clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Badger Bits: Barry Alvarez supports top 3 conference champs and a wild card for college football playoff

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Barry Alvarez came out in support of a playoff model that would send the top three conference champions and one at-large team to a four-team college football playoff.
Barry Alvarez came out in support of a playoff model that would send the top three conference champions and one at-large team to a four-team college football playoff.

The debate over college football's new playoff system rages on with the SEC and B1G going at each other like prizefighters throwing haymakerss. At least that was the hope. Except that while the SEC has adamantly stumped for a four-team field including the best in the land, it isn't quite clear just exactly what the B1G wants. Jim Delany made that snide reference to Alabama failing to win its division, and the conference was beaten down by the media as a royal antiquity trying to hold onto its dimming relevance by excluding everyone but conference champs. Adam Rittenberg has taken great pains to clarify that 1) the Big Ten doesn't have an official stance and 2) it generally favors a 3+1 model that might actually work pretty well.

Barry Alvarez has joined the general-ish consensus among Big Ten athletic directors who want to see a four-team playoff field comprised of the Top 3 conference champions and best at-large team. He also reiterated his respect for Kirk Herbstreit, saying he would like teams to be selected by a savvy panel of media experts. Andy Staples applied the model to the last 14 years of college football, and the results were refreshingly non-catastrophic.

In the 14-year BCS era, 42 of the 56 teams that finished in the top four of the BCS standings won their conference championship. That's 75 percent, which is the same exact number a three-and-one system would guarantee. Only five times in 14 years would a top four team have been left out for failing to win its conference, and all five occasions involved flipping the No. 4 and 5 teams. There would never have been a No. 3 left out or a No. 6 let in.

The easy argument against the 3+1 is that just because a system kind of works well doesn't mean it should be adopted over something much more intuitive and just as effective. The model does have practical uses, however. It safeguards against a two or one-league playoff (as rare as that might be), and takes away some potential for regional bias.

This isn't a debate being fought over practical battle lines, however. The Big Ten and the SEC are both clawing for what they think will net them a bigger slice of pie. Funny enough, neither proposal may ultimately make much of a difference. The SEC earned 12 playoffs bids over 14 years using the 3+1, putting them behind only the Big 12, who earned 14 bids. The Big Ten would have had eight bids in either a 3+1 or Top 4 model.

Monday Links

Jordan Taylor is keeping his head up after being skipped over for a combine invite before the 2012 NBA Draft.

1998 Wisconsin falls to 2008 Penn State in the second round of OTE's B1G "what if?" playoff bracket.

Penn State names Matt McGloin their starting quarterback. Y'know, until he screws up or something.

Two Ohio State starters were suspended indefinitely after being nabbed by police for "misdemeanor obstructing official business," which apparently means urinating on the side of a restaurant.

Wisconsin's women's lightweight 4 cruised to an open-water victory over Stanford at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championship. The men didn't fare as well. The first varsity 8 took eighth place while the second varsity 8 placed .674 seconds out of a medal.

Gabe Carimi is back on the field for the Bears after tearing the ACL in his right knee last season.

Wrapping up: Lee Corso rides a giant inflatable rubby ducky. Oh god: