MWC Proposal Would Set College Football On Proper Playoff Path

Rodd CaytonCorrespondent IMarch 6, 2009

Mountain West Conference officials, fed up with seeing the leagues unbeaten champion shut of of national championship consideration twice in five seasons, have unveiled a plan for an eight-team playoff tournament that would produce a "real" national champion.

I applaud the effort. It's a start.

While anything would be an improvement over the current Bowl Championship Series, the Mountain West proposal isn't the ideal.

The proposal calls for the use of existing bowls as sites for the playoff games.

I'd accept that as a way station toward the ideal format, but can you imagine the logistics of planning trips from Corvallis, OR to New Orleans and Greater Phoenix in successive weeks? The latter trip would be planned in less than a week.

But imagine getting from Dodge City, KS to Miami, with a whole year to plan the trip.

Meet your Rose Bowl, college football's equivalent of the Super Bowl.

The winners of the national semifinals should play every year in Pasadena, after the parade, but still with a kickoff in broad daylight.

Those semifinals and any other playoff games, should be at the home field of the higher-seeded team. Now, I've got no problem with a Wisconsin-Auburn quarterfinal game being moved to Glendale, AZ and being called the Fiesta Bowl, but I'm opposed to that as the default arrangement.

My feeling is that the home team wouldn't have a problem selling out a playoff game. These bowl-located playoff games would soon struggle, and rather than try to squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube, the NCAA would see things my way.

As far as rotating the championship game: let's not do that. Pasadena should be, like Omaha, Chattanooga, Florence, AL and Salem, VA a permanent site.

The Mountain West proposal, like many other hypothetical "dream" playoff setups, calls for a field of eight teams. I guess the reasoning is one bid for the champion of each big-money conference, plus two at-large berths.

Problem is, such a system would have left out unbeaten Utah or unbeaten Boise State this past season, plus a one-loss Alabama, Texas, or Texas Tech. 

Eight ain't enough. The magic number is 18. That get's some not-so-big-money schools some national TV exposure during the play-in games, and gets the top teams rest.

Let's not hear how this would make the season longer. There are high school teams playing 16 games. Oh, yeah, and they play on weekends.

To make it work, the regular season start would have to be moved to Aug. 15. That's enough time for 12 regular-season games, one bye (two for leagues with no championship game) and a play-in weekend, and a Jan 1. Rose Bowl.

I know some of you are thinking "who wants to play in Athens on Aug. 15?"

The answer is "no one."

I've got a remedy for that: Let Southeastern Conference teams actually play some nonleague road games.

Sure, there are a lot of people laughing at the Mountain West's board of directors for making such a bold proposal, considering that the establishment in college football has shown little desire to move away from what keeps it fat and happy.

But it's a start.