PROTEST PLAYOFF '99: Selection Sunday

OK, quick seeding discussion. I had to really muck with this bracket, for what some might perceive as a silly reason.

Helmets.

Call me anal if you wish, but I really like the opposing helmets at the top of every story. The problem with them is reversibility. I can't reverse helmets that say "Gators" or "Broncos" in cursive. So, when I get a field like 1999 where exactly 8 of the 16 helmets are non-reversible, it constrains things quite a bit.

Going off a straight seeding procedure yields the following:

  1. Florida State
  2. Virginia Tech
  3. Nebraska
  4. Alabama
  5. Tennessee
  6. Kansas State
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Michigan
  9. Michigan State
  10. Florida
  11. Marshall
  12. Southern Miss
  13. Utah
  14. Stanford
  15. TCU
  16. Boise State

Florida State-Boise State is fine; Florida State's helmet is reversible.

Virginia Tech and TCU are both non-reversible, so I had to drop the nearest reversible-helmeted team into the 15 seed: Utah.

Same problem with Nebraska and Stanford, which is why Marshall had to slide down (probably unfairly, given their high BCS ranking).

Alabama's numbers are non-reversible, so the next available team to match with them is Michigan State, whose seed really suffers as a result (although it does produce a Saban Bowl). This also conveniently solves the prohibited Big Ten match-up in the 8-9 game.

Tennessee is the first reversible-helmeted team since Florida State, so that's where TCU goes to play, rewarded with a 12 seed despite its low computer ranking.

K-State gets Stanford, Wisconsin gets a dangerous Southern Miss team, and Florida goes to Ann Arbor, instead of to Madison for a rematch of last year's 1st round game in the Swamp. Such are the vagaries of my seeding process.

Star-divide

Basically, if you don't lock yourself into one of the top 8 seeds and a home host site, you lose control of your own destiny and might get sent to Timbuktu as an eleventeen seed. No whining. Deal with it. Win more games if you don't like it.

Isn't it much better to have arguments about who is #9 and #10 than it is about who is #2 and #3? One more reason my system is better than the BCS.

I can justify Marshall getting screwed since they didn't play anybody good all season, much like Tulane last year. Realistically, a playoff would still be constructed to benefit teams from the power conferences.

The rest of this is just guesswork. These teams are supposed to lose in the 1st round, remember. And once you run out of BCS rankings, the Sagarin ratings are the best I have to work with, but a different set of computer rankings might produce a different seeding order for the mid-major conference champs.

Like the NCAA selection committee, I am exercising some flexibility with those seeds in order to determine the best matches. Unlike the committee, I'm not so much looking for good on-field matches (those are happy accidents) as I am looking for compatible helmets.

By the way, this same problem exists with the 2000 field. More on that next Sunday.

Star-divide

A brief note on ties: In 1999, the Mountain West and the WAC were punished by the football gods for their divorce with that most terrible of curses - a three-way tie for the championship. (Cue Texas fans' shudders...) In both cases, the three teams beat up on each other a la Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech. To add to the mediocrity, they each also lost to another conference team as well - the final records for all six were 5-2.

No tiebreakers existed since there were no automatic bids to fight over. (The Mountain West has a nominal agreement to send its champion to the Las Vegas Bowl, but that's more traditional than contractual. And this was its first year of existence, remember?)

I broke the ties using the highest ranked team in the Sagarin ratings. That gave me TCU and Utah. Surprise! Funny how the same ol' names keep cropping up, isn't it? (1999 also marks the first of many, many appearances for Boise State.)

This is validated by several other things, so I feel good about these choices. Of BYU, Colorado State, and Utah, Utah scored the most points, had the highest Sagarin rating, was the only one to win its bowl game (albeit by only one point), and represented the Mountain West in what would come to be the unofficial "champion's bowl" - the Las Vegas Bowl. Besides, BYU and Colorado State get in the playoff in later years, so they have that consolation at least.

Of Fresno State, Hawai'i, and TCU, TCU scored the most points and allowed the fewest points in conference play, as well as having the highest Sagarin rating. They won their bowl, but so did Hawai'i.

Hawai'i does get in the field in 2007, and Fresno ... well, I hate Fresno, so they can go piss off. Seriously, could you ever see Pat Hill actually winning his conference when it meant something? Really? 1999 was as close as he has ever come, and he went 5-2 in conference play and finished in a three-way tie. Weak sauce.

That's about it. Can't wait to see if the Cats defend their championship. First, they might have to get revenge on the Huskers on Wednesday...

 

1999: The Field

No. 1 seed Florida State Seminoles (11-0; BCS #1): ACC Champion (automatic bid)
2nd consecutive playoff appearance
- 1998: 3rd round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #10 Florida
Losses: none
Head Coach: Bobby Bowden (2-1 playoff record)
Offensive Style: West Coast

Quarterback: Chris Weinke
Running Backs: Travis Minor and Jeff Chaney
Wide Receivers: Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans
Tight End: Ryan Sprague

 

No. 2 seed Virginia Tech Hokies (11-0; BCS #2): Big East Champion (automatic bid)
1st playoff appearance

Notable Wins: none
Losses: none
Head Coach: Frank Beamer
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Michael Vick
Running Backs: Shyrone Stith and Andre Kendrick
Wide Receivers: Andrew Davis and Ricky Hall
Tight End: Browning Wynn

 

No. 3 seed Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-1; BCS #3): Big 12 Champion (automatic bid)
2nd consecutive playoff appearance
- 1998: 1st round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #14 Texas A&M, BCS #6 Kansas State, BCS #15 Texas
Losses: BCS #15 Texas
Head Coach: Frank Solich (0-1 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Eric Crouch
Running Backs: Dan Alexander and Correll Buckhalter
Wide Receivers: Matt Davison and Bobby Newcombe
Tight End: Tracey Wistrom

 

No. 4 seed Alabama Crimson Tide (10-2; BCS #4): SEC Champion (automatic bid)
1st playoff appearance

Notable Wins: BCS #10 Florida (x2)
Losses: Louisiana Tech, BCS #5 Tennessee
Head Coach: Mike DuBose
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Andrew Zow
Running Backs: Shaun Alexander and Shaud Williams
Wide Receivers: Freddie Milons and Antonio Carter
Tight End: Terry Jones

 

No. 5 seed Tennessee Volunteers (9-2; BCS #5): at-large bid
2nd consecutive playoff appearance
- 1998: 2nd round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #4 Alabama
Losses: BCS #10 Florida, Arkansas
Head Coach: Phillip Fulmer (1-1 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Tee Martin
Running Backs: Jamal Lewis and Travis Henry
Wide Receivers: Cedrick Wilson and Eric Parker
Tight End: John Finlayson

 

No. 6 seed Kansas State Wildcats (10-1; BCS #6): Big 12 North Co-Champion (at-large bid)
2nd consecutive playoff appearance
- 1998: National Champion

Notable Wins: BCS #15 Texas
Losses: BCS #3 Nebraska
Head Coach: Bill Snyder (4-0 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Balanced

Quarterback: Jonathan Beasley
Running Backs: Joe Hall and Frank Murphy
Wide Receivers: Quincy Morgan and Aaron Lockett
Tight End: Shad Meier

 

No. 7 seed Wisconsin Badgers (9-2; BCS #7): Big Ten Champion (automatic bid)
2nd consecutive playoff appearance
- 1998: 1st round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #13 Minnesota, BCS #9 Michigan State
Losses: Cincinnati, BCS #8 Michigan
Head Coach: Barry Alvarez (0-1 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Brooks Bollinger
Running Backs: Ron Dayne and Eddie Faulkner
Wide Receivers: Chris Chambers and Nick Davis
Tight End: Dague Retzlaff

 

No. 8 seed Michigan Wolverines (9-2; BCS #8): at-large bid
1st playoff appearance

Notable Wins: BCS #7 Wisconsin, BCS #11 Penn State
Losses: BCS #9 Michigan State, Illinois
Head Coach: Lloyd Carr
Offensive Style: Balanced

Quarterback: Tom Brady
Running Backs: Anthony Thomas and Walter Cross
Wide Receivers: Dave Terrell and Marcus Knight
Tight End: Shawn Thompson

 

No. 9 seed Florida Gators (9-3; BCS #10): SEC East Champion (at-large bid)
2nd consecutive playoff appearance
- 1998: 3rd round elimination

Notable Wins: BCS #5 Tennessee
Losses: BCS #4 Alabama (x2), BCS #1 Florida State
Head Coach: Steve Spurrier (2-1 playoff record)
Offensive Style: West Coast

Quarterback: Doug Johnson
Running Backs: Earnest Graham and Bo Carroll
Wide Receivers: Darrell Jackson and Travis Taylor
Tight End: Erron Kinney

 

No. 10 seed Southern Miss Golden Eagles (8-3; Sagarin #14*): C-USA Champion (automatic bid)
1st playoff appearance

Notable Wins: none
Losses: BCS #3 Nebraska, BCS #14 Texas A&M, BCS #4 Alabama
Head Coach: Jeff Bower
Offensive Style: Favor Run

Quarterback: Jeff Kelly
Running Backs: Derrick Nix and Dawayne Woods
Wide Receivers: Todd Pinkston and Sherrod Gideon
Tight End: Bobby Garner

 

No. 11 seed Stanford Cardinal (8-3; Sagarin #28*): Pac-10 Champion (automatic bid)
1st playoff appearance

Notable Wins: none
Losses: BCS #15 Texas, San Jose State, Washington
Head Coach: Tyrone Willingham
Offensive Style: Balanced

Quarterback: Todd Husak
Running Backs: Brian Allen and Kerry Carter
Wide Receivers: Troy Walters and DeRonnie Pitts
Tight End: Russell Stewart

 

No. 12 seed TCU Horned Frogs (7-4; Sagarin #51*): WAC Co-Champion (automatic bid)
1st playoff appearance

Notable Wins: none
Losses: Arizona, Northwestern, Fresno State, Rice
Head Coach: Dennis Franchione
Offensive Style: Heavy Run

Quarterback: Patrick Batteaux
Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson and George Layne
Wide Receivers: Mike Scarborough and LaTarence Dunbar
Tight End: Matt Schobel

 

No. 13 seed Michigan State Spartans (9-2; BCS #9): at-large bid
1st playoff appearance

Notable Wins: BCS #8 Michigan, BCS #11 Penn State
Losses: Purdue, BCS #7 Wisconsin
Head Coach: Nick Saban/Bobby Williams**
Offensive Style: Favor Run

Quarterback: Bill Burke
Running Backs: Lloyd Clemons and T.J. Duckett
Wide Receivers: Plaxico Burress and Gari Scott
Tight End: Chris Baker

 

No. 14 seed Marshall Thundering Herd (12-0; BCS #12): MAC Champion (automatic bid)
2nd consecutive playoff appearance
- 1998: 1st round elimination

Notable Wins: none
Losses: none
Head Coach: Bob Pruett (0-1 playoff record)
Offensive Style: Balanced

Quarterback: Chad Pennington
Running Backs: Doug Chapman and Llow Turner
Wide Receivers: Nate Poole and James Williams
Tight End: Gregg Kellett

 

No. 15 seed Utah Utes (8-3; Sagarin #25*): Mountain West Co-Champion (automatic bid)
1st playoff appearance

Notable Wins: none
Losses: Boise State, Colorado State, Wyoming
Head Coach: Ron McBride
Offensive Style: Favor Run

Quarterback: Darnell Arceneaux
Running Backs: Mike Anderson and Omar Bacon
Wide Receivers: Steve Smith and Cliff Russell
Tight End: Matt Nickel

 

No. 16 seed Boise State Broncos (9-3; Sagarin #53*): Big West Champion (automatic bid)
1st playoff appearance

Notable Wins: none
Losses: UCLA, Hawai'i, North Texas
Head Coach: Dirk Koetter
Offensive Style: unavailable***

Quarterback: unavailable***
Running Backs: unavailable***
Wide Receivers: unavailable***
Tight End: unavailable***

 

*BCS rankings only went from #1-15 from 1998-2002, so I used Sagarin rankings to seed all teams not listed in the BCS Top 15.

**Nick Saban departed before the Citrus Bowl, in which the team was coached by Bobby Williams. It is reasonable to hypothesize, however, that Saban would have remained at Michigan State until the team was eliminated from the playoff.

***The database for Boise State only goes back to 2001. Since they will most likely lose to No. 1 seed Florida State anyway, I will use the 2001 team for simulation purposes.

 

1999: What Really Happened

Florida State was the first team in college football history to go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team, defeating the unbeaten Virginia Tech Hokies and their freshman, future-dog-abusing quarterback Michael Vick 46-29 in the Sugar Bowl.

Nebraska defeated the defending champion Tennessee 31-21 in the Fiesta Bowl.

Despite the introduction of the "K-State Rule," BCS #6 K-State was again passed over for the BCS, this time in favor of BCS #8 Michigan. At least they made good on it - Tom Brady began a long career of winning big games by beating Alabama 35-34 in overtime in the Orange Bowl.

Kansas State again missed getting a New Year's Day game, despite going 10-1, and settled for beating Skippy and his Washington Huskies 24-20 in the Holiday Bowl.

Wisconsin beat Stanford 17-9 in a traditional Rose Bowl, Ty's shining moment in the sun.

Michigan State beat Florida 37-34 in the Citrus Bowl.

Southern Miss defeated Mountain West Co-Champion Colorado State 23-17 in the Liberty Bowl.

TCU beat ECU 28-14 in the Mobile Alabama Bowl, which I believe is now called the GMAC Bowl.

Marshall crushed Mountain West Co-Champion BYU 21-3 in the Motor City Bowl to complete a perfect 13-0 season, the second straight mid-major team to do so and not even come close to the BCS. (Both Marshall and Tulane probably would have made it in under the current system and formula.)

Utah beat WAC Co-Champion Fresno State 17-16 in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Boise State edged Louisville 34-31 on its blue home turf in the Humanitarian Bowl.

Wikipedia's 1999 season summary

 

Tomorrow's Games

#16 Boise State @ #1 Florida State
Doak Campbell Stadium
Tallahassee, Fla.

#13 Michigan State @ #4 Alabama
Bryant-Denny Stadium
Tuscaloosa, Ala.

#12 TCU @ #5 Tennessee
Neyland Stadium
Knoxville, Tenn.

#9 Florida @ #8 Michigan
Michigan Stadium
Ann Arbor, Mich.

 

BracketCat's Protest Playoff Archives

1998: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Fiesta | Data

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