There are many quality arguments for a college football playoff. There are a few supporting the current system. There are many people who say to hell with the tradition of the bowl games, and many more who aren’t so willing to kick them to the curb. There are those who claim that the regular season is far more exciting than it would be with a playoff intact, and those who feel that the playoff would simply be the appropriate resolution to a captivating regular season.
The Pundit is here to bring you all together.
What will follow is my comprehensive plan to combine the BCS ranking system, a college football playoff, and the current bowl structure. If that sounds crazy, bear with me: I think this could work.
First of all, the regular season would have to be limited to 12 games max, including any conference championship games (which means ACC, SEC and Big-12 schools would be limited to 11 games before their conference championship bouts). Don’t want to lose money by losing regular season games, big conferences? Then cut the cream-puff games against puny schools. The conference championship games would take place a week earlier than they currently do. The week after this game, a 16 team playoff would ensue. The first two rounds would take place, leaving only four teams left to play for the National Championship. These first two rounds would be played at the home stadium of the higher-seeded team. After these two playoff rounds, all of the traditional bowl games would make their selections, picking from a pool of all eligible schools, excluding the four schools playing for the National Championship. This would leave around two to three weeks for the players of these schools to take their finals, the coaches to prepare for their next bowl game, and the fans to purchase their tickets.
Deep breath. And continue…
The four remaining teams would play the semifinal games after the New Year’s culmination of bowl games. These semifinal playoff games would take place on neutral fields. All bowl games would be played on or by January 1st. In the event that January 1st fell on a Saturday or Sunday, the semifinals would take place on Monday and Tuesday. Otherwise, the semifinals would take place on the first Saturday after January 1st, and the National Championship Game would take place a week later.
Alright: how would this thing be seeded?
Good question. The winners of the six BCS conferences (ACC, Big-10, Big East, Big-12, Pac-10, ACC) would be given the top six playoff seeds, placed in order of their BCS rankings. After these six teams, the next ten BCS-ranked teams would qualify. Some stipulations: any BCS conference winner that did not finish the season ranked in the top 20 would still automatically qualify, but would be dropped from the top six seeds and automatically seeded ninth. In this scenario, the highest-rated BCS team that did not win a conference would take their place in the top six. As well, if a non-BCS conference winner, such as Utah this year, finished in the top six, they would be given a seeding in the top six according to their BCS rank, unless all of the BCS conference champions placed in the top ten, in which case that BCS non-conference winner would automatically qualify for the seventh seed. If a non-BCS conference team placed in the top six, the BCS conference champion they ousted from the top six would automatically be given the seventh seed, unless they were ranked lower than 20. Also, there would be no limit as to how many teams from one conference could qualify for the playoff – this year, four teams from the Big-12 would make it, while the Pac-10 and Big East would only have one each. Sorry, fellas.
Any questions? Alright, let’s do some predictions to see how this would play out. Based on what I think will happen for the rest of the season, the following will show exactly what would happen if my model were in place for the rest of the season. Since I predict wins for USC, Oklahoma, Florida and Boston College next week, my BCS top 16 after this weekend would be as follows:
1. Oklahoma 2. Florida 3. Texas 4. Alabama 5. USC 6. Utah 7. Texas Tech 8. Penn State 9. Boise State 10. Ohio State. 11. TCU 12. Ball State 13. Cincinnati 14. Oklahoma State 15. Georgia Tech 16. Boston College
Here’s what the first round match-ups would look like:
1. Oklahoma vs.16. Georgia Tech
8. Texas vs. 9. Alabama
4. Utah vs. 13. TCU
5. Penn State vs.12. Ohio State
6. Cincinnati vs. 11. Boise State
3. USC vs. 14. Ball State
7. Boston College vs. 10. Texas Tech
2. Florida vs. 15. Oklahoma State
Obviously, there are some rematches here – Penn State against Ohio State and Utah against TCU. Hey, that’s how playoffs work, people. As well, the one danger in my system occurs when conference winners aren’t necessarily at the top of the rankings, as evidenced by the monster showdown between Texas and Alabama in round one. But that would add a whole new level of drama to conference play – win the conference, guarantee yourself a high seed, and let everyone else sweat out horrific early match-ups. An important note: round two would be re-seeded. Why? Well, imagine this year, where the third and fourth ranked BCS schools ended up as the eight and nine seeds in the playoff – would it really be fair to ask the top-seeded team in the playoff to face one of them in round two, should that team win? I don’t think so, and thus, I would propose the second round, and only the second round, be re-seeded.
1. Oklahoma vs. 11. Boise State
4. Utah vs. 5. Penn State
3. USC vs. 9. Alabama
2. Florida vs. 10. Texas Tech
Some pretty intriguing games there, right? Let’s whittle it down to four, then figure out the bowls games.
1. Oklahoma vs. 5. Penn State
2. Florida vs. 9. Alabama
Ah, another rematch – that’s a playoff system for you. Now, the 12 teams that lost in the playoffs would be dropped back into the pool of bowl-eligible teams. An important note: the playoff would not affect the BCS rankings before the bowl game selections. Once the playoff begins, the regular season and BCS rankings are closed. The next, and final BCS rankings, would thus occur after all of the bowls and playoff games were decided.
Here’s how I would project the major New Year’s day bowls based on the results of the playoff, using traditional bowl-selection protocol:
Rose Bowl – Ohio State vs. USC
Orange Bowl – Cincinnati vs. Boston College
Fiesta Bowl – Texas vs. Utah
Sugar Bowl – Georgia vs. Texas Tech
I would predict an Oklahoma win over Penn State, a Florida repeat over a worn and torn Alabama team, and an Oklahoma win over Florida for the National Championship.The semifinal and championship games would get huge ratings and generate as much (if not more) revenue as the bowls. Everybody wins.
Whew…that’s my system.
See – you get a playoff, and the bowl games are intact. Perhaps there are those that will argue that my system renders the bowls consolation games; isn’t every bowl game except for the National Championship Game a consolation game in the current system? Some may say that the drama and controversy will get sucked out of the regular season. I beg to differ – it will still be huge to win the conference, and now, instead of the top teams sweating a BCS bowl bid, the teams hovering between rankings 10-20 will be battling every week to get into the playoff. The BCS will still generate controversy, as ultimately a few teams will be left out of the playoff. Imagine this year: Would the voters keep Utah at six, automatically giving them a top-six seeding in the playoffs? Or would they bump them down a slot to seven, altering Utah’s playoff seed from the 4th seed all the way down to the 9th or 10th? Imagine the stakes for the showdown between Georgia Tech and Georgia this past weekend – that game would have had a whole new meaning. Certainly, controversy would remain, but we would have a winner determined by the play on the field.
That’s what we really want, right?