Tuesday, November 16, 2010

College Football Playoffs

I hope we can all agree that the BCS is a disaster and an embarrassment. If you're reading this, I probably don't need to tell you the history. But the BCS is its own entity comprising authorities from six conferences, which at the time of its creation were considered the strongest and most significant conferences in college football. The fact that that is clearly no longer the case (Big East, ACC - really?), and yet the BCS continues to serve those conferences while blatantly discriminating against teams from other, stronger conferences (MWC, WAC) is reason enough, and probably the main reason to do away with the BCS. The fact that it claims to want to settle the dispute over which team is the best "on the field" while ignoring results that took place on the field (i.e., overlooking undefeated teams in favor of one-loss teams) is only further evidencce of its hypocrisy and incompetence.

Since everyone knows the BCS is a joke, here is my solution, in the form of a 16-team playoff. The teams would include all of the 11 conference champions plus five at-large teams. The at-large teams would be the five highest-ranked teams that are not conference champions, combining the point totals from the AP and Coaches' polls. The teams would be seeded by ranking also by combining the points from those two polls. (There would have to be some set rule or procedure to avoid rematches, which I'll try to come up with.) No computer polls or other polls would have any part in the process. The BCS would be eliminated.

The playoff games would be played on successive weekends following the end of the regular season, all games being played at the higher-seeded school's home stadium, with the possible exception of a predetermined site for the championship game, as with the Super Bowl. This would help reduce traveling expenses, would provide income to schools hosting games, and would be a greater convenience to players and ticket-buying fans. The bowls would be eliminated for these top teams, but bowl games could still take place for teams not in the playoffs. These 16 schools, then, would play 15 games rather than eight, giving more opportunity for revenue generating, for those interested in money.

So, for example, this year's regular season ends December 4. The first round of the playoffs would take place Dec. 11, quarterfinals Dec. 18, semifinals Dec. 25, championship game Jan. 1. (There could be some adjustment possibly if the NCAA wanted to avoid Christmas.) In most years the championship game would take place near New Year's Day.

As a further example, I've compiled a list of the 16 teams who would play and where they would be seeded if the season ended today. In other words, the teams currently leading the conferences (ties being broken by the AP and Coaches' polls) and the other five highest-ranked teams. They would be as follows, with seedings in parentheses:

ACC: Virginia Tech (12)
Big East: Pittsburgh* (15)
Big Ten: Wisconsin (6)
Big 12: Nebraska (9)
Conference USA: Central Florida (14)
Mid-American Conference: Northern Illinois (13)
Mountain West: TCU (4)
Pac-10: Oregon (1)
Southeastern Conference: Auburn (2)
Sun Belt: Florida International* (16)
Western Athletic Conference: Boise State (3)

At-large teams:
LSU (5)
Stanford (7)
Ohio State (8)
Michigan State (10)
Oklahoma State (11)

*Currently, Pittsburgh is 5-4 and FIU is 4-5. If a conference champion would happen to not be bowl eligible, that conference would lose its automatic spot and a sixth at-large team would be chosen.

So by standard seeding procedures, the first-round games would be:
(16) FIU @ (1) Oregon
(9) Nebraska @ (8) Ohio St.

(12) Virginia Tech @ (5) LSU
(13) Northern Illinois @ (4) TCU
(15) Pittsburgh @ (2) Auburn
(10) Michigan St. @ (7) Stanford

(11) Oklahoma State @ (6) Wisconsin
(14) CFU @ (3) Boise St.

On Dec. 5, I'll put my plan to the test against the real end of regular season results. Stay tuned.

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