Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Outdated College Playoff Plan

OK, with all the conference re-alignment crud going on... I want to to emphasize that this is my "old plan", and it probably won't work when everything shakes out in the end.  So, it will need to be "adjusted" once all this conference swapping settles down.

However, I still feel like it's a good starting point, toward the development of a College Football playoff system.

Right now, the following conferences are Automatic Qualifiers for the BCS Bowls.
The ACC, The Big 12, The Big 10, The Big East, The Pac 12, and the SEC.

That's six of the schools right there, to qualify for either:  The Rose Bowl, The Fiesta Bowl, The Orange Bowl, The Sugar Bowl, or the BCS Championship game.  So that's five games.  Five games would need ten teams... 6 of which are decided by conference champions, and 4 basically at large teams.  However, only 2 of these teams will play for the championship... no matter if 3 teams are undefeated, or if there are several one loss teams stacked into the top ten.

I've heard arguments that College Football doesn't need a playoff system, because the regular season is their playoffs, and by adding a playoffs system, you would devalue the regular season.

Now, I have also heard the argument time and time again, that you cannot get rid of the Bowls, because they pay the schools too much money, and school officials do not want to miss the big payout they receive for being a bowl game attendee. 

So my thought is this....  is there a way we can do it all?  Can we have a playoff, have the regular system mean something, and still incorporate the Bowls to mean something?  I think we can.

First of all, as of right now I think the Big East and/or Big 12 should be stripped of their "automatic qualifier" status until they are able to host a championship game.  Only conference champions of 12 member conferences are "automatic qualifiers".  The Big East is down to what...6 Football schools with Pitt and Syracuse's departure?

So let's say the Big 12 gets back up to 12 members... for the heck of it.  And so we have 5 Automatic Qualifiers...  These five get an automatic birth in the 8 team tournament.  The other 3 teams are selected "at large" from the field, an undefeated team from a lower conference (like Houston this year), or a one loss team to a team from a power conference in the same division (like Alabama this year)... whoever.  We will use the rankings, top 3 teams that aren't Conference Champions are in.  I don't even care which ranking system we use.  We can use the current BCS rankings if they want to.

That is a field of 8.  5 Automatic Qualifiers and the top 3 "At Large" teams.

Round One of the playoffs will occur the week after Conference Championship Game week.   This will be seeded 1-8 by their ranking.  Seeds 1-4 will host... seeds 5-8 will play on the road.  Typical seeding would be used 1vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, 4 vs 5.

Round 2 of the Playoffs would be the Semifinals and Bowl Week.  Depending on the winners of the first round... You could have Orange and Fiesta be the semi-finals one year, and Rose and Sugar the next year... or however you want to do it... say a Big 10 and Pac 12 team are matched up for the Semi's that would be the Rose Bowl.  Each of the Bowls would still get a quality (think top 8 in the country) team to play in their game, and two of the games would be semi-finals for the national championship game.

Round 3 would include the two winners of the Semifinals, and would be played one week following the bowl games, for a true National Championship Game.  It would be played during the same week

In one stroke of genius, you've included everything, a true playoff system, the bowl games, and the regular season still counts.

For those people who cry out about "extending the season" or other such nonsense... For 8 teams, you would extend the season by ONE GAME.  And two teams would play two extra games.  That's it.

It could work.  It doesn't cheapen the bowls.  Are the bowls cheapened now?  In fact, with two of the Bowls being National Semifinals, it actually increases the importance of the Bowls.  Currently none of the teams playing in the Orange, Rose, Sugar, or Fiesta Bowl are contenders for the national championship.  This would change that.

I'm not saying it's perfect.  Maybe you want to hold the Round One two weeks after the Conference Championships so things are a bit more spread out.  Whatever, that's fine.  And I know, people will say.. .but, but, but what about the 9th best team, etc...  It's not basketball.  We're not going to be able to have a field of 64 or 68, the line has to be drawn somewhere.  In my opinion, this does the best job of covering all the bases needed.


  1. "Only conference champions of 12 member conferences are "automatic qualifiers"

    There are currently 6 conferences with 12+ schools heading into next year. That would leave 2 spots open. So if Big 12 went to 12 teams then that would leave 1 spot open. What if the Mountain West and Big East expanded to 12... now you have 9 conference champs. Who gets the nod?

    Also, what if the SEC or PAC-12 expand to 16 teams? Wouldn't they be more deserving of 2 AQ teams than Big East getting 1?

    Finally, the thought that "College Football's regular season is a playoff" can't be correct if LSU and Alabama re-match in the Championship.

  2. DA,

    You raise some good points. Great points, actually.

    1. I did a poor job defining the conferences that are automatic qualifiers. What I meant was, out of the current auto qualifiers. Don't think the MAC should get one... Or the Mountain West if that gets big enough. I think if the Big 12 or the Big East falls below 12 they should lose it.

    2. Like I said in the earlier post, The Big East has a total of 6 Football schools left. They would need to add 6 FB schools to get to 12. There are currently 16 bb schools already, which will drop to 14... adding six schools would be a 20 team conference? Not going to happen, unless they get some schools to join for "football only".

    3. Well the SEC and ACC are already at 14 teams each, and I can easily see both of them go to 16 teams. The Pac 12 openly debated going to 16 already. You question of 2 AQ teams??? I don't think so, I think they get one, and like I said they Big 12 and Big East need to get to 12 or lose AQ status.

    4. I also agree with that whole point about Alabama and LSU. Which is why I'm in favor of a playoff system of some sort.

    5. Not sure what we do with the WAC, Mountain West, MAC, Southland, etc, etc... I mean if the school is undefeated and ranked in the top 8, they should get in the field of 8. Like Houston this year, or Boise State and TCU in past years.

    6. My last point.... It ain't perfect. Like I said it's an "outdated" plan. I wrote it a few years back before all the "conference switching". Do we go to 4 16 team conferences (64 teams)? and have the four conference champs play it out? Do you create a "new class" for the WAC/MAC/MWC teams, somewhere between the top 64 and the FCS Division?

    Good thoughts, and thanks for your comment!