Find a True College Football Champion: Make the Regular Season a True Playoff

Nicholas PardiniCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2010

Teams like Boise State would not have to worry about "style points" or strength of schedule under the "playoff season" format
Teams like Boise State would not have to worry about "style points" or strength of schedule under the "playoff season" formatGeoff Burke/Getty Images

The BCS and college football's lack of a playoff are hotly contested issues in sports. Arguments usually come down to either preserving the current bowl system or tagging on an eight to sixteen team tournament after the regular season. Both sides admit that adding a playoff would diminish the value of the regular season.

University presidents argue that a tournament will add too many games to the schedule creating 15 or 16 game seasons for the national champions. However, what if you can create a system that allows every FBS school team a legitimate shot at a national title instead of relying on the opinions of pollsters. What if you can preserve the integrity of the regular season while adding a full playoff system?

My solution to reforming the crowning of the national champion is not add a postseason playoff to the regular season, but to make the regular season a playoff for the championship. Every conference game will matter as it losing will matter as each win directly leads to the advancement to the championship.

In this article I will explain the general format of the new season, and in the next four articles I will elaborate on how I suggest to realign the conferences and scheduling of the season to fit this new "playoff season" format along with a column on why this system is a drastic improvement over the BCS or any other proposed playoff.

The way that the "playoff season" system will work is that each team will play three out of region games to prepare for the conference season and get a higher position in consolation bowls (explained later). After these three out-of-league games, each team plays three games against the other members of their sub-regional pool.

This pool will be the first round of an 128-team (120 current FBS schools plus eight FCS call-ups for an even tournament number of 32 four-team pools) tournament that will make up the majority of the season.

Every team plays each other once and the two team with the most wins advance to the regional round (two pools per region). Tiebreakers are decided head to head. The losers of the first round will play in a losers bracket pool of that will include the bottom two teams of the opposite side of the region. 


Example Southern California Group:

USC, UCLA, Hawaii, San Diego State 

In the regional round, the top two finishers in each of the region's group play against each other in a pool.

However, in the second round only the top finisher advances out the pool to the divisional round which will also be the conference semi-finals. In this system, college football will consolidate into four conferences: Western (Pac 32), Midwestern (Big 32), the Southeast (SEC), and the Eastern Conference for northeastern and rust belt schools.

After the divisional round, there will be four conference championship games in December and they will replace upper tier non BCS bowl games. The Eastern Conference Championship game will be played in New York City, the Pac-32 title game will be the new Fiesta Bowl, the Big 32 title game will be the new Cotton Bowl game, and the SEC title game will be the new Sugar Bowl game.

The semifinals will be the Rose Bowl game (Eastern Conference vs. Pac 32) and the Orange Bowl (Big 32 vs. SEC) which will both be played on New Year's Day. The national title game and a third place game will be played a week later.

The three losers of the regional pools will play in a consolation bowl game similar to the late December bowl games in the current system. These matchups will be determined based on non conference profiles and performance in first two rounds. The loser bracket pool ends with the second round. As a result, bad teams only have nine game seasons.

For teams who lose in divisional round or further will also play in consolation bowl games which will take place along with the regional losers bowl games during the same time when current pre-New Year's Day bowl games are played.


Breakdown of Total Game Count for New "Playoff Season"

Three Non-Conference Games

Three Sub-Regional Pool Games

Three Regional Pool Games or Consolation Region

One Divisional Round or Consolation Bowl

One Conference Title Game or Consolation Bowl

Semifinal or Consolation Bowl

National Title Game or Third Place Game

Total: Nine to 13 games per season, with good teams playing more high-quality matchups per season. If college presidents want the season expanded, they could always have two teams advance out the region to create a round of 32. 

That is the introduction to the way I would restructure the college football season to combine the rivalries and urgency of the regular season of the BCS system with the legitimacy of the national champion created by a playoff. For more about how the realignment would work read future articles coming soon.

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