Proposed Changes in Sports #1
Everyone has some opinions on what they would like to see change–both in the sports world and outside of it. For whatever its worth (and it probably is not worth much), there are plenty of changes throughout sports that this author would like to see. Here is the first:
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF
Why are there ranked standings for this in November? As we speak #FSUTWITTER is afire as to how Florida State has dropped from #2 to #3, just by winning its 25th straight game. Admittedly, the drop makes NO sense. The team jumping FSU is Oregon, whose signature win was Michigan State, who just lost to Ohio State, who lost to Virginia Tech–the worst team in the ACC Coastal that Florida State currently leads. The transitive game is risky, but it has to mean something.
My proposed change is that the committee stop releasing actual rankings, and instead just release a top 4, next 6, middle 5, next 5, and last 5 for the first three weeks. To strike a balance between no disclosure and full disclosure, the tiered disclosures would (a) allow some transparency; (b) keep everyone interested, (c) stimulate discussion, (d) encourage speculation as to where teams fit within a tier, and (e) allow the committee to defer having to make actual ranking decisions until teams have played at least 10 games. Thus, for this week, the committee would issue this alphabetical ranking:
Top 4: Alabama, Florida State, Mississippi State, Oregon
Next 6: Arizona State, Auburn, Baylor, Ohio State, Ole Miss, TCU
Middle 5: Arizona, Georgia, Kansas State, MSU, UCLA
Next 5: Clemson, LSU, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Wisconsin
Last 5: Duke, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Texas A&M, Utah
This way, the committee would only be indicating a general rank–giving teams a preliminary idea of where they stand. The top tier would have an idea that the committee seems to like what they have done so far, but no certainty. And the lack of certainty also adds hope for all teams and fan bases. And does it really matter right now who is #1? If #1 or #4 loses, they are in jeopardy.
These rankings mean very little right now because there are so many important games left to play. In a 12-game season, where the first 4-5 weeks are primarily OOC games, there is little to go by. Moreover, many top conferences games that fall short of being rivalries (i.e. the slate of games this past Saturday) are played towards the end of the season.
Also, what is the point of having a team at #7, if #7 can leapfrog #4 with a win even if #4 also wins. And so on. Why did Arizona State move up to #6 for beating Notre Dame, but Florida State moved down despite beating the same team? Either beating Notre Dame is impressive or it is not. That is the problem with rankings. Each new standings only reveals the weakness in the prior rankings–as the committee seemed to miss the boat. Only we all know that the committee can only work with what it has at the time.
In March, the committee makes its final decisions in the hours up until the bracket is announced. The fact that there is any transparency is great. And, at some point, the committee can and should show its full hand. The Confidential proposes the third Tuesday of November. At that point, every team would have at least 10 games played. That is a fair time to finally put numbers on things. But in these early weeks of providing guidance, the need for transparency is reduced and the need to know that the committee is only temporarily ranking teams is justified.
Not the most dramatic change ever, but one that this author thinks is appropriate.