The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

1,000 Reasons Why It Will Not Work–But Here is a Radical Plan for College Football’s Post-Season

Look, line up to tell the Confidential the reasons why this Radical College Football post-season proposal will not work.  But what proposal WILL work?  What solution will keep the conferences, schools, bowls, NCAA, network and fans happy?  The problem is not that a solution cannot be designed.  The problem is that every “solution” is going to be greeted with some sort of opposition.  The problem is that college football is not basketball AND that you cannot design a plan in advance that will accommodate the unique regular season that is taking place.  Accordingly, the Confidential presents its Radical Plan for College Football’s Postseason (the plan).

Under the plan, there will have to be some significant changes.  Instead of trying to design a strict 2,4, 8, 12, or 16 team playoff, the Championship Committee would be vested with the power to determine exactly how the national championship should be played out.  The emphasis would be on ensuring that all undefeated teams at least have the chance to decide it on the field.  The secondary emphasis would be to ensure that as few games as possible are used to reach a national champion, so as not to devalue the regular season.  The third emphasis would be maintaining the traditional tie-ins to the bowl games to the maximum extent possible.  And that is that.  Nothing more, nothing less.

First, the Championship Game (CCG) should be moved to Martin Luther King Day.  Frank the Tank has a great write up on the logic of using that date.

Second, all the BCS bowls should be moved back to January 1st.  Once upon a time, that was a veritable feast of college football.  A fan would plan on going from Cotton to Rose to Orange to Fiesta throughout the day, with a few other games sprinkled in for good measure.  It is easier to carve out a day than it is to carve out the night for several straight days.  This is just the way things are today.  Plus, think of March Madness.  You don’t plan to watch all day, but you get sucked in by the staggered start times and end up enjoying the finish to multiple games.  The networks can just plan on having more commercial value in the second half of bowl games.

Third, College Football needs a Championship Committee to decide who “gets in.”  Most other sports have one to decide who plays in the post-season tournament.  The problem is that College Football is unique in that every regular season game is an event.  Having an 8, 12, or 16 team playoff WILL detract from that.  It just will.  The beauty of college football is that every game matters.  The goal is to keep that.

Fourth, here is where it gets radical.  The Championship Committee is not going to be limited to just deciding who plays, but deciding HOW it plays out.  The Championship Committee will make the final decisions using the BCS Standings issued immediately after the weekend of the conference championship games to make the final plan.  At its disposal will be all of the bowl games, plus at least two non-BCS bowl games.

For example:

  • If there are two undefeated teams, then the Championship Committee will designate those two teams to play in the CCG.  From there, the other BCS bowls just proceed as in the current format.
  • If there is only one undefeated team, the Championship Committee will designate the next two best teams– using the BCS standings– to play for the right to play the bona fide undefeated team in the CCG.  If the two teams that will play in the preliminary game represent both the Big 10 and the Pac 12, the game is played in the Rose Bowl.  If not, the host bowl game is determined by BCS ranking, with the higher ranked team being the host team based on traditional bowl game tie-ins.  The Big East, Notre Dame, and all other conferences would be considered Cotton Bowl or Fiesta Bowl teams, depending on whether the Big XII wanted the Fiesta Bowl or Cotton Bowl.
  • In other situations, the Championship Committee will really have to earn its work.  It can work within the bowl system to create a 4-team “playoff.”  In all circumstances, any “playoff” will be skewed so that the Rose Bowl features a Big-10/Pac-12 matchup.  Beyond that, the Championship Committee would seek to have the bowls feature their traditional tie-ins to the extent possible.  ANY undefeated teams must be included in the 4-team playoff,regardless of BCS ranking.
  • In the rare scenario where there are 5 or 6 undefeated teams somehow, the Championship Committee would be able to have those teams engage in a pre-preliminary round in December to get down to 4 undefeated teams.
  • One tough situation is what to do with a 13-0 Ball State.  If the only other undefeated team is, say, an SEC school, an argument could be made that the fairest result is to just have those teams play.  If LSU had beaten a 13-0 MAC team this year, would the result have been any less valid?  If Ball State wins, it is the national champion.  It would be the only school to go undefeated AND would have beaten the team that beat Alabama and Arkansas.  Would they be “better” than Alabama?  Probably not.  But was Jim Valvano’s famous North Carolina State team better than Houston?  Were they better than everyone else that year?  No and no.  But it is what it is.
  • A second tough situation is where you have two undefeated teams, but neither are even close to #1.  See 2008.  In that circumstance, a 4-team playoff with the top 2 teams in the BCS standings will solve the problem.
  • The third tough situation is when you have no undefeated teams.  In that scenario, you just have to create a 4-team playoff and hope it works out.

After all, there is no sense in having a 4-team playoff when only 2 or 3 teams have a valid claim to be national champions.  However, a 4-team playoff is not even good enough when there are 5 undefeated teams.  And so on.  The only time when it is clear how many games are required is immediately after the season ends.

In 2011, Alabama would have hosted Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl for the right to play LSU.

In 2010, Oregon would have hosted TCU in the Rose Bowl for the right to play Auburn.

In 2009, there were 5 undefeated teams.  Boise State would have played Cincinnati in some December bowl game for the right to play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.  Texas would have hosted TCU in either the Fiesta Bowl or the Cotton Bowl.  The winners of the Sugar Bowl and Fiesta/Cotton Bowl would have played for the national championship.

In 2008, Florida and Oklahoma were the #1 and #2 teams, but not undefeated.  Boise State and Utah were undefeated.  So the Championship Committee would have had Florida host Boise State in the Sugar Bowl.  Oklahoma would have hosted Utah in the Fiesta/Cotton.  And the winners would have played.  While controversy would not have been escaped here, either an undefeated team would have earned the National Championship by beating two very good teams or there would be no undefeated teams left standing.  The best that you can do in some years.

Will it end controversy?  No.  If the Championship Committee is choosing between three 1-loss teams, there are going to be arguments.  But there are always arguments.  In a 4-team playoff, the 5th team is going to complain.  And so on.

What do you think?  What are some of the problems with this plan?

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