Monday, December 3, 2007

A real national champion: The Final Bracket

Well, this is it. The regular season is over, and my final bracket is unveiled here. Without further ado:

1) Ohio State (Big Ten)
16) Central Michigan (MAC)

8) Kansas (At large)
9) West Virginia (Big East)

4) Oklahoma (Big XII)
13) BYU (Mountain West)

5) Georgia (At large)
12) Florida (At large)

3) Virginia Tech (ACC)
14) Central Florida (Conference USA)

6) Missouri (At large)
11) Arizona State (At large)

7) USC (Pac-10)
10) Hawaii (WAC)

2) LSU (SEC)
15) Troy (Sun Belt)

Missed the cut (BCS rank):
Illinois (13)
Boston College (14)
Clemson (15)
Tennessee (16)
Wisconsin (18)

For previous weeks, see Week Seven, Week Eight, Week Nine, Week Ten, Week Twelve and Week Thirteen.

Looking back at the initial bracket, only ten teams included then (in Week Seven, mind you, not the preseason) made it to the final bracket, and that includes two teams (Oklahoma and Arizona State) who spent one week each on the outside looking in.

I have already addressed issues such as season length, game sites and the fate of the lesser bowls in the initial post. Let's focus on the overwhelming benefits of this system here.

A common knock on a playoff is that it dilutes the regular season. Look at this bracket and ask: Does the regular season matter? Ask Boston College, who were a two seed before a couple losses knocked them out of the picture. Ask Tennessee, who was an SEC Championship win away from playing their way in. Ask South Florida and Connecticut, who were both riding high in the Big East before West Virginia reasserted their dominance. I'd say the regular season still matters.

In a sixteen team playoff, undefeated Hawaii gets a shot. They may very well get blown out by USC in the first round. But there is no way to rationalize a team going undefeated and not even getting a sniff at a championship. If you want to argue that they played a weak schedule, that's fine, but you better start by getting the big boys to stop ducking Hawaii and other dangerous mid-majors like them. I'm talking to you, Michigan.

As things currently stand, two-loss LSU gets a shot at one-loss Ohio State. But what about two-loss teams such as Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Georgia, Missouri, USC, West Virginia, Arizona State, in addition to one-loss Kansas and previously mentioned undefeated Hawaii? Could they have solved their own problems during the season? Sure, but their warts are no worse than LSU's, or Ohio State's for that matter. That makes at least nine teams who have just as legitimate a claim to play for the title as LSU and OSU.

While the BCS shuts its eyes, covers its ears and screams "I can't hear you!" over and over, my playoff gives them the shot they rightfully deserve.

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