How Could We Make an FBS College Football Playoff Like the FCS?
College football is less than 80 days away from starting up again, but that still leaves us left with a few debates and arguments.
Thinking outside the box and looking at a future playoff system, how could we make an FBS college football playoff system identical to the FCS?
Some might be throwing their computers out the window right now, whereas others may be happy that there is finally some talk of a larger playoff.
Still, avoiding the plus-one or final four playoff formula, let us take a quick look at how exactly we could make a 20-team playoff format and what sort of an impact it would have in the FBS of college football.
Note: This is if we were to literally use the FCS playoff format system, but feel free to throw out any other suggestions if we had to choose a 20-team playoff system
Get Silly, Shorten Regular Season
The reason why college football is the best sport on the planet is because the regular season means everything. Every weekend there are glaring upsets, and the pageantry shared is nothing short of a thrill of a lifetime.
There is no way we can extend the season to more than 15 games, so the only legitimate option is to shorten the regular season by at least two games (that is, if we used this playoff format).
Instead of ending the season on the first weekend in December, we would likely have to end it no later than the week before Thanksgiving weekend.
Find Creative Ways to Make Regular Season Important Still
We cannot diminish the best part of the best sport .
Making the regular season important still is obvious and we cannot just throw everything out the door. How many games should we cut the season down to?
It could be catastrophic if we were to take away the greatest moments that we witness during the regular season because college football should not go from the most exciting sport to follow to just a middle of the road sport all for the sake of a playoff system.
It is imperative to keep your main rivalries and to still come with the entertaining BCS rankings. However, it might be best to only have a top 20 since that would be your playoff format.
It would be entertaining to follow and the fans would perhaps fall in love with it all.
Make Sure Tournament Ends Week After New Year’s
Nothing would be worse in my eyes than extending the season to the end of January. Maybe it sounds interesting, but the season needs to be finished up, at the latest, a week after New Year’s.
If we use the FCS playoff system, which I will get into, then we just need to make sure it doesn’t last any longer than the current system we use at the moment.
Injuries and the concern for our players should still be the biggest concern, and we do not want to risk anything to that nature.
Take Away Rivalry Games
This seems like a cardinal sin, and I would never personally do this if in charge of the sport. But some rivalry games might have to be taken away from the lovely sport.
They better keep their top non-conference rivalries and obviously keep their in-state conference rivalries, but there may not be any choice but to take away a few rivalry games to assure yourself of having a playoff system similar to the FCS.
Take Away Non-Conference
Similar to your typical rivalry games (since they are more often than not your non-conference games) you arguably have to take away at least two of you non-conference matchups from the regular season.
This hurts your sport a tad, but if it is what helps you get this playoff bracket going, then that should not be considered a huge loss.
Limit Conference Slate
This one would be intriguing because the best time of college football is once October rolls along.
The conference schedule games are amazing to watch, but a playoff would arguably give you just as many exciting moments.
The bottom line is something has to give. If you don’t take away at least two non-conference games, then instead of an eight-game schedule for conference games, perhaps you would cut it down to six games instead.
Heisman Race Would Change Forever
What on earth would happen to your Heisman race?
If your season ends in the middle of November, then we would be looking at either giving away the Heisman to a player that has played just 10 games or perhaps give out the award in January.
That is, of course, if we even allow the Heisman to be extended throughout this dream playoff scenario that the FCS has.
If this season gets shortened, then we could potentially reward the Heisman after all of these playoff matchups (like previously mentioned).
Many would be against that theory, although the excitement level should be raised quite a bit if the expected candidates on great teams are still around in the playoff tournament.
We are accustomed to announcing it on the second Saturday in December, but if you did this playoff like the FCS, things would change, that is for certain.
Give Non-BCS a Shot
This would certainly upset many fans, but it would please all of the ones that desperately asked for a playoff.
Some argue that 16 teams are more than enough, and it is a solid debate that would be talked about if, let’s say, this entire plus-one (or final four, I should say) were to get completely tossed out the door.
Those four play-in games that we see in the FCS would draw some controversy more than likely, but it could also perhaps feature your four best non-BCS squads.
We always witness the elite BCS squads in the New Year’s Day bowls always featuring the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12.
What better way to celebrate your playoff system than to give a chance to the top smaller schools that are not in the BCS?
Obviously, there would have to a specific ranking in order to get this opportunity, such as a top 20 or 25 ranking. If you happened to not be ranked, then this theory would have to be thrown out the door as well.
Extend the Postseason Until Middle of January
Are you going to have a heavyweight battle every single weekend?
The bowl games are a pleasure to watch because these teams get some time to recuperate from the grind of an absolutely brutal regular season.
If you have a matchup every weekend, there could be devastating or nagging injuries that do not allow the best players to take the field in the most critical of matchups. Therefore, a few bye weeks would be mandatory.
Get a Real Committee
Bobby Bowden has stated he would like to be a part of a future committee to decide these games. These people have to be willing to watch every single game imaginable.
Hell, if I can watch every game there is known to man on the television set during the week, I am sure we can find others who love nothing more than to catch every game.
Rank Them by Seeding
We must rank them from the top team all the way to the bottom team. Regardless of how many teams we have, there needs to be a seeding that is done as accurately as possible.
Every week of the season, there is a ton of fluidity, and that is why the sport is amazing to follow; however, it is not that hard to rank these teams.
If Not, Then Have a Selection Process
Selection Sunday during the NCAA basketball tournament is one of the best sports days of the year simply because we get to drool over the potential matchups.
Then we get to pretend as if we know what exactly will happen as the tournament progresses.
Ultimately, we shred apart our brackets, but it is that day of filling out your bracket that makes you want to watch every single game on the bracket (or maybe that is just me).
If we used the FCS playoff format, then a selection committee would have to take part of this like I listed in previous slides.
Obviously, selling your tournament would have to be taken up a few notches since it is vital to draw the mega ratings.
A playoff is never successful unless you can promote it with near perfection. Having an identical playoff format to the FCS only means that you better decide which network owns the rights to all of the televised games.
The obvious answer is the ESPN family of networks, but shouldn’t every game be on ABC/ESPN?
If a few games were to go on ESPNU or even ESPN2, that could hurt a bit in the ratings.
After so many fans have complained about the BCS with the hopes of having a playoff system, I get the feeling that we would not struggle to find the fans to watch the most important games of the season.
For the first- and second-round games, the committee would have to decide on whether or not to use home-field advantage.
Do they use neutral sites along the way for the entire tournament or wait to do that in the final four?
These are decisions that need to be taken care of, and they are never easy to decide on. But I would personally just use the neutral sites for the entire tournament.
There would be no complaints from the teams, although I would have no issues with playing the first two rounds (including play-in games) at home stadiums.
Ultimately, the final four needs to be played at neutral sites (Glendale, New Orleans, Pasadena), and there shouldn’t be any complaints over that decision.
Weekday Night Games
Would this work out like the NCAA basketball tournament?
Should there be Thursday and Friday night games on top of Saturday games?
Perhaps they would include Sundays, though most would never see that working (they can’t with NFL).
The best decision is arguably using two or three weekday nights on top of Saturdays, so it would be spread out.
I would not want to watch two games at once for every four-hour time slot on a Saturday. These are the biggest games of the season, so they would have to make sure everybody could actually watch them, unlike the NCAA tournament.
If we started this playoff either on the weekend before, after or during Thanksgiving weekend, it technically would be over before New Year’s.
My goal would be to start the play-in games on Thanksgiving weekend then take a bye week before the tournament officially gets underway (use 20-team playoff system, so it's down to 16 teams).
After your round of 16 gets down to eight teams, your final four would be aimed right for New Year’s, assuming you took another week off after every round. Having a national semi or the final four games on New Year’s Eve and/or New Year’s Day would once again be thrilling.
Certainly, we would be taking out the prestigious Rose Bowl if we were to use the same format as the one the FCS uses, but a final four game (or two) played in Pasadena would make up for all that would be lost.
Decide Who Makes Top 20 Without Any Questions
This is a part of setting up a committee, but the committee members would need to make it obvious that they are getting the top 20 teams, and it should not matter if they are all from a few conferences or not.
Ranking the top 20 is not an easy task, but following every team in the FBS is a must.
Also, assuming your committee does nothing on Saturdays but watch all the games, there should not be much of an issue.
No Dumb Stipulations
Not only is it imperative to have a top 20 for teams, but every team should not have to tally at least nine victories or something silly like that.
Many SEC teams every season go 8-4, and they are an obvious group of choices for the top 20 squads. We want the best team possible, and we should have to reach for this vital tournament.
If there is a third- or fourth-place ACC team that is 9-3 and it is obvious that the fourth- or fifth-best team in the SEC is better, then the right decision needs to be made.
Note: Such as the when the BCS formula ends and we go to a potential final four, anything but the top four would be crazy. Imagine having the No. 2 or No. 3 team in the country (say, from the SEC) out of the final four because we get silly and just have conference winners
20 Team Playoff Bracket Experiment
If we followed what the FCS did with its 20-team bracket, there would be excitement since it would be something brand new for the FBS.
However, the No. 21 and No. 22 teams would absolutely despise this playoff bracket for all of eternity.
Plus, 20 teams would be a joke since half of those teams would arguably get destroyed once they make it to the second round (they have a few play-in games exactly like FCS system).
Remember how good Georgia was last season record-wise? Well, when they played LSU in the SEC title, they were obliterated in the second half. I wouldn’t want to see that in a pivotal matchup in this playoff bracket.
It not only would hurt the ratings for people who actually want a good game, but it would be bad for the sport as well.
Final Layout (Using 2012 Dates)
Four Play-In Games: Sat., Nov. 24
First Round: Thu, Fri and Sat., Nov. 29-Dec. 1
Elite 8: Sat., Dec. 15
Final Four: Sat., Dec. 31 and Sun., Jan. 1
Title Game, Mon. Jan 14