Regardless of the outcome of the Florida vs. Alabama and Texas vs. Nebraska match ups today, we will have another BCS title game that does not satisfy. With three teams other than the Gators, Tide and Longhorns undefeated as of this writing, that game will only be a playoff of undefeated teams we thought would be good back in August. Cinncinati, TCU and Boise State will have to join the list of teams wondering what might have been. And Texas (with their pourous defense), Florida (with their relatively inconsistent offense) and Alabama (with their choking defense and vanilla but effective offense) won't have to try and win the crown by scheming to stop the Bearcats, Horned Frogs or Broncos.
So, being a proponent of a playoff system, I wondered what might have been. If we were to start an actual 16 team playoff, similar to the Football Championshop Subdivision, where higher ranked teams play home games in the first two rounds. Using the top 16 teams in the current BCS standings, we end up with a pretty compelling tournament. If started today, here's what it would look like.
Saturday December 13th
16 Oregon State at 1 Florida (great offense vs great defense)
15 Pittsburg at 2 Alabama
14 BYU at Texas (Best defense Mccoy would have seen all year)
13 LSU at 4 TCU (a great match up)
12 Virginia Tech at 5 Cincinnati (take the over)
11 Penn State at 6 Boise State (home team in a romp)
10 Georgia Tech at 7 Oregon (a playoff at Autzen? Timeless)
9 Iowa at 8 Ohio State (the only unfortunate matchup)
In four brackets, you have home games for two rounds that could be played in snow or rain or whatever. Plus, like the NCAA basketball tournament, you will have memorable upsets that no one saw coming. Oregon State could beat Florida right now. They are playing very well, are a solid team and would have a punchers chance especially in a shoot out.
All of these games would make rediculous money for eight different local economies not just six bowl sites. The television revenues for this would dwarf the current six major bowls. Schools and conferences would still make their money.
Round two would be on December 20 with the semi finals held on December 27th. The Championship could be either on January 1st, 3rd or 10th (if you want to give two weeks before the final).
This doesn't hurt the students, ask the FBS. This doesn't extend the season. The bowl season ends around that time now. This doesn't kill or make less relavent the regular season. The top sixteen would get in. How you pick the top sixteen can be worked out (again, ask NCAA basketball) and there would invariably be controversy there. But we have controversy picking the top two now.
The potential second round match ups are even more compelling. The Buckeyes and Iowa fight again but this time to see who gets to line up, potentially, with Florida. An Oregon v TCU match would tire out the scoreboard. Boise State going into Alabama is the last thing the Tide want to see. And Cincinnati lighting up Texas (which they would) would be fun to watch. So yes, I am predicting a final four of Florida, TCU/Oregon (pick 'em on that one) and Boise State squaring off against Cincinnati. Conventional wisdom would be damned, or renderred inrrelevent by on field play. My picks may sound crazy, but not that crazy.
All of the arguments for keeping the current system are easy to counter or have been used before to defend the old system. The "integrity of the bowls" is a joke. The six major bowls, and especially the Rose Bowl, are the ones driving this. It is their money that is being protected by this system.
In a year where there is no clear Heisman winner, there is also no team that is head and shoulders above the rest. Picking two of these top six to play in a championship game without a playoff is rediculous. Once again, we won't have a playoff and the sports world will laud the "Champion" be it Florida, Texas or Alabama. All three are very good, if not great, teams. However, without a true playoff, they will be only the best of the most popular and not a true champion.