The BCS brass is meeting in Florida right now to discuss a 4 team “playoff”, which as I have previously explained does nothing in the long run.
Even with 8 teams, a really good one loss Texas or Alabama team might be shut out, and remember, the whole point is to generate excitement and money. Excluding a high profile team that’s really proven to be one of the best does neither.
With 16 teams, you start to get a lot of conference champions deserve an auto-bid arguments, which leaves you with two choices: deny a conference champion the chance to win the national championship, or you have the same problem as you do with 8 teams.
How about 25 teams?
The slots would all be determined by a committee, like the basketball and baseball tournaments. The 11 conference champions would get autobids, 14 at large bids go to the rest. Notre Dame, BYU and the service academies could receive one of the at large bids. Here’s the really fun part: any FCS team with an unbeaten record AND that has beaten TWO FBS schools must receive one of the autobids.
In addition, the conferences are ranked by the committee from 1 to 11. The champions of the top 4 conferences get the top 4 seeds in that order with an exception: if the team that wins the conference has a worse overall record AND the team with the better record has one or no losses AND is ranked higher, the team with the better overall record gets the top 4 seed. For example, TCU won the WAC, but Boise gets the WAC auto bid because they have the better overall record- and it’s 12-1 to 11-2 better, not 9-3 to 8-4 better, and Boise State was ranked higher. In this scenario, Boise gets the auto bid. This is not meant to snub TCU, but rather, it is meant to eliminate fluky situations where a 9-3 team gets the top 4 seed by winning the 4th best conference over a 11-1 team. It just comes out this way this time. TCU, as the conference champ, still gets an auto-bid, but much lower.
Under last year’s rankings with these guidelines, the seedings would be as follows (*= conference champ):
The last two teams in, #24 and #25, will meet in a play-in on the home field of #24. The winner of that will play at the home of the #9 seed, the 23 seed will play at the 10 seed, 22 vs. 11, 21 vs. 12 and so on. The winner of 9 vs. 24/25 will play at the number 8 seed, the 23/10 winner will play at the number 7 seed, 22/11 vs. 6, and so on. The quarterfinals will take place at each higher seed’s home field. The semifinals and the finals will be played in a neutral site- one of the five rotating Big Bowls. The first four you know- Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange. The fifth is the Cotton Bowl, which was once upon a time one of the highest ranked bowl games in prestige. Anybody remember any of those Cotton Bowl Classics? Tommy Lewis’s off the bench tackle? Billy Cannon’s punt return? Yeah, me neither. That’s because it’s been irrelevant for the last few decades. Time to restore it to greatness.
The reason the higher seeds would host the games is simple. Money. Well, that and attendance. Sure, Boise State’s 32,000 seat stadium is pretty small, and they definitely need to enlarge it for this playoff to happen, but even as it is, the game would attract more fans than if it were played in the Papajohns.com Bowl, which barely seats 40,000 (forgetting the fact that it always has trouble selling tickets) in a town that nobody wants to go to where there’s nothing to do. And Boise is the exception- every other team that would host a playoff game this year has a stadium with at least 54,000 seats. The home school would be paid handsomely to host this playoff game, rewarding its football program for earning it.
But that’s why the Final Four would be played at a neutral site- to ensure maximum fans in attendance as possible. Say Boise does make it. You can’t host a national semifinal with 32,000 fans in attendance. Triple that figure, and you’ve got your average ideal attendance for the semis and championship. So it’s that balance that keeps this playoff going.
The regular season would start the first Saturday of September or the last Saturday of August, depending on the dates. The regular season would conclude on Thanksgiving weekend, and the conference championship games would be played the following Saturday- the first of December.
The playoffs would start right around New Year’s Day, giving the players nearly a whole month- at least to focus on their exams. The play-in game would be a week earlier, so the student-athletes on those teams would have “only” three weeks. The round of 16 would be played a week later- usually the first Saturday of January, the round of 8 would be played the next Saturday, the semis would be played the following Saturday, and the championship would be 8 days later- the next Sunday, to give diehard football junkies something to watch on Sunday before the Super Bowl, especially without the Pro Bowl anymore. True, the NFL playoffs are on those two Saturdays, but come on, Saturday belongs to college football. Sunday is for the NFL. The NFL can either lose views to the college games or reorganize their TV times. Too bad for them.
As for the bowl games? They wouldn’t go anywhere. There would be ten postseason bowl games- Capital One, Outback, Chik-Fil-A, Gator, Independence, Liberty, Sun, Alamo, Fight Hunger and Holiday- and then the winners of each in order (Capital One vs. Outback, Chik-Fil-A vs. Gator, Independence vs. Liberty etc.) would play in one of the BCS Bowls- (in order) Orange, Fiesta, Sugar, Cotton and Rose, to legitimize the label BCS, which stands for Bowl Championship Series. Winning a simple bowl game doesn’t really make anybody champions of anything, despite the t-shirts that proclaim “GEORGIA BULLDOGS: 2010 LIBERTY BOWL CHAMPIONS” (Oops… they lost that game.To UCF. Sorry.) You get the point. To become champions, a team needs to win one of these “four team playoffs” that the BCS brass is proposing. Except, you know, with teams that don’t deserve a shot at a national title. These would be teams with records no better than 9-3, and usually worse.
The BCS bowls- Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange and Cotton- would pick the team they want most in a random order. It can be any team with 6 wins or more. Then they pick the team they want the second most, in reverse order. Then they pick the team they want third most, in the original order, and the team they want fourth most in reverse order. The first choice of each bowl will play the fourth choice, and the third choice will play the second choice in the play in bowl games. The winners would square off in one of the “Bowl Championship Series” games.
These games would be played during the week leading up to New Year’s Day, and some on the few days before Christmas. The BCS games would be played the week of January 2nd, at night.
Now, to get those dying rivalries back together.
If a BCS bowl game wants to ensure that they get a certain game or matchup, there’s a way to do that too. Say the Cotton Bowl wants to pit Texas and Texas A&M together in one of its play-in bowls, say the Alamo Bowl (obviously it would be better if they would both win their play-ins and both get to the Cotton Bowl, where there are many more fans, but if one of them loses, it won’t happen, so to ensure the fans get to see a Lone Star Showdown at all, this is how to do it). They would tell the other BCS bowl officials. If they agree that it is a must-see game, the Cotton Bowl would get to select both of them with their first two picks. Then everybody else would select their four teams in a similar fashion as normal (except with only four bowls, not five) order, and the Cotton Bowl would be left with the last two picks to form their other play-in game. To ensure that this doesn’t happen with each bowl game every year, each bowl is allowed to do this once every ten years- and only one bowl may do it per year. However, both teams must have 6 wins and not make the playoffs, so the chances of both teams a BCS Bowl wants having between 6 and 9/10 wins is minimal.
ESPN currently has the stranglehold on the BCS and all bowl games in general, so I’ll just assume that they would televise the playoffs too. There would be 8 games a day for the first two weeks, 4 in the round of 8, 2 in the semis, 1 in the final… can you imagine how much traffic ESPN would get? They would use all their networks for the first two rounds- ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ABC. ESPN Goal Line would be going nonstop. ESPN3 would have a remarkable amount of traffic, much like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Except, you know, without millions of dollars in lost productivity due to everybody skipping work to watch on their computers!
A big argument people might have against playoffs in general is that it diminishes the regular season. Let’s go back to 2010. Alabama jumped all over Auburn 24-0 in their annual blood fued. With a 25 team playoff, neither team had anything to play for, critics would argue. Alabama was ranked #11, Auburn #2. Auburn’s clinched home field through the Final Four, and Alabama can’t move up higher nor can they drop. Then Alabama goes up 24-0. Why should Auburn even try to come back? Why should Cam Newton even play?
There are about a million reasons why, and the BCS Cartel knows them all. Surely they’ve at least been briefed on the intensity of that rivalry. The biggest rivalry games are all played the last weekend of the season, so if seeds are locked up, it doesn’t matter. Undefeated Ohio State would play its backups against 4-7 Michigan the whole game. 10-1 USC would call running plays to kill the clock and end the game quicker against 6-5 UCLA. Unbeaten Florida would try out a new play-caller against 7-4 FSU, and FSU would play its backups the whole way.
So that line of thinking goes.
We with common sense know that none of this would ever happen in a billion years. Be ranked #1 on the last weekend of the season and lose to a mediocre team, and you risk dropping out of the top 4 conference champions to #5 overall where you would have to visit another school in the quarterfinals, instead of hosting the #8 seed in the quarters. The difference is glaring.
There’s only one possible scenario where a team would even consider tanking their final game- a team is undefeated and #1, and everybody else in the nation has at least two losses. This is about as likely to happen as Urban Meyer quitting Ohio State and kicking Will Muschamp out of office in Gainesville. Even if this situation did happen, it would take a coach who is willing to blow a huge rivalry game, with bragging rights and recruiting implications on the line.
The other thing it does to help the regular season is that it forces fans to follow the rest of the country. A 7-5 Big 10 team is facing a 12-0 team in the conference championship. There’s a 10-2 midmajor team hoping to gain access with an at large bid. If the 7-5 team wins, they get the auto bid while the 12-0 team would settle for an at large- and the 10-2 midmajor could get shut out. This playoff forces fans to follow games around the nation, especially in November, with the hopes that their fellow playoff hopefuls lose, allowing them to jump back in it.
Then there’s the excitement the playoff would generate.
Just take a look at the matchups. I have all the higher seeds winning, just to show what the matchups would look like. Tell me these matchups are not highly intriguing. Nebraska-Virginia Tech, Georgia-Michigan State, Michigan-TCU, Oklahoma-Houston, and Baylor-West Virginia highlight the opening round games. The less interesting ones include the winner of North Illinois and Louisiana Tech against South Carolina, Wisconsin-Arkansas State and Clemson-Southern Miss.
See? Those are the opening round games. Are they not really intriguing for even casual football fans? Does Case Keenum vs. Landry Jones not turn on fans who love an offensive fireworks show? How about Nebraska’s defense, led by Jared Crick and Alfonzo Dennard vs. Virginia Tech’s offense, featuring Logan Thomas and David Wilson? And who would dare pass up any chance to watch RG3 square off against any BCS school?
The second round match ups are simply orgasmic. Boise State, as the 4th best conference champ with a first round bye, would face the winner of Michigan and TCU. Think: a Big 10 national powerhouse (probably) going on the blue turf to play the Broncos. Alabama, with the #5 overall seed, also has a bye, and would face the winner of Baylor-West Virginia. Even if WVU wins, it’s still exciting to watch Geno Smith go up against that Bama defense. How about if Baylor wins? That might get the most views of any sporting event ever: Robert Griffin III, Kendall Wright and co. vs. Dont’a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Robert Lester and co. How could anybody NOT watch that? The others are nearly as good: (pretending the higher seeds all win) Oklahoma at Stanford, Wisconsin at Oregon, South Carolina at Kansas State, Virginia Tech at Arkansas, Georgia at Oklahoma State and the Death Valley Tiger Bowl: Clemson at LSU.
Then we get to the quarters. If all the high seeds win, Oregon would visit Oklahoma State, Alabama would visit Boise State, Kansas State would pay a visit to LSU, and Arkansas would go to Stanford.
The Final Four (again, if the high seeds win): LSU vs. Boise State, and Oklahoma State vs. Stanford, and so on.
Please, tell me that those match ups are anything short of ridiculously exciting.
So to recap the plan: the schools get more money from happier fans, the players still have almost a month to take their exams, higher seeds are rewarded, the regular season and conference championship games are increased in value, and most importantly, we get a real method of determining a champion.
Unlike the current system.
Anybody know how the BCS standings are done? If not, it goes like this: the Harris Poll, the USA Today and the computer rankings are averaged together.
Anybody know how flawed both the human polls and the computer polls are?
Here’s a hint: following the 2008 season, three voters were called and asked why they didn’t vote Utah in the top 2. The response? The three men watched a combined 5 minutes of Utah football the whole year- all highlights. The computers are not allowed to use margin of victory, so a 59-3 win means nothing more than a 21-20 win. If margin of victory (maxed out at 35, to prevent teams from running it up for no other reason) was included, it would have been Texas going to the Big 12 Championship in 2008, not Oklahoma.
Did Texas and Utah both not deserve a chance to prove themselves to be the best in the nation? What more could they have done? Utah was unbeaten, and Texas’ only loss was a freak play on the road against Texas Tech. OK, Texas could have won that game, but then Florida lost to Ole Miss and they got in to the title game.
This is a huge GATOR FAN saying this: following the 2008 regular season, following the conference championship games, what did Florida do that was so impressive that Texas, Utah, Texas Tech, and hell, even Alabama didn’t do? We saw what happened in the 2012 BCS Championship: Alabama avenged a previous loss to LSU. So because Florida beat Alabama once, that automatically means Alabama wouldn’t have won in a rematch? Because Oklahoma won some freaky tiebreaker in the Big 12 South, Texas and Texas Tech couldn’t have won head to head matchups with them in a playoff?
And by the way, if the BCS wants to keep the BCS and the bowls the way they are, they might really want to reconsider. Without a playoff, what did Texas Tech have to play for in the Cotton Bowl? What did it mean? Nothing; they got thumped by a 9-4 Ole Miss team. Before you start chanting SEC!!! SEC!!! SEC!!! you might want to take a second to remember that Alabama had the same problem against Utah, and looked suspiciously inept all night.
And these are just the most prestigious bowl games.
At least the Sugar and Cotton Bowls were filled for these games. Not so lucky are the Papajohns.com Bowl, the Belk Bowl, the GoDaddy Bowl or the Car Care Bowl. No, those games are so unattractive that the school can’t even sell their share of tickets. As a result, they all lose: the bowl games lose because they have thousands of empty seats, the schools lose because they were forced by the bowl games to buy thousands of tickets and can’t sell them to their students or alumni because the game is pointless and therefore lose lots of money and the fans lose because, well, who gives a (fill in the blank) about who wins pre-New Year’s Day bowls?
Without a playoff, the bowl games the Cartel so desperately wants to protect are worthless. Mississippi and Utah were not upsets; they simply beat teams that couldn’t have cared less about being there.
Now to refute some quotes from the BCS.
“Having carefully reviewed calendars and schedules, we believe that either an eight-team or a 16-team playoff would diminish the regular season and harm the bowls,” the BCS said in a statement. Obviously, they haven’t done any real thinking because if this 25 team playoff doesn’t hurt the regular season, (it actually strengthens it) then 8 or 16 team playoffs surely wouldn’t. As I’ve explained, tanking a regular season finale kills a team’s seeding, recruiting, and bragging rights over a rival. Nice try.
I have uploaded a chart onto the facebook group of what last season’s postseason would have looked like.