Monday, August 18, 2003


Man, I'm psyched! When I started this blog, really the only reason was the ECF Championship. I spent all of last season emailing my friend Ray (author Ray Murphy) all of these rules, and we spent a good chunk of last year following them, and arguing about them, and watching college football in a different way.

It was so much fun that Ray suggested I start my own site, which I was already considering, and here I am. The goal was to get at least a few readers before the season began, and I'm constantly amazed at how many people seem to come here on a regular basis. I've met lots of cool people too, something I hadn't counted on.

So, life is good.

And now, without further delay, the Eisenberg College Football Rules Presentation!

Voting to decide the championship of any team sporting endeavor is a ridiculous idea. Yet those of us who are College Football fans have had to endure that very thing, having our Champions traditionally decided by two polls. One was a vote of the coaches, who knew everything about only three teams - the one they played this week, the one they play next week, and their own. The other is a vote of sportswriters, who know nothing about everything. Letting those two groups (or any group, really) choose who the Champion was, especially when bowl games did not even necessarily match the best teams, robbed College Football of what is basic to sports, a chance to settle things on the field of play.

The Bowl Championship Series was an incredibly feeble attempt to rectify the situation. Stirring together polls, computer models, and strength of schedule formulas into one giant vat of Predictor's Stew, all the BCS wanted to do was make sure that the perceived Top Two teams met in a Bowl game. While this seems like a simple enough goal, it dodges the obvious problem: It is just as hard to figure out who the top two teams are as it is to figure out who the top one team is, maybe even harder.

A tournament is needed. Every other level of every other team sport in America has some sort of playoff, and 1-A college football should be no different. Of course, there's a better chance of Rick Neuheisel coaching in a PAC-10 Championship game than there is of there being a 1-A tournament. So what to do in the meantime? Eisenberg Sports has come up with an answer.

The idea is to figure out all of the things we expect a Champion to do, and all of the things we expect them not to do, and then hold each team accountable. There are certain acts that all of us would probably agree on. Should a Champion go undefeated? Well, it would be nice, but the best team might have stumbled along the way. So are all losses acceptable? Of course not. Should a Champion win their Bowl game? Absolutely.

But then there are other things that are less clear. Is it fair or wise to declare only one Champion without a tournament? Should a bad loss at the beginning of the season count as much as one at the end? What kind of loss is acceptable, and what kind isn't?

What Eisenberg Sports has tried to do is set up a list of rules that teams need to follow in order to end up one of Eisenberg's College Football (ECF) Champions. Every single one of the 117 Division 1-A teams has a chance to be an ECF Champion. In general, we have leaned towards being more inclusive than exclusive, so that there can be little doubt that a non-ECF Champion is deserving. We do this because without a tournament, there really is no way of knowing for certain who the best team is.

Every week this football season, Eisenberg Sports will have updates about who is eliminated from ECF Championship contention, and who is still alive. We will have previews of key ECF matchups of the upcoming weekend, and forecasts as to team's chances of becoming an ECF Champion. The rest of this week, I will take time to respond to reader's emails. I'm sure people will want some aspects of the ECF Rules explained further.

Below are the ECF Championship Rules, and examples of how it worked last season.


1. The Three Weeks Rule - Eisenberg Sports recognizes that some excellent teams will trip up very early in the year. Any one loss of any kind in the first three weeks of the season will not be cause for elimination from ECF Championship contention provided that they are perfect - no losses, Acceptable or Unacceptable - the rest of the season.

2. Acceptable and Unacceptable Losses - This is a key component of the ECF Championship. Unlike the polls, not all losses are equal here. If you have a road game at Oklahoma and you lose, that doesn't mean that you aren't the best team in the country. EVERY team would be an underdog in Oklahoma, just like Oklahoma would be an underdog in a half-dozen other cities. That has to be accounted for in some way, and we try to do that here.

A. Definition of Unacceptable Losses - An Unacceptable Loss immediately eliminates you from ECF Championship contention. This is what constitutes an Unacceptable Loss:

- 1. Any loss on your home field, in regulation or in overtime.
- 2. Any loss in regulation on a neutral field.
- 3. Any loss by 17 or more points on the road.
- 4. Any loss to a non-Division 1A opponent.

These are things that should never happen to a team of Championship caliber.

B. Definition of the Acceptable Losses - Acceptable Losses do not automatically eliminate you from ECF Championship contention. These losses include:

- 1. Losses on the road by 16 or fewer points.
- 2. Overtime losses on a neutral field.

3. The Overtime Rule - Eisenberg Sports considers the current overtime rule of the NCAA to be ridiculous, but we'll use it. However, we'd like to tinker with it a little.

a. An OT win by the home team is considered a tie, half win - half Acceptable Loss, for both teams. If a home team can not prove they are the better team in regulation, than they aren't.

b. An OT win by the road team is considered to be a win for the road team, and an Unacceptable Loss for the home team.

c. An OT win on a neutral field will be a tie, half win - half-Acceptable Loss for the OT winner, and an Acceptable Loss for the loser.

4. Accumulation of Acceptable Losses - At some point, Acceptable Losses become unacceptable. Most teams are allowed to accumulate only 1.5 Acceptable Losses throughout the regular season. Because teams that have played in and won a conference championship game have in essence won a second Bowl Game, we allow them to accumulate 2.0 Acceptable Losses throughout the regular season. Any amount of Acceptable Losses beyond these numbers - 2.0 for conference champion winners, 1.5 for everyone else - will eliminate a team from contention in the ECF Championship.

5. Conference Championship Games - All teams that play in a conference championship game must win it, either in regulation or overtime.

6. Bowl Games - If two ECF-eligible teams are playing in the same bowl game, then the winner, either in regulation or in overtime, will be declared one of our ECF Champions. Any ECF-eligible team facing a non-ECF-eligible team in a bowl game must beat them in regulation time to be declared one of our ECF Champions. Failure to appear in a bowl game will be cause for elimination.

7. The Top Ten Rule - Teams must beat another team that is in the Top Ten in either Poll when they play, or in the Top Ten later in the season. This is an attempt by Eisenberg Sports to insure that strength of schedule is considered, and gives our poll-loving fans something to do.

8. The Everyone is Eliminated Rule - If by some chance, at any point in the season or after the bowl games, all 117 teams have been eliminated, there will still be at least one ECF Champion. The way the ECF Champion is chosen is by the following rules:

a. Only bowl game winners are considered.
b. The first game of every team is eliminated.
c. If any team or teams would now qualify for the Championship, they would be declared the ECF Champions.
d. If no team qualifies, then the second game of every team would be eliminated. If there is anyone would qualify, they would now be considered the Champions.
e. If no team qualifies, weeks from the beginning of the season will continue to be eliminated until we have a winner.

Examples of the Rules from 2002:

1. Iowa - Iowa lost at home to Iowa State, an Unacceptable Loss. However, because it was in only their third game of the season, it was protected by Rule 1, The Three Weeks Rule. If Iowa had been perfect the rest of the way, with no Acceptable or Unacceptable Losses, they could have still been an ECF Champion. They won from then on until they lost to USC in the Orange Bowl.

2. TCU - TCU lost their opening game at Cincinnati in overtime, a half-Acceptable Loss. They then won eight in a row before losing at East Carolina, 31-28, an Acceptable Loss. With only 1.5 Acceptable Losses, TCU would have been an ECF Champion after beating Colorado State in their bowl game. However, they violated Rule 7, having never beaten a Top Ten team the entire season, and were eliminated.

3. Georgia - Georgia was 8-0 going into its game with Florida, known as The World's Largest Cocktail Party. The Bulldogs had been routinely thrashed by Spurrier's Gators, and the entire state of Georgia was salivating over the chance to make amends against Ron Zook's less than stellar squad. It was not to be though, as Georgia fell to Florida once again, 20-13. This was an Unacceptable Loss, a violation of Rule 2A-2, which states that you can not lose games in regulation on a neutral field. The Florida game eliminated Georgia.

4. USC - USC lost at Kansas State 27-20, an Acceptable Loss, and then again two weeks later at Washington State 30-27 in overtime, a half-Acceptable Loss. With only 1.5 Acceptable Losses for the season, USC was alive for a share of the ECF Championship entering the Orange Bowl game with Iowa(Rule 4). They trounced Iowa 38-17 to become an ECF Champion.

5. Oklahoma - Oklahoma was 8-0 when they lost at Texas A&M 30-26, an Acceptable Loss, and they were 10-1 when they suffered another Acceptable Loss, 38-28 at Oklahoma State. Fortunately for Oklahoma, they still qualified for their conference championship game, because they would need that win to overcome the two Acceptable Losses(Rule 4). Oklahoma crushed Colorado 29-7, and then Washington State in the Rose Bowl 34-14, to become an ECF Champion.

6. Miami and Ohio State - Both teams went through the season perfectly, so what was known as their BCS Fiesta Bowl matchup was also a game for a share of the ECF Championship. Ohio State won 31-24 in overtime to become an ECF Champion.

Last year, the season finished with three ECF Champions. All three teams had incredible years, staying within the ECF Rules, and to try to choose who would win between them is folly. Those three teams are Ohio State, Oklahoma, and USC.

This year's College Football season starts August 23. There will be two games, Kansas State vs. California, and San Jose State vs. Grambling. Eisenberg Sports would like to wish all 1-A universities good health and good luck in their quest for the ECF Championship.

Dave's Email


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