Title:
Playoff system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of determining a championship in a playoff system in which a qualifying tournament includes teams of higher ranking playing teams of lower ranking, and in which the highest ranked teams that win a game against a lower ranked team advance to a playoff.



Inventors:
Don Jr., Craven A. (Austin, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/360573
Publication Date:
08/12/2004
Filing Date:
02/06/2003
Assignee:
360 Ventures, LLC
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/470
International Classes:
A63B71/02; A63B71/06; (IPC1-7): A63B71/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VINSON & ELKINS, L.L.P. (HOUSTON, TX, US)
Claims:
1. A method of determining a college football national champion comprising the steps of: obtaining a final regular season ranking of the eligible college football teams in which the eligible teams receive a numerical ranking from highest to lowest; placing a selected subset of the eligible teams in a qualifying round, in which each team whose ranking is in the upper half of the selected subset plays a team whose ranking is in the lower half of the selected subset; and conducting a championship tournament in which a selected number of teams whose ranking is higher than the highest ranked member of the selected subset plays against a selected number of winning teams from the qualifying round in a single elimination format until only one team remains undefeated in the championship tournament; wherein a selected number of the highest ranked teams in the upper half of the selected subset that win their game against a lower ranked team advances to the championship tournament; and further wherein the one undefeated team in the championship tournament is determined to be the national champion.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the top 4 ranked teams in the final regular season rankings are placed as the top four seeds in the championship tournament.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the 4 highest ranked teams from the qualifying round that win their games advance to the championship tournament.

4. The method of claim 2, wherein the selected subset consists of the teams ranked #5 through #44 in the final regular season rankings.

5. The method of claim 2, wherein the qualifying round comprises 4 qualifying tournament brackets of 10 teams each in which the highest ranked team from each qualifying tournament bracket that wins its game in the qualifying round advances to the championship tournament.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the games of the qualifying round and the championship tournament are played in the context of bowl games.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the final regular season ranking is determined by a combination of factors comprising: ranking in one or more opinion polls, ranking in one or more computer generated polls, strength of schedule, schedule ranking, number of losses and number of quality wins.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein the top 2 ranked teams in the final regular season rankings are placed as the top two seeds in the championship tournament.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the 2 highest ranked teams from the qualifying round that win their games advance to the championship tournament.

10. The method of claim 8, wherein the selected subset consists of the teams ranked #3 through #42.

11. The method of claim 1, wherein at least a portion of the qualifying round games are played sequentially so that the lower ranked teams from the upper half of the selected subset play before higher ranked teams from the upper half of the selected subset.

12. A method for selecting a tournament champion in a field of competitors in which the competitors are ranked from highest to lowest, the method comprising: conducting a qualifying tournament comprising one or more brackets in which each competitor ranked in the top half of a qualifying tournament bracket plays a lower ranked competitor in the qualifying tournament bracket; and conducting a playoff tournament in which the highest ranked one or more competitors from the field of competitors play a tournament including a selected number of competitors that advance from the qualifying tournament; wherein the highest ranked competitor from each qualifying tournament bracket that wins a game against a lower ranked competitor advances to the playoff tournament; and further wherein the winner of the playoff tournament is selected as tournament champion.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the field of competitors consists of college football teams.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein the playoff tournament includes the competitors ranked #1 through #4 and the highest ranked competitors from each bracket that win a contest in the qualifying tournament against a lower ranked opponent.

15. The method of claim 12, wherein the qualifying tournament consists of four brackets, and wherein the playoff tournament includes the competitors ranked #1 through #4 and the highest ranked competitor that wins a contest against a lower ranked opponent in each bracket of the qualifying tournament.

16. The method of claim 12, wherein the playoff tournament includes the competitors ranked #1 and #2 and the two highest ranked competitors that win a contest in the qualifying tournament against a lower ranked opponent.

17. The method of claim 12, wherein the qualifying tournament consists of two brackets, and wherein the playoff tournament includes the competitors ranked #1 and #2 and the highest ranked competitor that wins a contest against a lower ranked opponent in each bracket of the qualifying tournament.

18. An improved method of conducting an athletic competition among competitors wherein the competitors are ranked and wherein at least a portion of the competitors each compete in a qualifying tournament, in which selected winners of contests in the qualifying tournament advance to a final tournament, wherein the improvement comprises the step that one or more of the highest ranked competitors that win a contest against a lower ranked opponent in the qualifying tournament advance to the final tournament for determining a winner of the competition.

19. A method for conducting a championship playoff among a plurality of competitors comprising: ranking the eligible competitors from highest to lowest; seeding competitors ranked #1 through #4 into an eight team, single elimination playoff bracket; seeding competitors ranked #5 through #44 into a four bracket qualifying tournament in standard tournament fashion such that each competitor competes in a single contest against a higher or lower ranked opponent; seeding the highest ranked competitor from each bracket in the qualifying tournament that wins a contest against a lower ranked opponent into the single elimination playoff bracket; and conducting the single elimination playoff to determine a champion.

20. A method for conducting a championship playoff comprising: ranking the eligible competitors from highest to lowest; selecting a specified number of competitors from among the highest ranked competitors; conducting a series of qualifying games, in each of which a competitor ranked in the top half of the selected competitors plays an opponent ranked in the bottom half of the selected competitors; and conducting a championship game played by the two highest ranked competitors that win a qualifying game.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the competitors are college football teams.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein the playoff comprises 3 qualifying games.

23. The method of claim 21, wherein the playoff comprises 4 qualifying games.

24. The method of claim 22, wherein the top 3 ranked teams play their qualifying games sequentially such that the third highest ranked team plays first, the second highest ranked team plays second, and the first highest ranked team plays third.

25. The method of claim 23, wherein the top 4 ranked teams play their qualifying games sequentially such that the fourth highest ranked team plays first, the third highest ranked team plays second, the second highest ranked team plays third, and the first highest ranked team plays fourth.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] NA

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] NA

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Division I College Football is the most popular sport in America, yet it is virtually the only one which doesn't determine its champion through a playoff format.

[0004] The reasons given are usually among the following:

[0005] it would undermine the bowls;

[0006] it would make the season too long, thus affecting academics; and

[0007] it detracts from the regular season.

[0008] When examined from different angles, however, the one overriding resistance to having a playoff is simply that the bowl system is far too entrenched to be uprooted, diminished or jeopardized in any way by a playoff.

[0009] One attempt to address this issue is described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,053,823. In the described method, the teams receive a final ranking based on an average of their rankings in various polls and then the top 28 ranked teams are placed in two separate tournaments. The upper, or championship tournament is a 12 team single elimination tournament to determine a national champion, and the lower 16 teams of the selected 28 play in a secondary single elimination tournament, whose games would be played on off days such as Thursdays. In this format, however, the secondary tournament has no implications for the national championship and would thus be of little interest beyond the two participating schools.

[0010] Another attempt at determining a national champion has been attempted when, prior to the 1998 football regular season, the FedEx Orange, Nokia Sugar, Rose and Tostitos Fiesta Bowls joined with the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pacific-10 and Southeastern Conferences and the University of Notre Dame to form the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). This contract runs through the 2005 regular season and the 2006 bowl season.

[0011] The BCS was established to determine the national champion for college football while maintaining and enhancing the bowl system by designating a single bowl each year as the “National Championship Game” in which the highest ranked teams in the BCS rankings play a single game for the national championship.

[0012] The BCS has attempted to retain some of the importance of regional consideration regarding team selection. Specifically, as participating members of the BCS, the four BCS Bowls host designated conference champions in the years the national championship game is not played at their site. Regional consideration tie-ins include the ACC or Big East champion in the FedEx Orange Bowl, the SEC champion in the Nokia Sugar Bowl, the Big Ten and the Pac-10 champions in the Rose Bowl and the Big 12 champion in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

[0013] Should a BCS Bowl's regional tie-in champion be ranked number one or two in the final BCS standings, when such bowl is not hosting the national championship game, the number one or two-ranked team shall move to the national championship game and the Bowl selects a replacement team from the BCS pool of eligible teams. The pool consists of any Division I-A team that is ranked among the Top 12 in the final BCS standings and has achieved nine wins during the regular season, excluding NCAA-exempted contests.

[0014] In the final Bowl Championship Series standings, the two teams with the lowest point total from four categories (poll average, computer average, strength of schedule, losses) in the final standings play for the national championship in the designated bowl. Six of the eight spots in the four BCS bowl games are reserved for the champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC.

[0015] The two at-large berths are determined using the following format, in this order:

[0016] Finishing first or second in the BCS;

[0017] Any Division I-A independent, or winners of Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt or WAC ranked higher than sixth in the BCS;

[0018] Notre Dame also qualifies by winning nine games or being in the Top 10 in the BCS;

[0019] Finishing third in the BCS;

[0020] Finishing fourth in the BCS; and

[0021] At least nine wins and finishing in the top 12 in the BCS.

[0022] In computing the BCS rankings, the following categories are used:

[0023] 1. Poll average (25 percent): The average of the Associated Press media poll and USA Today-ESPN coaches' poll.

[0024] 2. Computer average (25 percent): The second component consists of seven computer rankings. These computer rankings include Jeff Anderson-Chris Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, New York Times, Jeff Sagarin and Peter Wolfe.

[0025] The computer component is determined by averaging the rankings with the worst rating disregarded. For example, if a team is ranked first in three polls, second in three, and third in one, the third-place ranking will be disregarded and the remaining six polls will be added and divided by six (1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2=9/6=1.50).

[0026] In previous years, the margin of victory was also considered.

[0027] 3. Strength of schedule (25 percent): This component is calculated by determining the cumulative won/loss records of the team's opponents and cumulative won/loss records of the team's opponents' opponents. The formula is weighed two-thirds (66.67%) for the opponent's record and one-third (33.33%) for the opponents' opponents record. The team's schedule strength is calculated to determine its quartile ranking, thus the team's schedule ranking is divided by 25. For example, if a team's schedule strength rating is 28th in the nation, that team would receive 1.12 points (28/25=1.12).

[0028] Should a team play a Division I-AA opponent, only the losses of the Division I-AA team or the wins of that team against a Division I-A team are used in determining the opponent's record or the opponent's opponents' record.

[0029] 4. Losses (25 percent): One point for each loss during the season.

[0030] 5. Quality wins: A component to reward teams for beating Top 10 teams.

[0031] After the base BCS ratings are determined, a team gets a bonus point reduction based on a sliding scale for a win over a Top 10 team. A win over the No. 1 team in the basic ratings is worth a 1.0 point reduction, a win over the No. 2 team earns a 0.9 point reduction all the way down to a 0.1 point reduction for beating the No. 10 team.

[0032] If a team defeats the same Top 10 team in the regular season and in a conference championship game, it only gets credited once for a quality win.

[0033] Although the Bowl Championship Series has enjoyed some success, the system has many detractors because of its complicated ranking system, and for the perception by many, that the best two teams don't always get into the national championship game.

SUMMARY

[0034] The present disclosure addresses shortcomings of the prior methods by providing a system for determining a champion of an athletic contest or championship team that is especially applicable to the national championship of college football. The method, or system, is named by the inventor, The Preferred Elimination Playoff© System. This “system” offers the following advantages:

[0035] it preserves the current bowl system by involving all 27 Bowl games;

[0036] it involves up to 44 teams (not just 4, 8 or 16);

[0037] it makes every bowl have National Championship implications, and, as such it enhances every bowl's value by any measure; interest, attendance, TV ratings, and advertising revenue, for example;

[0038] it rewards the regular season by giving the higher ranked teams the “inside track” to the playoff, but keeps the “Cinderella” dream alive;

[0039] it gives lower ranked teams a more meaningful bowl game against a higher ranked opponent rather than a low interest bowl game against an equal or lesser opponent;

[0040] it not only keeps the season the same length, but eventually shortens it for most teams as compared to the current system; and

[0041] it determines an undisputed champion.

[0042] While the determination of a national champion in the NCAA Division I football season is a preferred embodiment of the inventions disclosed herein, the inventions will also find utility in other sports and tournaments. The inventions are especially beneficial for a playoff in which there are a large number of contestants and a limited time or limited number of game dates available, or for any sport in which a competitor is rewarded in a final tournament for performance over a season, or other period of time. Such sports would include, but are not limited to basketball, baseball, hockey, track & field, car racing, motorcycle racing, boat racing, horse racing, golf, tennis, bowling, skiing, soccer, or any other type of sport or contest.

[0043] The disclosure may be described, therefore, in certain embodiments as a method of determining a college football national champion comprising the steps of:

[0044] obtaining a final regular season ranking of the eligible college football teams in which the eligible teams receive a numerical ranking from highest to lowest;

[0045] placing a selected subset of the eligible college football teams, in a qualifying round, in which each team whose ranking is in the upper half of the selected subset plays a team whose ranking is in the lower half of the subset; and

[0046] conducting a championship tournament in which a selected number of teams whose ranking is higher than the highest ranked member of the selected subset plays against a selected number of winning teams from the qualifying round in a single elimination format until only one team remains undefeated in the championship tournament;

[0047] wherein a selected number of the highest ranked teams in the upper half of the selected subset that win their game against a lower ranked team advances to the championship tournament;

[0048] and further wherein the one undefeated team in the championship tournament is determined to be the national champion.

[0049] In certain embodiments the method would include placing the top 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 6, or 7 ranked teams in the final regular season rankings as the top seeds in the championship tournament. These seeded teams would then be joined by an appropriate number of teams from the qualifying round in order to fill out the draw.

[0050] In certain preferred embodiments the qualifying round would include 4 qualifying round brackets of 10 teams each in which the highest ranked team from each qualifying round bracket that wins its game in the qualifying round advances to the championship tournament.

[0051] It is an aspect of the inventions that all the games may be played in the context of bowl games as they exist at the time of filing of the application, or as they may change over time. The context of a bowl game is described elsewhere herein, but in its most basic sense is a permanent site or semi-permanent for an annual post-season college football game and may include named sponsors, a parade, a royalty court, a trophy or other bowl game traditions.

[0052] Although the methods described herein include the ranking of the participants, the manner of assigning the rankings are not critical to the practice of the methods, and any equitable ranking system may be used in conjunction with the described methods. In certain embodiments, the rankings may be based on opinion polls, or a combination of opinion polls, or a combination of opinion polls and computer generated rankings, or they may be determined by factors including, but not limited to ranking in one or more opinion polls, ranking in one or more computer generated polls, strength of schedule, schedule ranking, number of losses and number of quality wins in any combination or any weighting scheme in the combinations.

[0053] The disclosure may also be described in certain embodiments as a method for selecting a tournament champion in a field of competitors in which the competitors are ranked from highest to lowest. The described method includes:

[0054] conducting a qualifying tournament with one or more brackets in which each competitor ranked in the top half of a qualifying tournament bracket plays a lower ranked competitor in the qualifying tournament bracket; and

[0055] conducting a playoff tournament in which the highest ranked one or more competitors from the field of competitors play a tournament including a selected number of competitors that advance from the qualifying tournament;

[0056] wherein the highest ranked competitor from each qualifying tournament bracket that wins a game against a lower ranked competitor advances to the playoff tournament;

[0057] and further wherein the winner of the playoff tournament is selected as tournament champion.

[0058] The disclosure may also be described in certain embodiments as an improved method of conducting an athletic competition among competitors wherein the competitors are ranked and wherein at least a portion of the competitors each compete in a qualifying tournament, in which selected winners of contests in the qualifying tournament advance to a final tournament, wherein the improvement includes the step that one or more of the highest ranked competitors that win a contest against a lower ranked opponent in the qualifying tournament advance to the final tournament for determining a winner of the competition.

[0059] The disclosure may also be described, in certain embodiments as a method for conducting a championship playoff that includes:

[0060] ranking the eligible competitors from highest to lowest;

[0061] seeding competitors ranked #1 through #4 into an eight team, single elimination playoff bracket;

[0062] seeding competitors ranked #5 through #44 into a four bracket qualifying tournament in standard tournament fashion such that each competitor competes in a single contest against a higher or lower ranked opponent;

[0063] seeding the highest ranked competitor from each bracket in the qualifying tournament that wins a contest against a lower ranked opponent into the single elimination playoff bracket; and

[0064] conducting the single elimination playoff to determine a champion.

[0065] Although the described methods may include embodiments in which no teams are seeded into the final tournament based on season rankings and all final participants must compete in a qualifying tournament, it is an aspect of some described methods that a team can earn a seeding into the final tournament based on regular season play.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0066] The following drawings form part of the present specification and are included to further demonstrate certain aspects of the present invention. The invention may be better understood by reference to one or more of these drawings in combination with the detailed description of specific embodiments presented herein.

[0067] FIG. 1 is a diagram of a Qualifying Round Bracket.

[0068] FIG. 2 is a diagram of a Playoff Tournament Bracket.

[0069] FIG. 3 is a diagram of a Playoff Tournament Bracket.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0070] In a preferred embodiment of the present disclosure, the method of determining a national champion college football team according to The Preferred Elimination Playoff© System can be described as follows:

[0071] At the end of the regular season, the top 44 teams are chosen to participate in the Playoff. The teams may be ranked in the final regular season ranking by any means that produces a numerical ranking of teams from best (#1) to worst in descending order. The teams may be ranked by opinion polls, by more objective or mathematical methods, or by a combination of factors such as the BCS ranking formula described above. Conference championships or other conference tie-ins may also be considered if necessary. It is an aspect of the disclosure that the final regular season rankings may be obtained by any equitable method, and that all such methods would be encompassed by the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

[0072] In a preferred embodiment, the top 4 teams in the final regular season rankings receive an automatic berth in the Playoff, which is essentially an 8-team single elimination playoff system that preferably starts around Christmas. These 7 games are preferably played in the context of the “major” bowls. By the context of the major bowl games is meant that the established tradition of major bowls that are played in the same stadiums each year will be maintained. For example, bowl venues in which the stadium itself is named after the bowl such as the Cotton Bowl and Rose Bowl, for example, as well as stadiums that are traditional sites of certain bowl games, such as the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium are maintained in the preferred embodiment. It is understood of course, that the names of stadiums, particular sporting events and football game venues may change without violating the spirit of the present disclosure. The present embodiment, however, includes the option of maintaining the bowl game context as its exists at the time the application is filed, or as it changes over time.

[0073] The other 4 teams (their opponents) in the Playoff are taken from a Qualifying Tournament (QT), or qualifying round preferably involving 40 teams and 20 games. These games may be played in the context of a single 20 game bracket, from which the 4 highest ranked game winners would advance to the Playoff, or this tournament may be configured in 4 brackets, with the highest ranked winner from each bracket advancing to the Playoff. In a preferred embodiment, the Qualifying Tournament may be played throughout the month of December, and the games are played within the context of the “minor” bowls.

[0074] In the practice of the described embodiment, the QT is not an elimination tournament: The teams (5 thru 44) may be seeded & paired in standard tournament fashion and divided into 4 brackets of 10 teams (5 games). By standard tournament fashion is meant that the teams are seeded into the bracket such that the highest ranked teams plays the lowest, middle plays middle, etc. For example, #1 plays #10, #2 plays #9, #3 plays #8, #4 plays #7, and #5 plays #6 in each bracket. In certain embodiments, there may be some leeway in choosing teams that would preserve the bowl invitation process, conference tie-ins and geographical/fan base considerations by allowing the bowl that hosts the top ranked team within a bracket to invite the bottom ranked team from any of the four brackets to play in its game. Of course this process could be extended to the bowls hosting the second, third, fourth, and even 5th ranked team within each bracket. The Qualifying Tournament differs from a standard tournament, in that only the highest seeded winner of their Qualifying Bowl (QB) in each bracket advances to the playoff. This is known as a Preferred Elimination Format (PEF)©.

[0075] To ensure that each game could potentially have championship implications at the time it is played, the lower seed games are played first, and the highest seeds play last. By playing in that order, the team that advances to the Playoff isn't determined until the final QT games in each bracket are played.

[0076] This feature reveals yet another advantage of the PEP—the higher ranked teams get commensurately higher advantages in the playoff, making the regular season even more important than it is under the current system as shown in the following Table. 1

TABLE 1
RankQT SeedAdvantage
#1-#4N/AAutomatic berth
#5-#8#1'sno automatic berth, but
Control Own Destiny -
only need to beat low
seed to advance
 #9-#12#2'sNeed 1 upset to advance
#13-#16#3'sNeed 2 upsets to
advance
#17-#20#4'sNeed 3 upsets to
advance
#21-#28#5's, #6'sNeed 4 upsets to
advance
#29-#44#7's-#10'sCannot advance to
playoffs, but involved
in Bowl game with
Championship
implications

[0077] In the preferred method, there are targets that all teams can shoot for throughout the regular season, not just the top spot; i.e. it is better to finish #1 than #2, better #4 than #5, better #8 than #9, better #12 than #13, etc.

[0078] Although it would seem that the described systems and methods might lengthen the season as a whole, the season still preferably ends in the first week of January, as under the current system. Yet most teams are finished in early-mid December, and only a handful play in more than one postseason game.

[0079] In an alternative embodiment, for example, if the eight-team Playoff proves to be too involved in the context of the bowl game post-season environment, or for any other reason, a “Short Version” of the same system would work equally well and would require even less manipulation of the current bowl system.

[0080] The Short Version of the Preferred Elimination System is the same as that previously described with the following changes:

[0081] The Playoff itself is reduced to four teams instead of eight.

[0082] The Playoff involves three bowls: Orange, Sugar, Rose, for example.

[0083] Only the top two teams get an automatic berth, not four.

[0084] Only two teams emerge from the Qualifying Tournament to play the top two teams.

[0085] In the Short Version embodiment, teams ranked #3 and #4 can control their own destinies by winning their respective Qualifying Tournament games. Preferably teams #3 and #4 would play in the context of a major bowl such as the Fiesta or Cotton Bowl as premiere Qualifying Bowls. They would need to win in order to advance to the 4 team Playoff. In the practice of this embodiment, teams ranked #5 and #6 also play in bowl games such as the Citrus or Gator Bowls in the Qualifying Tournament, but only advance if #3 or #4 is upset, respectively.

[0086] The Preferred Elimination Format applies to the ‘minor’ Qualifying Bowls in the Short Version as in the original plan, except: since only two teams can advance, only the highest ranked winner from each side of the 20 team bracket advances to the playoff.

[0087] The implications of each ranking are summarized in the following table. 2

TABLE 2
RankAdvantage
#1-#2Automatic berth
#3-#4Win Qualifying Bowl and Advance, control own destiny
#5-#6Need upset of #3, #4 respectively to advance
 #7-#24Need commensurately more upsets to advance
#25-#42Spoilers

[0088] The following examples are included to demonstrate preferred embodiments of the invention. However, those of skill in the art should, in light of the present disclosure, appreciate that many changes can be made in the specific embodiments which are disclosed and still obtain a like or similar result without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

EXAMPLE 1

[0089] The following example is based on a hypothetical playoff according to an embodiment of the present disclosure. The team rankings in this example are intended to be those of the 2001-2202 season.

[0090] 2001-2002 Final BCS Rankings

[0091] 1. Miami

[0092] 2. Nebraska

[0093] 3. Oregon

[0094] 4. Colorado

[0095] 5. Florida

[0096] 6. Tennessee

[0097] 7. Texas

[0098] 8. Illinois

[0099] 9. Stanford

[0100] 10. Maryland

[0101] 11. Oklahoma

[0102] 12. Washington State

[0103] 13. Louisiana State

[0104] 14. South Carolina

[0105] 15. Washington

[0106] 16. Michigan

[0107] 17. Georgia

[0108] 18. Syracuse

[0109] 19. Fresno St.

[0110] 20. Virginia Tech

[0111] 21. Brigham Young

[0112] 22. Florida State

[0113] 23. Ohio State

[0114] 24. Louisville

[0115] 25. Toledo

[0116] 26. Hawaii

[0117] 27. Arkansas

[0118] 28. Marshall

[0119] 29. Texas Tech

[0120] 30. UCLA

[0121] 31. Auburn

[0122] 32. North Carolina State

[0123] 33. USC

[0124] 34. Georgia Tech

[0125] 35. Boston College

[0126] 36. Texas A & M

[0127] 37. Mississippi

[0128] 38. Kansas State

[0129] 39. Michigan State

[0130] 40. Alabama

[0131] 41. Iowa State

[0132] 42. Clemson

[0133] 43. Purdue

[0134] 44. Iowa

[0135] The four Qualifying Tournament brackets including a projected bowl context for the season in this example are shown in FIG. 1. The hypothetical 8 team Playoff bracket in the major bowl context is shown in FIG. 2. In this example, the four teams that emerge from the Qualifying Tournament would be seeded into the Playoff to play #1 Miami, #2 Nebraska, #3 Oregon and #4 Colorado. In traditional seeding, the lowest ranked team in the Playoff would play its first game against #1, second lowest team would play its first game against #2, the third lowest ranked team would play its first game against #3 and the fourth lowest ranked team would play its first game against #4. Alternatively, as shown in the bracket, the team that moves on from the bracket with the #5 team would play #4 in the playoff, the team from the bracket with the #6 team would play #3, the team from the bracket with the #7 team would play #2, and the team from the bracket with the #8 team would play #1 in the first round of the Playoff.

[0136] In the brackets shown in FIG. 1, Florida would advance if they beat Iowa. If Florida is upset, then Stanford would advance if they beat Alabama. If both Florida and Stanford are upset, then Louisiana State would advance if they beat Texas A&M. In like manner, Tennessee would advance if they beat Purdue, and if not, then Maryland could advance by winning, or South Carolina would advance by winning if the two higher ranked teams are both upset. The team advancing to the Playoff from the other two brackets is determined in the same manner.

[0137] In the unlikely event that no favored team wins within a bracket, then the highest ranked team in any bracket that wins its QT game, and that would not otherwise advance would then advance to the playoff.

EXAMPLE 2

[0138] The following is a hypothetical example of a playoff using the Short Version described above, and utilizing the final ranking shown in Example 1.

[0139] In this example, the qualifying tournament would consist of 2 brackets of 10 games each as follows: 3

Bracket 1Bracket 2
#3 Oregon vs. #42 Clemson#4 Colorado vs. #41 Iowa State
#5 Florida vs. #40 Alabama#6 Tennessee vs. #39 Michigan
State
#7 Texas vs. #38 Kansas State#8 Illinois vs. #37 Mississippi
#9 Stanford vs. #36 Texas A&M#10 Maryland vs. #35 Boston
College
#11 Oklahoma vs. #34 Georgia Tech#12 Washington State vs. #33 USC
#13 Louisiana State vs. #32 North#14 South Carolina vs. #31 Auburn
Carolina State
#15 Washington vs. #30 UCLA#16 Michigan vs. #29 Texas Tech
#17 Georgia vs. #28 Marshall#18 Syracuse vs. #27 Arkansas
#19 Fresno St. vs. #26 Hawaii#20 Virginia Tech vs. #25 Toledo
#21 Brigham Young vs. #24#22 Florida State vs. #23
LouisvilleOhio State

[0140] In this example, Oregon would advance to the Playoff against #2 Nebraska unless they were upset. If Oregon loses, then Florida would advance if they win, and if not, then Texas would advance with a win, etc. In Bracket 2, Colorado, with a win over Iowa State, would advance to play Miami, and Tennessee would advance if they win and Colorado loses. If Colorado and Tennessee were both upset, then Illinois would advance with a victory, etc. In preferred embodiments, the Short Version Qualifying Tournament would also be played in the context of bowl games as described above.

[0141] An example of the hypothetical Playoff of this example is shown in FIG. 3.

EXAMPLE 3

[0142] The following example is a simple alternative that applies the concept of the Preferred Elimination Playoff system to the Bowl Championship Series bowl games as they exist at the time of filing of this application. Here, only a minor modification is needed to make all BCS bowls relevant to the National Championship.

[0143] In this embodiment, the non-BCS post-season bowl games are unaffected. The BCS process may remain the same at the end of the season (six major conference winners plus two at large teams are selected) or the system of this Example can accommodate changes in the BCS selection system. However they are selected, however, the eight BCS teams are seeded 1-8, according to their BCS ranking, or by any other means.

[0144] Using the 2002 NCAA football season, the top eight teams were ranked as follows at the end of the regular season and prior to the bowl games:

[0145] 1. Miami

[0146] 2. Ohio State

[0147] 3. Georgia

[0148] 4. Southern California

[0149] 5. Iowa

[0150] 6. Washington State

[0151] 7. Oklahoma

[0152] 8. Florida State

[0153] Under the system in place at that time, the BCS provided 3 games with no national championship implications and 1 game that determined the national champion. The embodiment of this example would greatly improve the interest and marketability of the BCS system by providing 5 post season games, each with national championship implications.

[0154] In the embodiment of this example, one additional bowl is elevated to BCS status based on a bidding process, for example. For purposes of illustration, the Capital One Citrus Bowl is selected since they had the largest non-BCS payout ($5 million) in the previous year. The New-Year's Bowls would match the top 4 teams versus the 5-8 teams in four of the BCS Bowls (played on, or around, New Year's Day), matched either objectively or selectively by the BCS committee, or by any other method.

[0155] Using this playoff system, an example of the January 2003 BCS bowls are: 4

ORANGE BOWL1. Miamivs.7. Oklahoma
CITRUS BOWL2. Ohio Satevs.8. Florida State
SUGAR BOWL3. Georgiavs.6. Washington State
ROSE BOWL4. USCvs.5. Iowa

[0156] This hypothetical lineup demonstrates a method of selecting teams in which regional and historical bowl game ties are exploited to increase interest in the games. With the Preferred Elimination Playoff system, only the two highest ranked winners advance to the championship bowl. Using the 2002-2003 scenario, that game, the championship bowl would be the Fiesta Bowl, which would be played approximately one week after New Year's day.

[0157] The games are played in chronologically reverse order, so that the #4 team plays first, #3 plays in the second game, #2 plays in the third game and the #1 team plays last. In this way, each game could have national championship implications at the time the game is played. As with the larger formats as shown in Examples 1 and 2, each BCS Bowl game now has national title implications. For example, should #4 USC beat #5 Iowa, they become Championship Bowl eligible, but they won't know their fate until the higher-ranked teams play their bowls. (thus, further increasing national interest). The higher ranked teams have a commensurately better chance to advance to the Championship Game, as they should. For example, the #4 team, if it won its game, would need two upsets among the top three teams in order to advance to the championship bowl. The #3 team, if it won its game, would need only one upset of either #1 or #2 in order to advance. Even the #5 and #6 teams could advance with a sufficient number of upsets of the #1-#4 teams. A summary of the rankings and the advantages of a higher regular season ranking follows: 5

TABLE 3
RANKINGADVANTAGE
#1, #2Control destiny-win & advance
#3Win & need one upset of #1 or #2
#4Win & need two upsets of #1, #2 or #3
#5Win & need three upsets of top 4
#6Win & need upsets of top 4, or win & only
win by top 4 team is against #5
#7, #8Spoilers only-cannot play in championship
game

[0158] Although this example has described an 8 team playoff in 5 bowl games, this method could be applied to any number or combinations of teams/bowls. For example, this system could simply be applied to the four current BCS bowls, in a system in which 6 teams play in three BCS bowls as qualifiers and one current bowl is designated as the championship; or any other combination of four or five bowl games in which preliminary bowl games serve as qualifiers and one is the championship game.

[0159] All such systems would preferably include the following characteristics:

[0160] i) teams pre-seeded

[0161] ii) lower ranked teams play higher ranked teams

[0162] iii) only the highest ranked winners advance

[0163] iv) higher ranking gives more control of destiny

[0164] v) each bowl has championship implications

[0165] While the methods of this invention have been described in terms of preferred embodiments, it will be apparent to those of skill in the art that variations may be applied to the methods and in the steps or in the sequence of steps of the methods described herein without departing from the concept, spirit and scope of the invention. All such variations and modifications apparent to those skilled in the art are deemed to be within the spirit, scope and concept of the invention as defined by the appended claims.