Inside My Head

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Keep The Bowl System AND Have A Playoff

Posted by Kevin on November 30, 2007

The BCS doesn’t work. It just plain doesn’t. As long as you have situations like the Big 10 and Pac 10 not playing a conference championship game, Notre Dame not even being in a conference, and a 1-loss Kansas team being ranked ahead of a 2-loss Virginia Tech, LSU, USC, or Oklahoma then the system just won’t be able to produce a national champion that we could all agree on. Soft scheduling, lack of a conference championship game, voter bias, etc…. there are too many factors in the way of settling the championship the way it should be settled – on the field.

There are those that will claim the regular season *is* the playoff, but that is far from the truth. A playoff is a single elimination event. If you win, you keep playing. If you lose, you go home. Being that there is only one undefeated team in the BCS top 25, Hawaii should be crowned the BCS Champion by default if the regular season counts as your playoff. But that doesn’t work either, does it?

The answer is a post-season playoff. How many teams can legitimately make any noise for playing for the national title? Four? Eight? Ten? Twelve? Sixteen? For me, I like a 12 team playoff. It allows you to give #1 and #2 a bye week as their pat on the back before their playoff run begins. There’s also no extended break between conference championships and the bowls/playoffs. All of that dead time ruins it for me. Give them a week off after conference championships and then get after it!

Speaking of conference championships, all conferences should have one. And speaking of conferences, any team wanting to compete for a national championship should be in a conference. Any team choosing not to participate in a conference will be left out of post-season play entirely (bowls and playoffs).

I’m not going to be so hardcore as to setting a static bracket that places certain conference champions against one another. I say leave the bracket as the top 12 in the BCS standings after the conference championships are played, even if that means two conference teams will meet in the early rounds of the playoffs.

Go back to a standard 11-game regular season and start it the last weekend in August. Each team gets one off week. Play conference championships Thanksgiving weekend (Nov 24). Give everyone the next weekend off (Dec 1). Start up the playoffs the next weekend (Dec 8 ) and you’ll have your champion the first or second weekend in January. And you can do all of this with minimal disruption to the bowl system and what’s left of old traditional conference tie-ins that the BCS hasn’t changed. Sure, by playing the conference championships on Thanksgiving weekend you force old traditional rivalries to move up a week but if you want a true champion crowned at the end of the season you have to make some sacrifices. The rivalries will still be just as heated if they’re played a week earlier.

Here’s how my playoff system would work this year. Pretend the conference championships have already been played and the teams below represent the final BCS top 12 at the end of the regular season.

Playoffs

Notice that this year the top 12 has several potential rematches of conference opponents. That’s just the nature of the system. It could happen. All it really tells me, though, is if it happens then that conference must have been very strong that year to have more than one team make it that far. It happens in baseball and basketball from time to time as well.

You could even go so far as to re-seed the teams each round but that would just complicate it too much. Once you have your top 12 I don’t think there’s too much argument that could be made for someone getting screwed unless you end up 13th or 14th. That’s a far cry from being screwed as #3 or #4.

We’ll need to expand the number of BCS bowls to six for the playoffs, so let’s add the Cotton and Capital One bowls for argument sake. You could add on to the bowl selection TV show and have bowl representatives draw the the game that they will host in the first or second round of the playoffs as part of the show. Play the first round playoffs as home games at the team with the higher seeds. Play the quarter-final and semi-final games at the BCS bowl sites and the BCS Championship game at the rotating bowl site. Just set it up where a BCS bowl site does not host a semi-final game and the championship game so that they will have plenty of time after their quarter-final game to prepare for the title game.

As for the traditional bowl system, you can still have it and it would still generate the same excitement it does today for its participants. Play the playoff games on Saturdays and play the traditional bowl games during the week. It’s dang near nonstop football all December long! Conference ties are no more broken up with the playoff system than they are with the current BCS. Everything falls into place the last regular season weekend and conference championship weekend. The bowl scheduling may need to be tweaked a little, but the BCS has already forced that once; there’s no reason it couldn’t be shuffled again to fit into the playoff system to maximize the offerings to the fans.

Santa, make this happen.

edit: Added in 2007 dates above to hopefully make my proposed time line make more sense.

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One Response to “Keep The Bowl System AND Have A Playoff”

  1. Kyle said

    Excellent article! This is great stuff, and I completely agree. I know that doesn’t really contribute much, but I honestly have no gripe – this is exactly the way that BCS needs to work.

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