To start things off, I am an Ohio State fan, and probably have less to gain from a Football Tournament than anyone.
However, after watching the insane upsets week after week in the 2007 season, I think it is difficult to justify the BCS format. By definition, with so many "upsets", doesn't this mean that maybe the rankings were wrong?
I personally didn't want Ohio State to get to the title game, as I felt that they would be better prepared for this year by playing in another Bowl Game, and not having to deal with all the criticism that they are now receiving.
As such, I am presenting my own format for a possible playoff format. It is somewhat controversial, and I am sure that plenty of people will take issue with some aspects of it; however, I also feel that it provides the best measure for determining a champion, and that it is also a giant step forward for the sport.
The entire concept is based around the conferences and their highest ranked teams representing that conference in the NCAA tournament. As such, we would need to streamline the conferences to fit this idea. With 120 Division One Schools, we would be able to have 10 Conferences with 12 teams each. Currently, College Football has the following conference alignments:
ACC: 12 Teams
Big 12: 12 Teams
Big 10: 11 Teams
Big East: 8 Teams
Conference USA: 12 Teams
MAC: 13 Teams
Mountain West: 9 Teams
PAC 10: 10 Teams
SEC: 12 Teams
Sun Belt: 8 Teams
WAC: 9 Teams
Independents: 4 Teams
Under my proposition, the schools that are independent (Notre Dame, Navy, Army, Western Kentucky) and the Sun Belt Schools (Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Monroe, Middle Tennessee, North Texas and Troy) would be redistributed among the Big 10, Big East, Mountain West, PAC 10 and WAC, so that we will now be left with 10 conferences of 12 Schools.
I understand that on a strictly geographical level, this redistribution would be difficult; however I’m sure that other conferences could juggle Schools to some extent to achieve the desired end result.
As a result of the conference realignment, we are now in a position to properly seed the NCAA football Tournaments. The Premier Tournament "The Tournament of Champions" will consist of 16 Teams, the top two teams from each of the "BCS conferences" (ACC, Big 12, Big 10, Big East, Pac 10 and SEC) and the Conference Champion from the remaining four conferences. (C-USA, MAC, WAC, Mountain West).
The Teams will need to be seeded, and I recommend this be done by conference affiliation, so that teams from the same conference will not play each other until the Final.
Under this scenario, the 2007 tournament could have looked something like this, with the winner of each match up in brackets:
LSU vs Central Michigan (LSU)
Oklahoma vs UCF (Oklahoma)
USC vs Connecticut (USC)
Virginia Tech vs Illinois (Virginia Tech)
BYU vs Tennessee (Tennessee)
Hawaii vs Arizona State (Hawaii)
Ohio State vs Kansas (Ohio State)
West Virginia vs Boston College (West Virginia)
LSU vs Virginia Tech (LSU) [Quarter Finals]
Oklahoma vs USC (USC) [Quarter Finals]
Ohio State vs Hawaii (Ohio State) [Quarter Finals]
West Virginal vs Tennessee (West Virginia) [Quarter Finals]
Central Michigan vs UCF (UCF)
Connecticut vs Illinois (Illinois)
BYU vs Arizona State (Arizona State)
Kansas vs Boston College (Kansas)
LSU vs USC (LSU) [Semi Finals]
Ohio State vs West Virginia (Ohio State) [Semi Finals]
Virginia Tech vs Oklahoma (Oklahoma)
Hawaii vs Tennessee (Tennessee)
UCF vs Illinois (Illinois)
Arizona State vs Kansas (Kansas)
Central Michigan vs Connecticut (Connecticut)
BYU vs Boston College (Boston College)
LSU vs Ohio State (Ohio State) For 1st Place
USC vs West Virginia (USC) For 3rd Place
Oklahoma vs Tennessee (Oklahoma) For 5th Place
Virginia Tech vs Hawaii (Virginia Tech) for 7th Place
Kansas vs Illinois (Kansas) for 9th Place
UCF vs Arizona State (Arizona State) for 11th Place
Connecticut vs Boston College (Boston College) for 13th Place
BYU vs Central Michigan (for 15th Place)
Obviously the above scenario is simply an outline, with rough predictions (e.g. Ohio State over LSU, Just Kidding.) However, there is potential for some blockbuster match ups throughout the tournament.The second aspect of the tournament is the playoffs for lower rankings. The teams that lost throughout the tournament would still play for rankings, to ensure we knew who was ranked 1-16 by the end of the tournament.
Note: I know that there is no way that there are four non BCS teams in the top 16 schools in the nation, however, in place of the bowl system, I feel that this is the most appropriate manner to qualify for the tournament.The follow up to this System is that we will be left with 104 teams that do not qualify for the post-season. The counter to this is to simply add 3 other 16 team tournaments.
The seeding for such tournaments is more difficult than for the NCAA Tournament of Champions, however I am confident that the Committee for each tournament will be able to do so in an agreeable manner. We now have 4 tournaments (Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta, rotating each year) featuring 16 teams each, which will rank the top 64 Teams in the nation.
One of the main objections to a football tournament is that it will take too much time away from classes or will result in too many games being played. To combat this eventuality, we have shortened the regular season to 10 games, followed by 4 postseason games.
The Regular Season:
As explained above, there will now be 10 Conferences with 12 Teams in each. The SEC is probably the best example to use as it's method for determining the conference champion is similar to the one we are recommending. Each conference will be split into two Regions of 6 Teams. Each year, every team will play the five teams in their Region and three teams from the opposite region. This will result in the need for only two Non-Conference Games, which will not count towards the final standings, which has the added benefit of encouraging more competitive non-conference games, and also reducing the number of meaningless blowouts that we see every September.
Following this outline, the two teams that would have represented the SEC in 2007 are LSU (As Conference Champion) and Tennessee (as Conference Runner Up.) The seedings for the second, third and fourth tournaments will be based on final conference standings, for example, Michigan and Wisconsin would have represented the Big Ten in the Second Tournament in 2007.
Locations would be difficult to organize, however in the case of the first two rounds; conference champions would receive a home ground advantage. The major games of the tournament, Semi Finals and Grand Final would all be held in the same city. This would have the benefit of one location hosting three games over two weekends, with four teams’ fans descending on the city.
Well, I think that’s about all have to say on the subject, I know I have missed some points, and that there are certainly weaknesses in my system. However, I feel that the format outlined above does try to address most of the concerns that different parties have about the current football competition. There is the retention of the important regular season; the postseason is actually expanded, with the potential to host games in several new sites, while also retaining as many elements of the old bowl system as possible. However at the end of the day, the NCAA football champions will be crowned beyond a doubt, and there will be an increased opportunity to watch outstanding football matches, as opposed to some of the mediocre bowl games that are inevitably organized each year.
I hope that this article generates some discussion, and hopefully we can have some version of a playoff in college football in the future, while I know that the tradition and history of the game is crucial, I think that a compromise can be struck whereby the final product can be improved.