A fun little exercise with the "polling system"...

Because it's the offseason, and there's literally nothing better to do, outside of Sundays. Bear with me. Or don't. I'm just doing this for "fun-sies," if you will...

Every College Football fan knows about polls. Polls are literally the backbone of the freaking sport! For better, and especially for worse! So how am I filling my boredom-filled weekdays, in February? By coming up with little exercises like this one: HOW TO IMPROVE THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF POLLING SYSTEM.

It's not like I've been stewing over this for months, or anything. This was a notion that literally just hit me the other day. And normally, little notions like this tend to pass me by. The trouble was, the more I thought about this, the more I felt like I had to share it with other people. And not just any other people, but people who shared my love of the game!

Long story short, I came up with my own polling system. And unlike literally every other poll, it's based on something a bit more concrete than "birds-eye-view judgment" of every game that every team plays. We need a fixed system! This is my version of the fix. Nobody has to agree with me. I just wanted to share this, and get opinions, because I have nothing better to do right now (besides work my job, and one can only do so much of that in a day).


Now that I have all your attention, I call this polling system "The College Football Points System." Shocking? Hardly. All I will say is that this particular system is very much based off of the "points" system that professional auto racing (like NASCAR) is based off of. That point system decides auto racing's "playoff" standings, just like it should dictate College Football's Playoff Poll. Here's how:

1. First and foremost, how many games a team wins should always be paramount. That's how literally every single playoff system, in every sport on Earth, works. So the basis of the points system is founded around "how many games did your team win?" In this fashion, the points are based:

3 points for a win

1 point for forcing/lasting until overtime (basically a "tie," except there aren't really ties in football anymore. I'll get into this more, later)

0 points for a loss ("You get NOTHING! You LOSE!! GOOD DAY, SIR!!!")

It's really quite simple. The foundation of the points system is entirely earned. If you win, you get points. If you lose, you don't. I think that every human being in the world can agree with this stipulation. Now, what about that pesky "overtime" thing...?

Overtime. First of all, you only get one point for overtime. I don't care how many "overtime shootout sessions" you, and your opponent, need, to duke it out. You get ONE POINT! Period! One point, one overtime! Basically, simply for being so stingy a foe, that your opponent couldn't finish you off in regulation. With this, if you both force overtime, AND WIN: You get 4 points, instead of the standard 3. If you lose in overtime, you get 1 point, instead of a flat goose-egg! More importantly, one point is all you get, even if your game requires SEVEN OR EIGHT overtimes to finish off. There have got to be limits somewhere...

So how does this look on paper? Here are the top ten programs from last season's final regular season CFB Poll. This is how many points each team would have finished the season with, based upon the above criteria:

1. Georgia (36 points)

2. Michigan (36 points)

3. TCU (37 points)

4. Ohio State (33 points)

5. Alabama (31 points)

6. Tennessee (31 points)

7. Clemson (31 points)

8. Utah (27 points)

9. Kansas State (27 points)

10. USC (33 points)

Obviously, every program is aligned, based on where they finished the 12 game regular season ranked. But you'll notice, from looking at the basic point totals, that the rankings, based off of point accumulation, should be a teensy-bit different. The first thing that jumps off the page is TCU! They finished with the same amount of regular season wins as Michigan and Georgia did. So why do they have 37 points, while UGA and UM have 36? Well, it's because one of TCU's wins came in OT. They got the bonus point for forcing overtime, when the Bulldogs and Wolverines did not. So that serves as the tie-breaker. Based upon that, TCU should actually have been #1, not Georgia (this has no bearing on the postseason, and how that turned out, so calm down, and put your oxygen masks back on...).

The point totals, you'll also notice, are based solely upon THE TWELVE GAME REGULAR SEASON that College Football boasts. At no point are the Conference Championship Games, Playoff Games, or Bowl Games, accounted for. This is because this poll, as designed, takes none of those games into account. This is the poll, as it would look like, after Thanksgiving Weekend, when the CFB regular season normally comes to a conclusion all around. The CCGs are special "privileges" handed out to those teams, inside a conference, that qualify for a championship game. Those games, as far as I'm concerned, are NOT a part of the Regular Season, and should never be accounted for in polls trying to dictate a 4 (or in the near future 12) team Playoff. Essentially, everybody under the 12 game system gets a fair shake, whether they clean up their pansy-ass conference or not, as it should be!

"But GoldrushND! What about the teams that play 13 games, because they had to squeeze Hawai'i into their schedule?" I'm so glad you brought that up, because obviously, for Hawai'i's sake, that has to be accounted for at some point. Without that "13 game exception," nobody would ever schedule the Warriors, and Hawai'i would be unfairly left out in "siberia," basically banished from the rest of the sport. That ain't right! Luckily, none of the top ten programs listed above played Hawai'i. So we can just quietly set that little addendum aside...

Going back to the poll up above, you'll notice a three-way-tie, between Alabama, Clemson, and Tennessee. How does this happen? Well, all three programs won ten regular season games (which all amount to 30 points), and each team also had to play one overtime game, so all three of them get that basic bonus tally, making their totals 31 points, instead of 30. Obviously, this is a tie. Arguably, they should all be ranked by the same number. However, my points system doesn't simply end at what you see up above. Obviously, there will need to be tie-breakers dished out, along the way.

2. Bonus Points! Or, tie-breaking factors, if you wish to get "technical." No poll should ever have two teams exactly tied. Especially if the number they are tied at happens to be the cutoff point for either being in the Playoff, or relegated to a mere exhibition game, in December. The first bonus points, obviously, pertain to the "strength-of-schedule" argument, that is inbred into the CFB polling system in the first place. As annoying as the whole "SOS" argument has always been, to me personally, it is in the DNA of college sports, and therefore cannot be avoided. It goes basically like this: Any wins over teams also ranked in the Playoff Poll account for one additional point, beyond the basic foundation points.

This system takes into account where an opponent is ranked AT THE TIME OF THE GAME, not how they wind up, six weeks later, at the end of the season. This is built the way it is, specifically to avoid any yammering, or pounding of fists, in rage, that tend to erupt in your common message-board argument. If you beat the #4 team in the country, and by the end of the season that opponent has dropped out of the Top 25, guess what? YOU STILL BEAT THE #4 TEAM IN THE COUNTRY, AT THE TIME THAT YOU PLAYED THEM!!! The rule is worded this way, specifically to prevent any "afterthought" penalizing of points, at the end of the year, toward any individual team, by biased reporters/administrators/coaches/politicians/anybody you can think of.

How does the bonus work? Basically like this: You get one bonus point for beating a ranked opponent. You get zero points for losing to ranked opponents, just as you get zero points for losing at all (only getting to OT can save you from a goose-egg!).

To put this in clearer perspective, let's now take that same Top Ten poll, from above, and apply the requisite bonuses to the final scores, and see what we come out with:

1. Georgia (38 points)

2. Michigan (38 points)

3. TCU (42 points)

4. Ohio State (35 points)

5. Alabama (34 points)

6. Tennessee (36 points)

7. Clemson (34 points)

8. Utah (28 points)

9. Kansas State (28 points)

10. USC (35 points)

Now things are getting interesting! TCU has widened their lead on the #1 spot, while the three-way-tie between 'Bama, Clemson, and UT, is partially broken up. With Tennessee taking a clear points lead over the other two, even as the other two remain drawn with the same amount of points. This basically shows us that, even with this bonus system factored in, TCU should still have been the clear #1 team in the country, after Week 12. It also shows us that the Big Ten isn't nearly as wonderful as the media would have us all believe, seeing as how #10 USC has the same amount of points as #4 OSU does, while Tennessee has suddenly exceeded both competitors.

But there are still multiple ties in the Top Ten. That, obviously, has to be dealt with. So this calls for additional bonus points to be handed out...

3. Where was your game played, tough guy?? The next set of bonuses are awarded for games played at "Home," as well as those played on the Road. "Home and Away Bonuses," if you will.

Basically, this is to prevent teams/conferences from scheduling as many home games as possible, for the sake of protecting their teams from the hostility of going on the road. I don't expect this will cause programs to willingly give up the bare minimum of 7 home games (8, if you're an SEC homeboy), because "human nature," and all that. Also, money. All universities dig the dollars that come from hosting home games, from ticket money, so that is never going to change. This system simply builds upon what already exists, and exists purely as a "secondary" tie-breaker, if the first tie-breaker doesn't work. Finally, one bonus point is given out for wins on the road. You get zero bonus for winning at home. However, here is where things get different!

In the previous tie-breaker, you still get zero points for losses. But under this code, if you lose a game, on the road, you get some "forgiveness" granted to you. You get .5 (or half) of a point for losing on the road. This is because road games are purely tougher to win, and are not necessarily a judgment on how good or bad you actually are. However, to keep from being too forgiving, if you lose to an unranked opponent, on the road, you still get a big fat goose-egg! Lines must be drawn somewhere, for the sake of reason! This isn't elementary school! If you can't even pull off a win, on the road, against a team that came into that particular Saturday as unworthy of the Top 25 Poll, then you deserve nothing! If you lose to a ranked opponent, you do deserve some forgiveness, however. Ranked teams are ranked for a pretty good reason, usually. But again, only half of a point for your "loser" ass!

Neutral-site losses are the same value as home losses, under any conditions. Zero! Neutral sites are "neutral" for a reason. If the other team had more fans show up than yours did, that's simply life. Deal with it, as we all must.

If you win on the road, that's an additional point. Another bonus to be added to your toll. Observe...

1. Georgia (42 points)

2. Michigan (42 points)

3. TCU (48 points)

4. Ohio State (39 points)

5. Alabama (38 points)

6. Tennessee (40 points)

7. Clemson (38.5 points)

8. Utah (32 points)

9. Kansas State (32.5 points)

10. USC (39.5 points)

What do we have here? TCU now has a virtual strangle-hold on the #1 slot. Let that be a lesson to every knucklehead, who proclaimed that TCU did not deserve to be in the Playoff, after they lost to Kansas State in the Big XII Title Game. No. Even with that loss, TCU still deserved to be there! And this is precisely why counting Conference Championship Games as part of the Playoff induction process is stupid, and only holds value for stupid people!!

Let's re-rank these bad boys, after this round of bonus points, because you'll notice that the picture becomes a lot clearer, now that two rounds of bonuses have been applied to the point totals:

1. TCU (48 points)

2. Georgia (42 points)

3. Michigan (42 points)

4. Tennessee (40 points)

5. USC (39.5 points)

6. Ohio State (39 points)

7. Clemson (38.5 points)

8. Alabama (38 points)

9. Kansas State (32.5 points)

10. Utah (32 points)

So, the first thing that jumps out to me, with this Poll, is that the Buckeyes were technically not worthy of Playoff inclusion in the first place. They played Notre Dame at home, on opening day, with the Irish having a whole new head coach. They beat up on a mostly soft Big Ten schedule. And most importantly, when they faced a real team, in Michigan, they got their asses handed to them, in spite of the game being in Columbus! OSU got half a point for losing to ranked Michigan, but that still wasn't enough bonus to overcome their flim-flammery. According to this ranking, OSU wasn't even a Top 5 caliber program this year!

The other thing that should jump out to everyone here... ALABAMA WAS OVERRATED. Now, we all know why. Nick Saban, and all that. I get it. We get it. We all get it. But in this points system, Alabama's illusion becomes just a touch more exposed to the masses. They attained very little in the way of bonuses, to add to a score that wasn't even good enough for the postseason the first time around. Most notably, the tie between Clemson and Alabama was broken by this additional set of bonuses. Clemson was just barely better, based on their road loss to Notre Dame giving them .5 points, to add to the three they had. Alabama's two losses were both on the road, so they got 1 full point from both of those losses. However, they only had four road games to begin with. So 'Bama only came out with 3 points worth of bonuses in this category.

Still, after this second round of bonuses, though everything has been mostly worked out in the Top Ten, we're still left with a tie between #2 and #3. Now, I get it. It doesn't matter which team was second or third, because the first round of the Playoff is played on a neutral field to begin with. But I'm a nutty perfectionist. This just doesn't sit right with me. So I feel like a third, and final, round of tie-breakers is needed here. After all, if a tie can happen in the Top 4... it can surely happen anywhere in the Top 25.

4. You get negative one bonus point for beating up on an FCS opponent! I'm sorry, SEC, but your conference, in particular, has needed to get called out on this bullshit for approximately 100 years (or at least, it feels that long)! I don't feel like I need to go on a long-winded explanation here, to any of you. So let's just get down to the nitty-gritty...

1. TCU (48 points)

2. Georgia (41 points. -1 for beating up on FCS Samford)

3. Michigan (42 points)

4. Tennessee (40 points)

5. USC (39.5 points)

6. Ohio State (39 points)

7. Clemson (37.5 points. -1 for crushing FCS Furman)

8. Alabama (37 points. -1 for cushioning their November with Austin Peay)

9. Kansas State (31.5 points. -1 for opening the season with a practice game, against South Dakota)

10. Utah (32 points)

Okay, so Utah gets to take the #9 spot, thanks to Kansas State wussing out against South Dakota. And no, I don't care that South Dakota is looking to make the jump to FBS, this offseason. That doesn't count any more than their win against TCU, in the Big XII Title Game, does. Most notably, We finally have a clear #2 team in the Playoff! Thanks to Georgia settling for FURMAN... lol!! In my mind, they should be booted from Playoff contention entirely, as punishment for downgrading their schedule to this degree, but let's not be "extremists" now. Nobody likes them. So let's just deduct one point. That's really all that we need to finally iron out a clear delineation between the second and third Playoff teams. Yes, I'm fully aware that Michigan will probably get crushed anyway. We all saw what Georgia did to "The Real #1, TCU" in the actual Playoff that went down. But that's not the point. The point is to actually apply some REASONING to the Polling System, to begin with! This points system, I believe, does just that.


Since this is a "Fighting Irish" message board, I suppose I should sally-forth, and tell you all what Notre Dame would have looked like, under this points system (because yes, I did run those numbers through my brain, as I was inventing this entire system in the first place).

First of all, Notre Dame won 8 regular season games. That's good enough for 24 points, overall. Now, let's add the bonuses (just to assume that we had to, okay?). Notre Dame gets 4 bonus points for beating Clemson, Syracuse, North Carolina, and BYU. Yes, in the final rankings of the year, UNC was unranked. But they were ranked at the time that we played them. That's all that matters in this system. Also, Notre Dame gets 3 bonus points for their road record. They played four road games, and yes, they lost two of them. But those two road losses were to ranked opponents, each time (Top Ten opponents, no less!). That means that Notre Dame gets .5 awarded to them, twice, for those two road losses to ranked foes. That adds up to 1, but you all know that. 2+1=3. Let's move on...

Finally, no games against FCS competition (as always, up 'til now). Sadly, that boasting point comes to a tragic end, next September, as Notre Dame finally gives up their pride, to play an FCS carpet-dweller. That's already -1 point next season, but not this season. The number for 2022 is zero! So let's do the math out loud:

24 base points + 4 +3 = 31!

In the Final College Football Playoff Poll, after Thanksgiving Weekend, Notre Dame was ranked #21 by the committee. I don't think any of us thought that was entirely wrong. We certainly didn't look impressive against Stanford, or Marshall. But the 31 points awarded to the Irish, in this system, places Notre Dame just behind Kansas State, at tenth place! Meaning it's very likely Notre Dame would finish the 2022 football season at #11 in the final regular season poll. Not bad. Especially not for the first season ever coached, as the head-honcho, by Marcus Freeman!

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