College Football Playoffs: How to Keep Both BCS and Non-BCS Teams Happy

Phil CaldwellCorrespondent IIIDecember 3, 2010

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 20:  Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes talks with teammates in the huddle during the play against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Ohio State won 20-17 over Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
David Purdy/Getty Images

This week there’s a boat load of ideas about college playoffs circulating, most that gives fans about as much confidence as a doctor is promising “very little pain” from his patented non-scalpel vasectomy procedure.

And yet when we’re subjected to Ohio State’s pompous president lecturing about how his school’s football team is more worthy than is a then-undefeated Boise State, it would be just lovely if we could settle this like men. On a field, preferably not a blue one!

Two days ago I listed six proposals for a college playoff system, and I suggested the only real solution  is to do away with conferences and regular-season games after Thanksgiving.  Because conferences have thus far always opposed playoff proposals, and the month of December is currently a wasteland of bad bowl games between bad teams.

I suggested eight separate regions hold their own mini-tournaments in December, with the winner advancing to one of eight spots to four bowls played on New Year’s Day.  Quarterfinals, with winners playing the next week in semi-finals.

That idea brings up a number of issues, least of which is how to keep non-BCS sanctioned conferences from being under-represented like they are with today’s screwed-up system.

But it would provide good solid football teams for bowls currently featuring 6-6 teams. If each region started with four ranked top 25 teams, second-tier bowls would actually serve a purpose. Unlike what they do now.

Many ideas abound, including one that had regions playing with independent rules. Like they do with high school playoffs in some states, where one district might select teams using an entirely different structure than another district.

Since the fundamental goal is to present a team to the upper brackets worthy of being there, the theory is that each region would be responsible for making critical decisions based on that particular year.

For example, this year in the Southeast, there are six teams that could probably claim they deserve a shot. Meanwhile in the Northeast, there’s a total of zero teams that deserve a shot, unless they have some stud high school teams that I don’t know about.

Which brings up another possible solution:  In college basketball, the NCAA routinely seeds teams from Eastern regions into Western brackets, based on their records and strengths of schedule. As if to “punish” teams with great records but weak schedules, teams are placed against more difficult teams in lower rounds.

With football, obviously we’re not talking about brackets.  But let’s use Boise State and Nevada this year, as an example. 

The Northwest region would probably have Boise State facing Oregon for the right to play in a New Year’s Day Bowl quarterfinal. But what about Nevada, who just knocked off Boise State?  Wouldn’t Nevada deserve a placement somewhere based on that one game, since they only have one loss?

And would Nevada play in the southeast, the northwest, or one of the mid west regions?

All excellent questions, but this is where the flex rule idea might come into play.

Nevada might travel to another region with less worthy teams, to make that region credible. Say for example, the NE region has no teams that deserve to play in a college playoff.

So the “committee” (I would suggest the committee be made of me and my friends while drinking large amounts of Captain Morgan) decides to relocate a team like Michigan State to the Northeast region.

Since Michigan State appears to be the odd man out in the mid-west., and since we’re not seeing any teams from the New York & Boston area that deserve to be in a final 16 tournament, Michigan State faces off against a team like Nevada.

Or the better idea would be to make adjustments to bordering regions, so instead of shipping Nevada off to the Northeast for a playoff game, they move to the next bordering region with an issue. Which again, brings up another worthy concern.

What about the difficulty of getting fans from travel-nation teams, willing to spend the money to travel half way across the country to several post-season games?  Would fans from Detroit be willing to travel to Florida two weeks after they just journeyed to New York for the regional contest? 

Remember, the concept calls for a preliminary round game, and then travel somewhere distant for a New Year’s Day bowl quarter-final, and then somewhere else for a semi-final, and then to a final.

Perhaps a partial solution would again be the regional concept, where either the higher seeded team hosts the first game, or the game is located somewhere half-between the two schools.

Either could work depending on where the game was, however in the east (both north and south), those games would likely be easier for fans to get to, than it would in the mid-west where two teams might be thousands of miles apart.

Professional teams have the same issues, but very few NFL playoff games have problems attracting rabid fans. I would think this might be a non-issue if your team was a legit contender for a championship, because usually that’s something that happens only several times in a lifetime. Attracting fans should be the least of the worries.

The bottom line in all this talk is: how to overcome the many flaws of the current BCS system? Clearly Boise State and TCU did not get treated fairly in the BCS scheme this year, and there are similar  arguments from Ohio State and others, with one loss.

This has been a problem college football fans have been tolerating for half a century. It's time to get it fixed, and get it fixed so we don't have to fix it again in a decade! !




Follow-up to the original article posted at:



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