Around this time last year, when the BCS was under scrutiny for another series of controversial bowl matchups, I offered an alternative solution to determining college football's national championship.
One year later, I still think this proposal has potential.
Last year, I opened my article by saying:
"The BCS chaos of the last few years has resulted in many an uproar among the die-hard fans of college football. Cries for a playoff can be heard all the way from Los Angeles (when it's convenient for Pete Carroll) to Athens, GA. One could talk to any true fan of college football from anywhere in the nation and get a wide variety of playoff-style solutions. Some call for an eight-team format (thank you Mr. President-Elect), while others favor a 12- or 16-team bracket. Nevertheless, followers of the game are fed up with what many tag as the 'Mock' National Championship set up by the Bowl Championship Series. Something must be done. Even with the national outcry, commissioners and presidents continue to hide behind a wall of excuses—classes, exams, travel, etc. And while they won't publicly admit it, it is globally known that the precious greenback is the root of all of the fuss."
Many of the same sentiments and attitudes ring true today—just subsitute Los Angeles and Athens with Fort Worth and Cincinatti.
With that in mind, I (again) offer you, the fans and the figureheads, an alternative championship solution for college football.
May I present: The Bowl Championship Conference (Version 2.0). (Additions to the original proposal have been added in italics .)
Here's how it works.
* First, pre-scheduled non-conference games are eliminated (I know, I know. Just hang on—I'll get to that.). Each team in the FBS opens their season with conference play. A total of 10 weeks are set aside for each conference to complete its regular season. These 10 weeks would ensure every team at least one bye week. It would also allow the SEC, Big 12, ACC, CUSA, and MAC the opportunity to play their full regular season schedules, as well as their championship games. It ensures the Pac-10 its full round robin. It even gives the Big Ten the option of adding a ninth game to its regular season schedule.
* The current BCS formula would be released after week six (rather than the eighth week as it is currently). Following the completion of conference play, a committee (very similar to that used in the basketball and baseball tournaments) will seed the six BCS conference champions and four at-large teams (a total of 10, which is equal to the current BCS allotment) into two five-team divisions of the Bowl Championship Conference.
Criteria for this selection process would include BCS ranking, AP ranking, geographic considerations, and strength of schedule. The same rules regarding non-BCS schools would apply, as well as the stipulation that no more than two teams from a single conference would be allowed. Additionally, if a conference sends more than one team, those teams must be placed in separate divisions.
* The next five weeks of the regular season are set aside for BCC play (more on the rest of the schools later). Each division plays a full round robin schedule, with each team playing two home games and two road games (determined by the committee). One team per division, per week, would have a bye.
* The National Championship would pair the two division winners. The other four BCS bowls would match teams across the divisions to fill out the rest of the BCS bowl lineup. Tiebreaking rules for each division are as follows: 1. Head-to-head 2. Point differential in BCC games.
In this system, the strong emphasis on conference play is upheld. The quality of football in November and December would be incredible. It would also allow for a same-conference National Championship, but it would be determined on the field. The television rights for something like this would be astronomical—one network would pick up one division, another network the other division, and a third the bowl games. Money could not be an excuse. The bowl system would remain intact (more on this later). The regular season would not be extended. Above all, the championship would be settled on the field.
What about the other 109 teams?
Good question. Currently there are 33 bowls. That means 66 teams go bowling every year—that's more than half of the teams in college football. Under this system, the number of bowls would be reduced to 29—the five BCS bowls and 24 others. A placement committee will then assign the remaining 109 teams to one of four pools.
The remaining 24 non-BCC bowls would drop their conference tie-ins, and, instead, be classified into one of three tiers.
Pool A A 16-team pool is selected from the remaining top teams in the BCS standings. Teams play two home and two away from within the pool. During bowl season, the top eight non-BCC bowls (which are now identified as Tier I Bowls ) select teams from Pool A to fill their bowl slots. They have the option of keeping traditional tie-ins, but don't necessarily have to. Tier I Bowls could include but are not necessarily limited to the Cotton Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Gator Bowl, Alamo Bowl, Sun Bowl, etc.
Pool B This pool is similar to Pool A but with lesser-quality opponents. The remaining BCS-ranked teams, as well as other at-large teams, are pooled together. Teams play two home and two away games within the pool. During bowl season, the middle eight non-BCS bowls (now identified as Tier II Bowls ), select teams from Pool B to fill their bowl slots.
Pool C Sixteen more at-large teams are selected. Teams play two home and two away games within the pool. During bowl season, the lower eight, non-BCS bowls (now identified as Tier III Bowls ) select teams from Pool C to fill their bowl slots.
* Teams must have at least a .500 record in conference play to be eligible for Pools A-C.
Pool D The remaining teams are placed in Pool D. Teams play two home and two away games within the pool. These teams are not eligible for bowl games.
A few questions that need to be addressed:
What About Out-of-Conference Rivals?
Good question. Unfortunately, that is one of the fallbacks with this proposed solution. However, while some of those rivalries might not be renewed on a yearly basis, it is something that the committee could take into consideration when pairing up pool play. Also, they way this system is set up, those rivalries could take place in the bowls —perhaps adding an additional element to the rivalry.
How Do the Small Programs Stay Afloat Without the Out-of-Conference Matchups that Generally Pay Big Bucks?
The way the pool play is set up, every conference champion is ensured a berth into one of the bowl pools which ensures some bowl revenue. In addition, within pool play, house gate revenue would be shared with the visiting teams. Also, pool play could possibily require a big-name program that might be having a down year to travel to one of those smaller venues thereby giving those insitutions a chance to sell out their stadiums and make more revenue. The bigger schools might lose money in a game like that, but that only acts as incentive to play, coach, and recruit for a higher pool placement.
Major benefits of this solution:
* There is a national champion that is crowned on the field.
* More compelling out-of-conference games.
* The integrity of the bowl system is upheld.
* Because the solution still uses the bowl system, the headache of travel expenses for multiple playoff games is eliminated
* The season does not need to be extended in any fashion.
Whether this is a better solution is arguable. However, it is another solution to a problem that has many solutions. And the one thing most college football fans can agree with is that the current solution isn't working.