Well, after three years of blogging (here for '06 and '08 and here for '07), I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy my own independent domain name for my fourth season. Not only did I want to make the site that much easier to find, but I also wanted to truly make this more of a destination. While the primary focus of this site is going to remain college basketball (and I definitely have big plans on that front, which I'll discuss tomorrow), I'm going to be branching out a bit. For example, I'm going to use this first post of 2008-2009 to share my first ever bowl projections. Now, since I also wish that college football would stop being so provincial about its postseason, I'm going to ram several playoff projections down your collective throats as well.
I'd been kicking around the idea of doing bowl projections for awhile. My biggest problem with the concept is that the process doesn't result in the Christmas morning-type moment I get every year on Selection Sunday. Bowl bids get leaked out as deals are cut as the season wraps up. In theory, this isn't supposed to happen, but with so much flexibility in the middle bowl spots in the BCS conferences, it inevitably does. I finally decided that the launch of the new site was as good of a time as any to jump over to the dark side.
My bowl projections are pretty straightforward. Unlike what I do with basketball, my projections are truly that. I'm making an educated guess as to what will happen at the end of the year. This is my tactic for one reason only, there just aren't enough bowl-eligible teams yet. Teams that have one asterisk need just a single win to become bowl-eligible. Teams that have two need two victories. Still, two conferences, the Big 12, Pac-10, and (gasp!) SEC, probably won't have enough bowl eligible teams. So, the MAC and Sun Belt get extra bids this week.
I currently have Florida and Oklahoma in the National Championship Game. At this point of the season, we can be fairly confident as society that we'll see the mighty champions of the two best leagues in the country face off on January 8th. However, college football is a fickle sport. For example, if you ask me tomorrow who ends up representing the Big 12 in the BCS, you'll probably hear me say something different than "Oklahoma." However, for today, I think that OU will beat Texas Tech in Norman on November 22. That will put the Sooners, rightly or wrongly, ahead of Texas, a team who defeated them by 10 points in Dallas just weeks ago. Of course, if the Red Raiders take care of business and make the Big 12 Championship Game, that makes things easier on prognosticators like myself.
In terms of my soon-to-be world famous hypothetical playoff projections (take a deep breath), I present to you three options.
- A 16-team bracket. This is what I suspect we'd end up with if the NCAA ever had the cajones to take over the Football Bowl Subdivision from the evil BCS Conference Overlords. It would pretty much follow the same format as the FCS playoffs: 11 eligible conferences would receive automatic bids, and a committee would select five at-large teams and seed the 16 entrants. Higher seeds would have home games in the first round, and I anticipate that the quarterfinals on would be played at major bowl sites, though I didn't attempt to reflect this in my projection. The 16-team bracket is just like one of my basketball brackets. In other words, it's based on where the teams stand today.
- An 8-team bracket. This is what I suspect the playoffs would look like if the conference commissioners gave up on the bowls entirely. This bracket features six automatic bids (the BCS conference champions, since they are running the show in this parallel universe) and there are two at-large spots. This week, I didn't select a non-BCS team for either at-large spot. Just like with the 16-team bracket, the 8-team bracket is based on where teams stand today.
- A four-team "plus one" model. For this model, I projected out to the end of the year and picked four teams for semifinals. You could argue that I should've put USC and Penn State in one semifinal, so they could meet in the Rose Bowl, but competitive balance kept me from doing this.
Sure, we won't see any of these three options for the foreseeable future, but they're sure fun to think about.
Send your questions, comments, tips, and flames to dobber at bracketdobber dot net.
I'll be back tomorrow to talk about my plans for basketball season, including my busy game schedule.