Friday, September 2, 2011

Joe's Simple Solution For A College Football Playoff: The Playoffs Themselves ('Bout Damn Time)

Well, I think you've had plenty of time to digest my proposal so far as to how to fix college football. Well, now we're into the real heart of the matter - the actual playoff system itself. So let's begin, shall we?

Now that we have ten conferences, all conference champions earn automatic berths. Using the human and computer polls that currently serve as the basis for the BCS, six wild-card entries fill out the remainder of the National Championship bracket. With this information, I'll now give you a hypothetical field of sixteen teams. First, the conference champions:

PAC-10: Oregon
Big Ten: Wisconsin
SEC: Alabama
Big East: Penn State
Texas Athletic: Baylor
Mountain West: Boise State
Midwestern: Nebraska
ACC: Florida State
MAC: Ohio
Great Atlantic: Miami (FL)

Add Stanford, Iowa, Georgia, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Clemson as remaining six teams. Okay, the field is set. So how do we get from sixteen teams down to one? Here are my two options First off is a straight single-elimination tournament. Using the same polls that selected the wild-card teams, seed the entire field from #1 to #16. For the sake of arguments, I'll let you seed the teams how you want. For the First Round, let the top eight seeds host the games. From there on out, use the BCS bowl games (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange) plus two others - let's say the Holiday and Cotton Bowls to stage the quarter- and semi-finals, with the National Championship game held say, the Sunday before the Super Bowl.

The overall season schedule could, in theory, look something like this:

2012 Regular Season Start: weekend of Sept. 15-16
2012 Regular Season End: weekend of Nov. 1-2
Ten game season with two bye weeks
First round playoff games: Dec. 22
Quarterfinals: Dec. 29
Semifinals: Jan. 5, 2013
National Championship: Jan. 27, 2013 (presuming that the Super Bowl is held on Feb. 3, 2013)

I take inspiration for my other from the NCAA's method for determining its champion in Men's Ice Hockey. Take those sixteen teams and put them in four regional brackets using the geographically appropriate teams as best as possible, and use the existing bowls for all 15 games. Using those sixteen teams and fifteen bowls, here's a potential bracket:

West Region:
Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA), 12/22 - Oregon v. Notre Dame
Emerald Bowl (San Francisco, CA) , 12/22 - Stanford v. Boise State
Winners play in Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA), 12/29
Midwest Region:
Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX), 12/22 - Oklahoma v. Ohio
Texas Bowl (Houston, TX), 12/22 - Nebraska v. Wisconsin
Winners play in Cotton Bowl (Dallas, TX), 12/29
Southeast Region:
Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA), 12/22 - Alabama v. Baylor
Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN), 12/22 - Georgia v. Clemson
Winners play in Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA), 12/29
East Region:
Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL), 12/22 - Florida State v. Iowa
Florida Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL), 12/22 - Miami (FL) v. Penn State
Winners play in Capital One Bowl (Tampa, FL), 12/29
National Semifinals:
Fiesta Bowl (Tempe, AZ) - West champion v. Midwest champion, 1/5/2013
Orange Bowl (Miami-Dade, FL) - Southeast champion v. East champion, 1/5/2013
National Championship:
Championship Game (Arlington, TX) - Semifinal winners, 1/27/2013

"What about the rest of the bowls?"

Simple enough. Teams with at least six wins that failed to qualify for the playoffs are still eligible to play in bowl games not affiliated with the National Championship system, with the bowl games themselves played pretty much as they are now.

So there you have it. A simple system - okay, maybe not as simple as I'd like it to be, but it's workable. The situation as it stands now is unworkable - hell, it's fluid as we speak, with Texas A&M leaving the Big 12 after this season and Oklahoma likely to follow, both schools outraged over the ridiculously unfair advantage created by Texas' deal with ESPN to create its own television channel, the Longhorn Network. The Big 12 may fall apart just as fast as the WAC is, as its elite schools move to the Mountain West, while the MWC loses BYU and Utah this year, and TCU bails for the Big East next year. Most college-football pundits see a future of four sixteen-team conferences hoarding all the power and money for themselves. And that's just not right. Conferences should be about local schools and local rivalries, not continent-spanning, money-spinning behemoths. We already have the NFL for that.

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