Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to Fix College Football: BCS Playoffs

With college football bowl season beginning in two weeks, football fans will be treated to 34 different bowl games.

However, what if I told you that only one of those 34 games will have any "real" stakes or meaning to an average viewer? Also, what if I told you that the championship game will be played between two undefeated teams based on a selection system, rather than a playoff system, while three other undefeated teams are left out, not getting the chance to play for a championship.

Sounds like a crappy system, right?

So as the 2009 season comes to end, teams and fans are wondering why Division 1 College Football is so resistant of a playoff system. It seems so logical- giving the fans better games, and more money to be made all around.

Maybe there just hasn’t been a solid proposal yet? If so- let me try to step in, and give my proposal on how to fix college football.

Playoffs: 8 teams, 3 rounds (1 vs. 8, 4 vs. 5, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6 format)

Selection: There are currently six (6) BSC conferences, which include the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big 12 Conference, Big East Conference, Big Ten Conference, Pacific Ten (Pac 10) Conference, and the Southeastern (SEC) Conference.

…well how about the winners of each conference’s title game, automatically gets a spot in the playoffs. However, there is a catch. That team must have a Top 10 BCS ranking. So if Nebraska had beaten Texas this past Saturday, the Big 12 would have been out of luck, unless Texas would still be eligible for a wild-card spot.

The remaining two (or possibly more) playoff “wild-card” spots would then be determined by the highest ranking non-conference winners determined by the BCS rankings. A wild-card from a BCS conference would automatically be put on the other side of the bracket as their conference winner.

When would this be played? The first round would take place around Christmas. I’m thinking either a December 24-December 25th situation (2 games a day), or an all-day football day on either Christmas or the day after (December 26th). Wouldn’t it be great to have four playoff games all played on the same day? A tradition would be born...

The second round games would be played on New Years Day, with one game at 4pm, the other at 8pm primetime.

The BCS Championship game would then take place one week later on January 8th (this year’s game is on January 7th).

Simple right?

Let’s see how this year’s playoffs would play out.

BSC Conference winners would all be eligible for the playoffs, which would fill out the first six seeds like this:
1) Alabama, 2) Texas, 3) Cincinnati, 4) Oregon, 5) Ohio State 6) Georgia Tech.

The highest ranking remaining non-BCS conference winners and wild-cards would be TCU and Florida.

Yes, undefeated Boise State get’s “screwed” here, but at least they could have known exactly what needed to have happened for them to make the playoffs. In Boise State’s case, if either Oregon, Georgia Tech, Texas, Cincinnati lost this past Saturday, Boise State would have qualified in this system.

So here’s how the playoffs would look and tell me this doesn’t look awesome:
1st round: (1) Alabama vs. (8) TCU, (4) Oregon vs. (5) Ohio State, (2) Texas vs. (7) Florida, (3) Cincinnati vs. (6) Georgia Tech

Sounds good, right? Let’s answer some other questions regarding the system.

What about the other bowls? You can still have all the bowls you want, but they would essentially be like the NIT. Currently, any bowl other than Championship Game is like the NIT anyways. “Yes, we won the Texas Bowl, we might be ranked #24 now!”

What about traditions, like the Rose Bowl? Prestigious bowls like the Rose Bowl would have dibs for the playoffs. For example, the 4pm January 1st second round game could be the Rose Bowl, and so forth. Advertisers would essentially have a bidding war. Get ready for “The Chipotle 1st round Bowl”!

OR you could simply revolve 1st round game sites based on conference. For example, the Sugar Bowl is SEC-based, so you could either have the above Alabama or Florida 1st round game at the Sugar Bowl (in this case Alabama vs. TCU). Same goes for the Rose Bowl (Pac 10) with the Oregon vs. Ohio State game, the Orange Bowl (ACC) with Cincinnati vs. Georgia Tech, and the Fiesta Bowl (Big 12) with Texas vs. Florida.

Also the proposed dates aren’t totally set. The first round could always start on January 1st (for traditions sake), and end on January 15th (only one more week).

Would this system make the regular season shorter? No, it would be exactly the same length, giving school’s maximum opportunity for profit. However, for playoff teams, there would be opportunity for two more games, and essentially more money.

I would only suggest that every BCS conference would play a conference championship game. However, it’s not a big deal if the Big 10 and Pac 10 still didn’t abide.

Playing three weeks in a row and on holidays, that’s too much for college kids!
Yea, we wouldn’t want them to be prepared for a career in professional football, would we? Bowl games are currently scheduled on Christmas Eve, New Years eve, and New Years day, so what would be the difference?

How will this make money? Hello! Right now, there’s 5 BCS Championship Series games. In this playoff format, there would be 7 games (two more games), with all being drastically more important. More money for advertising, schools…pretty much everybody. Plus- it makes regular season games more important as well, with conference and BSC positioning. Essentially, teams who lose a game would have more to play for.

This would benefit professional football: Wouldn’t you feel better about drafting Colt McCoy, or a Tony Pike if you saw him playing in an actual playoff setting? This would be a great indicator to see how players can handle adversity, and the spotlight.

Let’s take the All-State Sugar Bowl between Cincinnati and Florida. Essentially, the winner of this game gets to be the #2 or #3 team in the country. Does it really matter if your team is #3 or #13? You didn't win the championship in both cases, so what's the difference? However, playing well in the college football playoffs would be a lot more pressure on schools and players. Tony Pike playing well in the playoffs is infinitly more impressive than Pike playing well in the now- Sugar Bowl.

This system would also make the conference championship games much more interesting. Let’s go over some hypothetical’s from this year.

What if Georgia Tech lost? Boise State would be the third wild-card

What if Texas had lost? If Texas didn’t fall below Boise State in the BCS Rankings, they might still be in the playoffs. Nebraska would still be on the outside looking in.

What if Cincinnati lost? Pittsburgh would then possibly be in the top 10 BCS Rankings, and they would qualify. Imagine the Cincinnati comeback resulted in a dramatic playoff berth?

What if Oregon lost? Oregon would be out, Oregon State would have outside shot of taking Oregon’s place.

After Boise State, next in line for the wild-card would be Iowa, and so forth (did I hear “bubble teams”?).

This playoff system could rival College Basketball’s March Madness: Going in the later weeks, there would be “bubble teams,” bracketology, and of course, a selection show.

This past Saturday’s college football games were pretty dramatic, but imagine if playoff stakes and championship dreams were on the line?

This is how college football should be!

Done and Done.


  1. I think more people would want the BCS over this playoff system...Boise State is undefeated and beat Oregon yet a Two loss Oregon team gets in the tourney.

    The BCS has 10 spots. A decent playoff should have 12 to 16 teams with 4 rounds. After all, most teams are getting a month off.

  2. So with Nebraska being Big 12 Champs, they still don't get in...why have a Big 12 Conference then?