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Monday, December 08, 2008

My plan to fix college football...or its post-season anyway

So, with 7 one-loss major BCS teams, and two undefeated non-BCS teams, from conferences which have won BCS games, it seems that this year, like each of the last 10 the BCS has been around in one form or another, shows the need for a playoff. College football is the most popular sport in America which rarely crowns an undisputed champion. I tried to keep the current Bowl system in tact since the tradition and money interest in those bowls is such a large part of the resistance. So, I looked at several scenarios and added my own, weighed the pro's and cons and here they are:

Option 1:

The Four team Play-off

Oklahoma v. Alabama winner plays

The Florida v. Texas winner.

Right now you’d only need to add one more BCS bowl game. I’d nominate the Cotton Bowl, to allow for 2 more teams to make it into the BCS, taking Alabama and Texas’ spots in their bowl games. The 2 playoff games would rotate between 5 BCS games, with the National Championship game.

Pro: It's short, you don't have to change much.

Cons: You're screwed if you have seven 1 loss teams, 5 of which have a case.

Option 2:

The 6 Team Playoff

Take the top 6 BCS teams. The top 2 seeds get first round byes. 6 plays 3, 4 plays 5.

1. Oklahoma

2. Florida

3. Texas

4. Alabama

5. USC

6. Utah

The Orange, Rose, Fiesta, and sugar would be the first and second round games, the finale being the championship game. The bowls would alternate out from first to second round.

Pros: Allows for the possible non-BCS team (Utah), as well as for several teams with cases.

Cons: Would add an extra week or two.

Option 3:

The Obama Plan (The 8 Team Play-off)

1. Oklahoma

2. Florida

3. Texas

4. Alabama

5. USC

6. Utah

7. Texas Tech

8. Penn State

The First round games would be these bowl games: Rose,Fiesta,Orange, Sugar.

With the second round games being 2 of these bowl games alternating each year, and a national championship game.

Pros: Allows for more varried match-ups, and possible upsets. More teams get a shot. Would add extra revenue to two of the bowl games each year.

Cons: It's 4 weeks long. All teams play all four weeks. Positioning bowls by region is difficult.

Option 3:

The Floyd Plan (The Championship Scenario)

Each of the 11 conference champions are automatically guaranteed a spot in the playoff, with the seeds based on the conference’s overall conference BCS score. There will also be 1 at large bid, given to the team with the highest BCS ratings which did not win their conference if there is not an independent team with a BCS ranking in the top 12.

This is how it would play out this year

1. Oklahoma (Big 12)

2. Cincinnati (Big East)

3. Virginia Tech (ACC)

4. Florida (SEC)

5. Penn St (Big 10)

6. Utah (Mtn. West)

7. USC (Pac 10)

8. Boise St. (WAC)

9. Buffalo (MAC)

10. East Carolina (CUSA)

11. Troy (Sun Belt)

12. Texas (At Large)

Here the top 4 teams would be given 1st round byes. The first round games would be played on the higher-seed’s campus. The rest of the playoff would follow the bowl scenario in option 3. I went with 12 rather than 4, to allow the fewest number of teams to play 4 weeks in a row. If the playoffs started Dec. 16th the championship game would still be played on January 6th. You could start up to the 20th of December with the game being played on the 13th.

The reason I would have the first round games played on campuses, is that these would presumably be from weaker conferences save the at-large team. This would not add a burden to bowl games to try and get people to come and see a team like Buffalo or Troy, and the atmosphere would be pretty exciting.

One possible change I am still undecided on is where to seed the at-large team. I initially placed them 12th since they were the last added. But then I thought that they should be seeded after their conference champion (seeding once again by conference BCS strength). However, since the 12 would play the 5 it would be essentially a guaranteed BCS v. BCS each year, unless Notre Dame is the at-large.

A possible additional fix would be to re-allign several of the non-BCS conferences to whittle the total number of conferences down to 9 or 10 consisting of 10-12 teams each. Expanding the conferences would stop the scheduling of 1-AA teams by schools in smaller conferences in order to play a DIV 1 non-conference game.

Pros: Places greater emphasis on conference games.

Cons: Gives precedence to teams from weak conferences over stronger teams from BCS conferences. Difficulties would arise when there are co-champions in more than 1 conference.

Option 4:

The 16 Team Playoff

1Oklahoma 12-1 2. Florida 12-1 3. Texas 11-1 4. Alabama 12-1 5. USC 11-1 6. Utah 12-0 7. Texas Tech 11-1 8. Penn State 11-1 9. Boise State 12-010. Ohio State 10-211. TCU 10-212. Cincinnati 11-213. Oklahoma State 9-314. Georgia Tech 9-315. Georgia 9-316. BYU 10-2

Which is what it says it is, the top 16 teams from the BCS. This would need to start the first week of December.

Pro: Even more teams get a shot.

Cons: Would take a month and essentially end bowl games.

My conclusion:

The plan with the fewest games would probably be the most realistic. However, if I could choose, I would go with Option 3, which is why I called it my plan. One of the major objections that the BCS has to a playoff is that it would diminish the weekly importance of each game. However, in this scenario each conference works as a de-facto playoff in itself, giving every team an equal chance at a playoff berth, and possibly a national championship, so each conference game would have added importance. You might say that this would encourage teams to schedule lighter non-conference schedules, and while that may specifically be the case, it would be in the best interests of the conference as a whole to schedule a tougher non-conference schedule, as rankings and first round byes are determined by conference BCS rankings. This also seems to me a more interesting and diverse field of teams. Sure, Texas Tech should be in there, but this is the only option which would allow a non-BCS team, which goes undefeated, to have a shot at the championship, since they would have won their conference. While Utah would have made it in any of these scenarios, due to the MWC’s abnormally strong BCS rating this year, and a dismal Pac-10. This is the only scenario which would have allowed each undefeated team during the last 10 years a shot at the playoffs, including the 2006 Boise St. team. Boise St. has never finished higher than 8 in the final BCS rankings.

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