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                                                                       The Postseason

The second issue in college football that desperately screams for an upgrade is the nature of the postseason, and by "upgrade" I am directly talking to you, FBS. Don't act like you don't hear me. The lack of a coherent postseason at the highest level of the sport is embarrassing. It's actually vexing, isn't it? Bowl games are fun, but essentially meaningless. They are postseason exhibitions, nothing more. Let's put some teeth into this. We can have fun and ensure that the postseason games actually mean something by instituting a single-elimination tournament that incorporates the bowl games. Makes sense, right? (and it's really easy to design.)

Like many fans, I have long sought a true playoff in The Artist Formerly Known as Division I-A. I suspect you have, too. C'mon, don't be shy, shout it out, you want a real playoff tournament! The NCAA is moving in this direction with the current four-team format (CFP), while assuring us that four teams is sufficient. It is not. Four teams is barely a playoff, and it is certainly not a tournament. People want tournaments. People want festivals, too, but that's a topic for another day. Ideal College Football will have a true postseason tournament, at every level, with full brackets and objective criteria for inclusion and seeding.

There are 10 divisions in Ideal College Football, and nine of them will be playing a postseason. There will be 48 schools from each of these divisions participating in the playoffs. Every one of these division tournaments will be arranged into four brackets of 12 teams each, with the top four in each bracket (the 1-4 seeds) receiving 1st round byes. For Division 1 we will be incorporating the bowl games.

As for Division 10, the one division that will not be conducting its own postseason tournament, those conferences will be slotted into the postseason picture in the following manner:

  • The Trans America will be included in the Division 3 playoffs
  • Deep South and Piedmont will be included in the Division 5 playoffs
  • All of Group XXIX (South Coast, Blue Ridge, American North) will be included in the Division 9 playoffs
  • All of Group XXX (Atlantic Sun, Metro North, Eastern) will be included in the Division 8 playoffs

Whereas in real life, inclusion in the CFP has oftentimes been controversial, that will not be the case with Ideal College Football. Starting around midseason, I will be posting updates for every division as to the state of affairs as it relates to the postseason. These will be of a 'if the playoffs started today' nature, so that fans can gauge where their teams stand. Are we in? What is our projected seed? And this will continue right through to the end of the regular season for all divisions. We'll have our own little Ideal College Football Bubble Watch, though with two major distinctions. Ours will be objective and transparent. Because....

That's how Ideal rolls! We do everything equitably.
 Allow me to say this right up front: the criteria for inclusion in and seeding of the postseason will be a straightforward affair. No politics, no backroom deals, no consideration of television ratings and revenue, no unaccountable secret committees. Simply put, the most deserving teams will make the playoffs. Now, this does lead to a conundrum. Do we take the strongest teams or do we take the winningest teams? And it is a valid argument. Do we take teams primarily from the power conferences, as they are the only schools generally considered able to actually win the whole shootin' match? Or do we select teams with the best records, those who annihilated their competition in smaller conferences, but who probably have little chance of actually winning a national tournament? The answer, obviously, is a combination of the two approaches. So this is what Ideal will do, every season and in every sport.*

The most transparent means of resolving the "strongest vs winningest" paradox is via an objective methodology. Say hello to my little friend, Quality Points (QP). The QP system has been devised to accomplish the objective analysis of every game played. Win or lose, blowout or nailbiter, upset or expected. In Ideal, using Quality Points, every result is assessed in real time using this objective criteria that is unbiased regarding which teams are playing. We do not determine the quality of a win or loss at the end of the season, when the games themselves were played months earlier. That makes zero sense. Victories do not 'get better or worse' as the season progresses. Nor do losses. You play teams when you play them, and you play them as they are then. There will be no retroactive ratings in Ideal. You'll know with every game where your team stands with regard to the postseason.

The clearest analogy is the NCAA basketball tournament, where annually we are treated to the rite of Bubble Watch. While quite a sporting affair in its own right, I am often dismayed when the field is announced and a 28-win mid- or small-major is left out in favor of a high-major school barely above .500. If School A is 28-4, and School B is 18-14, in anything other than extraordinary circumstances School A is the one that should be included in the tournament. In my mind, they are the more deserving candidate. And yet we regularly see School B make the tournament instead. However, in truth, there is no way to really know, because in college basketball - as in college football - the NCAA does not mandate balanced scheduling, or a minimum of tough/road contests. It's anyone's guess who deserves to be in the postseason.

With football, the difference in records is going to be much smaller. And in Ideal College Football, the adoption of balanced scheduling will make the entire process much easier to sort through. The QP system ensures that every team’s performance and true strength are accounted for when selecting the playoff field, and in seeding that field. Quality of wins and quality of losses are both taken into consideration, and they are done so at the time the game is played, not at the end of season. We need to assess wins and losses based on how strong both teams are contemporaneously, not months down the road. (Anybody see me slip in another $20 word right there? I'm crafty that way.)

Let’s take this Division 1 hypothetical: the 6th place team from the SEC (let's hypothesize this is Mississippi St) is almost certainly going to be stronger than the 3rd place team from the MAC (for this analysis, let's surmise this is Bowling Green). Yet that 6th place SEC team will probably lose more games than the 3rd place MAC team, based on the superiority of Group I vs Group III. On the surface, a comparison between these two would seem like apples and oranges. But it's not in Ideal World. The QP system takes all team's regular seasons into account, meaning that at the end of the day the most deserving teams will be making the playoff field, and the stronger of those teams will be on the higher seed lines.

Incidentally, this bears mentioning, and many of you are probably already aware of it. Y’know how, in NCAA-world, even mediocre teams manage to win six or seven games and sneak into a bowl? With the result being some pretty unappetizing bowl match-ups. That won’t be happening in Ideal College Football. When a team here is mediocre (or just downright bad) you’re going to know it. This is due to the balanced scheduling. Teams will not be able to hide behind a schedule filled with cupcake opponents and home games. These schedules are brutal. The idea, after all, is to separate out the most deserving teams, then match them up on the field to determine true champions. Let's do that.

We’re going to have fun with this. Toss your cynicism, suspend your disbelief, put your imagination front & center and let’s see where this goes. 

Did I mention the cash and prizes? 

*What, you thought this was just going to be college football? Heck no, we're just getting started. Ideal College Basketball is in the works. Ideal Baseball and Ideal Hockey and Ideal Soccer are all on the horizon, while Ideal Racing is deep in the development stage. For those of you looking to express your Idealism in formats other than sports, Ideal GemTrader is up and running, while Ideal CurrencyTrader is in design stage. Yes, trading. Ideal intends to make this world more ideal via a number of seemingly disparate formats and platforms. Join the movement, follow us on Patreon and become an Idealist!

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