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A Wild Card Game (before 8-team playoff) Feedback requested.
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Crayton Offline
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Post: #1
A Wild Card Game (before 8-team playoff) Feedback requested.
I'd like some feedback on the idea of staging a Wild Card Game on the same weekend as Conference Championships, particularly in the circumstance of an 8-team playoff with 2 at large spots. Basically the idea is to pair the top 2 teams not in a CCG against each other that weekend, either at the home of the higher ranked team or in a CTZ neutral site (New Orleans, Houston, Memphis?). The winner gets 1 of the 2 at large spots. Here are the benefits:

1) Division runner-ups would have to play and win a 13th game. Alabama (2011, 2017) or Ohio State (2015, 2016) can't finish 11-1 and get to sit at home while the team who beat them has to play an additional game to make the playoff.

2) Independents must play a top-tier opponent to make the playoff, but are not forced into conference membership (Notre Dame 2015, 2018). The 13th game is also an opportunity for untested teams to be weeded out prior to the playoff.

3) More great TV ($$$ MoNeY $$$). Another Top 10 matchup to cap the college football regular season.

4) It's decided "on the field." Whereas most years the 1 spot given to these two teams is decided by rank, the WCG format lessens the impact of voters or (heaven forbid) committee members.

5) It reduces the potential number of teams backing into the playoff, as only 1 at large spot remains for losers of CCGs to make the playoff.
01-11-2021 11:47 AM
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Crayton Offline
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Post: #2
RE: A Wild Card Game (before 8-team playoff) Feedback requested.
History of top non-champions before and after CCGs (using AP ranks):

2020 Before: #5 Texas A&M (7-1), #7 Indiana (6-1) // #10 Georgia (7-2)
2020 After: #4 Notre Dame (10-1), #5 Texas A&M (8-1), #7 Indiana (6-1)

2019 Before: #7 Florida (10-2), #9 Alabama (10-2) // #11 Auburn (9-3)
2019 After: #5 Georgia (11-2), #6 Florida (10-2), #9 Alabama (10-2)

2018 Before: #3 Notre Dame (12-0), #8 Michigan (10-2) // #11 Florida (9-3)
2018 After: #3 Notre Dame (12-0), #6 Georgia (11-2), #8 Michigan (10-2)

2017 Before: #5 Alabama (11-1), #9 Penn State (10-2) // #13 Washington (10-2)
2017 After: #4 Alabama (11-1), #6 Wisconsin (12-1), #7 Auburn (10-3) // #9 Penn State (10-2)

2016 Before: #2 Ohio State (11-1), #5 Michigan (10-2) // #10 USC (9-3)
2016 After: #2 Ohio State (11-1), #6 Michigan (10-2), #8 Wisconsin (10-3) // #9 USC (9-3)

2015 Before: #6 Ohio State (11-1), #9 Notre Dame (10-2) // #10 Florida St (10-2)
2015 After: #6 Iowa (12-1), #7 Ohio State (11-1), #8 Notre Dame (10-2)

2014 Before: #7 Michigan St (10-2), #10 Miss State (10-2) // #13 Ole Miss (9-3)
2014 After: #7 Michigan St (10-2), #8 Miss State (10-2), loser of #4 Baylor-#6 TCU rematch

Possible Objections and Responses
Why would you pair off 2 playoff-caliber teams before the playoff even starts, shouldn't the top 2 at-larges BOTH make the playoff?
In all but the odd cases of 2014 and 2016, exactly 1 of the 2 WCG teams would have made the playoff without the additional game. The other at large spot has been taken by a team losing its CCG.

Doesn't this put MORE focus on whatever ranking system is used?
In 6 of 7 years, the 3rd at large team either had more losses or was ranked 4 spots below the 2nd, making the choice of which 2 teams should play off in the WCG easy. The exception was 2015, when both Notre Dame and Florida State were very similarly ranked, and the polls had to make the determination between the two. By contrast, the 2nd and 3rd at larges are within 2 spots in ALL 7 years (with assumptions about 2014); meaning picking 2 of those 3 teams would be more ranking-dependent without a WCG.

Won't this give an undeserving team (maybe even with 3 losses) a chance at the playoff?
A 3-loss team never entered the final weekend as 1 of the top 2 at larges; but, it could happen. It also happens in conferences all the time, though that lower ranked school rarely wins (#9 Washington won the Pac-12 at 10-3 in 2018). #9 Penn State (10-2) in 2017 is also the only WCG team who finished outside the Top 3 among at larges, but should they have defeated Alabama in the WCG, they'd likely vault both the Tide and Tigers to become 1 of the top 2 at larges by rank anyway.

Okay, I noticed #2 Ohio State (11-1) and #5 Michigan (10-2) would rematch in 2016, a week after their regular season double-overtime thriller?
Yes, #8 Penn State (10-2) won that division. I've entertained the idea of forbidding a rematch if the lower ranked team already lost to the higher ranked team, which in this case would send #10 USC (9-3) to play Ohio State... but this might amount to giving Michigan a bye into the playoff. Because rematches are a possibility in CCGs, they will remain a possibility for the WCG.
01-11-2021 11:50 AM
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CoastalJuan Offline
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Post: #3
RE: A Wild Card Game (before 8-team playoff) Feedback requested.
(01-11-2021 11:50 AM)Crayton Wrote:  History of top non-champions before and after CCGs (using AP ranks):

2020 Before: #5 Texas A&M (7-1), #7 Indiana (6-1) // #10 Georgia (7-2)
2020 After: #4 Notre Dame (10-1), #5 Texas A&M (8-1), #7 Indiana (6-1)

2019 Before: #7 Florida (10-2), #9 Alabama (10-2) // #11 Auburn (9-3)
2019 After: #5 Georgia (11-2), #6 Florida (10-2), #9 Alabama (10-2)

2018 Before: #3 Notre Dame (12-0), #8 Michigan (10-2) // #11 Florida (9-3)
2018 After: #3 Notre Dame (12-0), #6 Georgia (11-2), #8 Michigan (10-2)

2017 Before: #5 Alabama (11-1), #9 Penn State (10-2) // #13 Washington (10-2)
2017 After: #4 Alabama (11-1), #6 Wisconsin (12-1), #7 Auburn (10-3) // #9 Penn State (10-2)

2016 Before: #2 Ohio State (11-1), #5 Michigan (10-2) // #10 USC (9-3)
2016 After: #2 Ohio State (11-1), #6 Michigan (10-2), #8 Wisconsin (10-3) // #9 USC (9-3)

2015 Before: #6 Ohio State (11-1), #9 Notre Dame (10-2) // #10 Florida St (10-2)
2015 After: #6 Iowa (12-1), #7 Ohio State (11-1), #8 Notre Dame (10-2)

2014 Before: #7 Michigan St (10-2), #10 Miss State (10-2) // #13 Ole Miss (9-3)
2014 After: #7 Michigan St (10-2), #8 Miss State (10-2), loser of #4 Baylor-#6 TCU rematch

Possible Objections and Responses
Why would you pair off 2 playoff-caliber teams before the playoff even starts, shouldn't the top 2 at-larges BOTH make the playoff?
In all but the odd cases of 2014 and 2016, exactly 1 of the 2 WCG teams would have made the playoff without the additional game. The other at large spot has been taken by a team losing its CCG.

Doesn't this put MORE focus on whatever ranking system is used?
In 6 of 7 years, the 3rd at large team either had more losses or was ranked 4 spots below the 2nd, making the choice of which 2 teams should play off in the WCG easy. The exception was 2015, when both Notre Dame and Florida State were very similarly ranked, and the polls had to make the determination between the two. By contrast, the 2nd and 3rd at larges are within 2 spots in ALL 7 years (with assumptions about 2014); meaning picking 2 of those 3 teams would be more ranking-dependent without a WCG.

Won't this give an undeserving team (maybe even with 3 losses) a chance at the playoff?
A 3-loss team never entered the final weekend as 1 of the top 2 at larges; but, it could happen. It also happens in conferences all the time, though that lower ranked school rarely wins (#9 Washington won the Pac-12 at 10-3 in 2018). #9 Penn State (10-2) in 2017 is also the only WCG team who finished outside the Top 3 among at larges, but should they have defeated Alabama in the WCG, they'd likely vault both the Tide and Tigers to become 1 of the top 2 at larges by rank anyway.

Okay, I noticed #2 Ohio State (11-1) and #5 Michigan (10-2) would rematch in 2016, a week after their regular season double-overtime thriller?
Yes, #8 Penn State (10-2) won that division. I've entertained the idea of forbidding a rematch if the lower ranked team already lost to the higher ranked team, which in this case would send #10 USC (9-3) to play Ohio State... but this might amount to giving Michigan a bye into the playoff. Because rematches are a possibility in CCGs, they will remain a possibility for the WCG.

Another response to "Why would you pair off 2 playoff-caliber teams before the playoff even starts, shouldn't the top 2 at-larges BOTH make the playoff?" is that the conference championship games that currently exist are exactly that.

I also don't get everyone's pearl clutching on letting a 2/3-loss team into the playoffs if they are good. The more you expand the field, the more losses you'll see in the playoff. The NFL barely every has a team with better than a 75% win percentage in their games, and teams just above .500 have still done some damage.
(This post was last modified: 01-11-2021 12:03 PM by CoastalJuan.)
01-11-2021 12:00 PM
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Fighting Muskie Offline
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Post: #4
RE: A Wild Card Game (before 8-team playoff) Feedback requested.
I don’t like the idea of excluding a CCG game loser from the playoffs as an at large team.

If you’ve got 2 12-0 teams playing a CCG game there’s a good chance that the loser is going to be one of the top 2-3 schools to not win a CCG game and would be deserving of the at large bid.
01-11-2021 12:09 PM
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quo vadis Offline
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Post: #5
RE: A Wild Card Game (before 8-team playoff) Feedback requested.
(01-11-2021 11:50 AM)Crayton Wrote:  Why would you pair off 2 playoff-caliber teams before the playoff even starts, shouldn't the top 2 at-larges BOTH make the playoff?

I would say that such a WC game would be a playoff game. Any game that, if you win, systematically advances you towards the title game is a playoff game. Just like WC games in the NFL are part of the playoffs.
01-11-2021 12:17 PM
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Crayton Offline
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Post: #6
RE: A Wild Card Game (before 8-team playoff) Feedback requested.
(01-11-2021 12:09 PM)Fighting Muskie Wrote:  I don’t like the idea of excluding a CCG game loser from the playoffs as an at large team.

If you’ve got 2 12-0 teams playing a CCG game there’s a good chance that the loser is going to be one of the top 2-3 schools to not win a CCG game and would be deserving of the at large bid.

There is still 1 spot in the 8-team playoff that is purely at large. A 12-1 team (2015 Iowa, 2017 Wisconsin, 2020 Notre Dame, kinda) will still make the playoff.
01-11-2021 12:18 PM
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Crayton Offline
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Post: #7
RE: A Wild Card Game (before 8-team playoff) Feedback requested.
(01-11-2021 12:17 PM)quo vadis Wrote:  
(01-11-2021 11:50 AM)Crayton Wrote:  Why would you pair off 2 playoff-caliber teams before the playoff even starts, shouldn't the top 2 at-larges BOTH make the playoff?

I would say that such a WC game would be a playoff game. Any game that, if you win, systematically advances you towards the title game is a playoff game. Just like WC games in the NFL are part of the playoffs.

I agree. I think the safety valve of 1 pure at large (likely a CCG or WCG loser) saves the format from critiques that its unfair for two highly ranked teams to be paired in the SECCG or BTCG or WCG.
(This post was last modified: 01-11-2021 12:49 PM by Crayton.)
01-11-2021 12:33 PM
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Crayton Offline
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Post: #8
RE: A Wild Card Game (before 8-team playoff) Feedback requested.
I'll add some more advantages:

6) The SEC and Big Ten can still get 3 bids, if they have 3 great teams.

7) No potential 17th game by playing an extra, mid-December round, and still more inclusive than a basic 5-1-2 model.
01-11-2021 12:48 PM
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Wedge Offline
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Post: #9
RE: A Wild Card Game (before 8-team playoff) Feedback requested.
You want to be more inclusive? Use that week before the 8-team playoff for a game between the two highest-ranked non-P5 teams. Winner advances into the 8-team bracket.
01-11-2021 02:13 PM
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Crayton Offline
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Post: #10
RE: A Wild Card Game (before 8-team playoff) Feedback requested.
(01-11-2021 02:13 PM)Wedge Wrote:  You want to be more inclusive? Use that week before the 8-team playoff for a game between the two highest-ranked non-P5 teams. Winner advances into the 8-team bracket.
I believe I said "more inclusive" WITHOUT adding another mid-December round. Sure, if you want to be more inclusive then make a 128-team bracket. But, if you want to add inclusion WITHOUT adding another round, the WCG does the trick.
01-11-2021 02:42 PM
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AllTideUp Offline
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Post: #11
RE: A Wild Card Game (before 8-team playoff) Feedback requested.
(01-11-2021 02:13 PM)Wedge Wrote:  You want to be more inclusive? Use that week before the 8-team playoff for a game between the two highest-ranked non-P5 teams. Winner advances into the 8-team bracket.

I agree. Take the top 2 G5 champs and give them a play-in game.

The G5 can keep all the revenue associated with that game.
01-11-2021 02:59 PM
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