With a majority of college football fans clamoring for a college football playoff over the last several years, many proposals have been brought forth. They have ranged from a simple "plus-one" game, to a 16-team playoff involving automatic bids from all eleven Division 1 conferences. BCS proponents claim the need for the integrity of the regular season. Playoff proponents cite the need for fairness in determining a champion. Why not have both? The eight-team playoff produces a format that will take both into account, and make it a practical change for the NCAA and its BCS bowls to make. Firstly, we'll keep the bowl season intact as it is.
Bowl games will take place, with continued corporate sponsorship if they desire, in late December, with a few in early January. College football has had a long tradition of bowl games and there is no such recommendation to do away with this change.
The Eight-Team Playoff Selection
We will take the six BCS conferences' champions, to be determined by those respective conferences however way they wish, to take six of the eight automatic bowl bids. It is unlikely that we can take away the automatic bid to a BCS bowl game for a Big 6 conference, and would likely result in controversy (in this year's case: the ACC and Big East). Then, an automatic bid will be awarded to the highest ranked team in the BCS rankings that is part of a mid-major conference, or is Notre Dame. Finally, the last bid is an at-large bid, given to the highest-ranked team in the BCS rankings that did not win their conference or get the automatic mid-major bid. While politicking remains, it is now much less likely to result in a school getting snubbed. The best mid-major in the country will now have a chance to play for a championship. In this year's case, the teams would be: #1 Oklahoma, #2 Florida, #3 Texas, #5 USC, #6 Utah, #8 Penn State, #12 Cincinnati, and #19 Virginia Tech. While simply taking the top 8 teams seems more fair than simply taking automatic bids from weaker conferences, that proposal faces difficulty in being accepted because it does not allow BCS bowls to keep their matchups, and BCS proponents believe it is necessary to keep the regular season intact.
Playoffs, 1st Round:
The 1st round will be held on the same dates as the current BCS bowl matchups - at the beginning of January. The BCS bowls can continue to choose their matchups in their usual order, provided they choose within those eight teams previously mentioned. Examples of these playoffs in action:
Fiesta Bowl: #1 Oklahoma (Big-12 champion) vs. #6 Utah (Mid-major at-large)
Rose Bowl: #5 USC (Pac-10 champion) vs. #8 Penn State (Big-10 champion)
Sugar Bowl: #2 Florida (SEC champion) vs. #3 Texas (At-large)
Orange Bowl: #12 Cincinnati vs. #19 Virginia Tech
No playoffs: #4 Alabama, #10 Ohio State
Rose Bowl: #1 Ohio State (Big-10 champion) vs. #7 USC (Pac-10 champion)
Sugar Bowl: #2 LSU (SEC champion) vs. #10 Hawaii (Mid-major at-large)
Orange Bowl: #3 Virginia Tech (ACC champion) vs. #9 West Virginia (Big East champion)
Fiesta Bowl: #4 Oklahoma (Big-12 champion) vs. #5 Georgia (At-large)
Playoffs, Later Rounds:
The 2nd round will take place in the 2nd week of January, and there will be a reseeding of teams, based on rankings prior to the playoffs. Hence, teams that are higher ranked after having a better regular season still benefit. The best team will play the worst, in terms of rankings. The other two winners will play each other as well. They will each play at a BCS bowl venue again, with the choices being of those BCS bowls that do not host the title game. In this year's case, two of the following three BCS bowls will host a 2nd BCS game: Fiesta Bowl, the Rose Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl. They will get to pick the de facto 1 vs. 4 matchup, or the 2 vs. 3 matchup. The Orange Bowl hosts the championship game this year. While one BCS bowl only hosts one game, this will alternate every year so every three of four years, the BCS bowls get more than their share of revenue that they get now. The championship game will be held one week later, completing an eight-team playoff that is more fair and will generate more revenue for college football than ever before, yet is a plan the BCS bowls can accept.
The BCS preserves the excitement and intensity of the college football season.
This new BCS playoff system keeps it without teams getting snubbed. Conference regular season games matter more than ever, and out-of-conference games become important tests in preparation for conference play. Since only eight teams make the playoffs, every regular season game still counts. The BCS rankings still matter in determining two playoff spots as well as seeding in the playoffs, so style points still matter.
The out-of-conference games during the regular season become less important as conference championships are emphasized.
There will be more early season out-of-conference games between top mid-major and major teams, as the race for the playoffs heats up in mid-major conferences from the get go. Since there are two at-large spots, every regular season game for teams that barely fall short of a conference championship in a major conference still matter, as BCS pollsters will determine who gets in. Pollsters get to keep their jobs, even if they have somewhat less power than they do now. In the case of the Big 12 South, pollsters can still affect the outcome of the automatic bid as the champion is selected through BCS ranking. Additionally, the good teams who just want to win their major conference's automatic bid can schedule good out-of-conference teams to be adequately prepared for conference play, as all they have to do is win their conference. Additionally, the TV networks will have more high-profile games to show, due to early nonconference showdowns and the end-of-the year playoffs.
The college football season now extends two more weeks, and now more teams end the season with losses.
Yes, but this only applies to four other teams. Only three more teams will lose in the postseason - those who lose in the 2nd round and the championship game.
I represent Ohio State or Alabama and we deserve to be part of these BCS playoffs.
To preserve the regular season, we can't have either team in the BCS playoffs. Win your conference, or be the best at-large team in the country. Alabama has a good gripe, but winning your major conference will always get you into the BCS playoffs under this system.
The BCS bowls and conference presidents won't agree to this system.
I find it hard to believe they won't be persuaded to agree to this. Sure, the 1st round games lose a bit of importance. However, the BCS bowls will generate more revenue off of two games most years, than their usual one game a year. Plus, they can still choose their favored matchups - the Rose Bowl can retain their Pac-10 versus Big-10 matchup if they want to, provided they are the champions of both conferences. The Big Six conferences will therefore get more revenue going to their conferences. These six conferences are still free to select their conference winners no matter how they want, so this should not be a huge factor.
Why not a 4, 12, or 16-team playoff?
Four-team playoffs snub some major conferences, which means it won't pass. An "and-one" system does not solve the problem of fairness. Meanwhile a 12 or 16-team playoff opens up questions about the loss of excitement in the college football regular season, and the extended week of play makes it difficult for college administrators and presidents to accept. It would also be difficult to get the BCS bowls to agree to giving up so much power for such a playoff, as other bowls would be involved. We also need to keep the bowls intact.
This plan is ultimately about pragmatism, and this idea actually has a good chance of being accepted by most parts of the college football community. This is not a radical change of the system - it's one that is a reform of the current system. BCS bowls and the NCAA receive more revenue, and TV networks will have more exciting matchups. The college football season remains as exciting as it ever was because only eight teams get in. Eight teams, rather than two teams, get to play for the national championship. Mid-majors now have a legit shot at a national title. And most importantly, fans like you and me can finally enjoy a playoff that we have always wanted in college football.
Constructive criticism (and praise) towards this system is welcome. I may have neglected to consider various arguments that would make this system less than satisfactory, but I do believe that this is an effective playoff.
Is this playoff proposal a good idea?
Yes (14 votes)
No (9 votes)
23 total votes