It goes without saying that college football is long overdue for a playoff system.
The uncertainty of strength of schedule in college football has made determining rankings difficult and just inaccurate. The time has come to take guessing out of the equation in favor of the pure competition of a playoff system. But because university owners and BCS puppets insist they will lose money, let’s take a look at how much money they’ll actually gain and how a fair and unbiased playoff structure could work.
DeathToTheBCS.com as well as the book Death to the BCS reports that “Experts estimate a college football playoff could approach $750 million in annual revenue, more than $600 million ahead of the current system.”
Yeah, I don’t think they’ll be losing much money. The fact that anyone could be so stubborn as to turn their nose at $600 million more than they currently make is just outrageous. My hope is they will see they can keep what they have, just add more.
Next, I will break down how my potential college football system could be implemented as painlessly as possible, by trying to keep much of traditional college football in place, particularly the Bowl Games.
Each of the six Automatic Qualifying (AQ) Conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 10 and SEC) would receive a playoff spot. Whichever team wins their conference championship advances to the playoffs. (Now for any AQ conference that does not have a championship game, the team with the best in conference record would advance.)
Now for all the teams that would complain they are excluded from the playoffs. It is very simple—all you have to do is win as many games as possible, then win your championship game. If you can’t do that, then you didn’t deserve a shot at the championship anyway.
This system would result in six AQ playoff teams. Because that playoff would be very short and would completely eliminate potential non-AQ contenders such as Boise St. and TCU, it would only be fair to allow the two highest ranked teams from Non-AQ Conferences into the playoffs, giving the playoffs a total of eight teams.
Now for anyone who is gonna whine about Non-AQ strength of schedule, would you suggest some kind of wild card for the second best teams in AQ conferences?
Not a terrible idea, I just have no idea how you would pick two teams out of six conferences full of teams with similar records. BCS rankings could possibly decide, but do you see why that just undermines the entire reason for a playoff? The point is we are looking in the right direction—wins before votes, pure competition instead of just guessing.
This is what the potential playoff schedule could look like:
- Conference Championship Games: Dec. 4th, 2010
- First Round of the Playoffs : Dec. 11th, 2010
- Semifinals: December 18th, 2010
- (Playoff BYE Week) Bowl Week: December 19th – December 31st.
- Championship: January 1st, 2011.
BCS rankings could remain, just remove almost all of their importance. All BCS rankings would ultimately decide are the seeding for teams in the playoffs.
This way it really doesn’t matter that much where teams are ranked, because everyone still has a shot to win the championship, so teams would have less to complain about. “This would be a system that encourages competition and reduces complaining? Please go on!” I intend to.
The entire purpose of all of this is to make college football more fair. BCS Rankings are based completely off appearance. Sure statistics are taken into account, but unless each team plays everyone else, there is no way to truly gauge the strength of anyone—especially between conferences. Though this playoff system would only match up eight teams, we all have to admit it would be 1,000 times better than what we have now.
Each six-win team who does not make the playoffs would still be bowl eligible. This potential playoff system would not unravel the entire bowl structure. All of the average bowl games could be preserved, because let’s face it; the teams will be playing for the same thing they always have—nothing more than a check for their school and some decent souvenirs.
These bowl games could be played in relatively the same time frame they are played in now between December 19th and December 31st. Because this would fall during the playoff BYE week, football fans would find interest in the bowl games while they waited for championship game day to arrive.
It may get to the point where some popular bowl games may have to convert into a round of the playoffs. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Instead of the Capital One bowl, it will be the “Capital One—First Round of the Playoffs.” It sounds very rough, but a little tinkering could make the concept very sleek.
Sponsors could still do the same advertising they would do during a bowl game, and the participating schools would still get paid, however, because the result of the game is meaningful, these games would get more viewers than the old bowl games and would be more competitive.
Each big time bowl game sponsor could be attached to a game in a round. The first round has four games which could be Sugar, Orange, Gator and Outback (or Capital One). The Semifinals could be Fiesta and Rose.
They could even somehow attach the word Bowl, everyone would know it’s just a round, but that doesn’t mean it has to be advertised like that. They should sell the title of the championship game to the highest bidder every year. I don’t care if it’s the Verizon Wireless National Championship game, it would make more money.
The majority of American football fans will tell you they like college football over professional football. This may be because there are more college teams in more places around the country. If you consider that, a college football playoff and the resulting championship game would appeal to more Americans than the Super Bowl would.
This championship game could be almost the equivalent to the Super Bowl, because college football had spent four weeks building public anticipation with playoff games, fans would be more in tune with the hot team and eager to see more.
In today's A.D.D society, waiting a month to show a championship game and filling the gap in between with meaningless bowl games is like asking fans to stop caring.
Now asking fans to wait only a week during the college football playoff BYE week is different. Adding excitement to the end of your season is the best thing to do. That equals playoff.
In order to get to a playoff, you need to win your conference. That means teams are still battling for the same things they were before.So this means the existence of a playoff wouldn't devalue the regular season at all. In fact, it would motivate below average teams to win the conference, because once they get in the dance, anything can happen.
Anything can happen when you are given a chance to prove yourself, and people don't just pick the two teams who are probably the best.
This is the only way a playoff should be done. If you just have a playoff of the Top Eight or 10 teams ranked by the BCS, we are allowing opinion to determine who will go to the playoffs. It shouldn't be that way. You should have to earn your place in the playoffs, it's the only way to be fair.
If you want to make the playoffs, win your conference, it is that simple.
The most beautiful thing about this playoff structure is that it is only three more games. What college football team wouldn’t play three more games to prove they are the best team in the nation? Especially if you are the underdog and have been the underdog all season long.
A college football playoff would take everything that makes college football great and put it on a bigger stage. An upset in Week 3 of the season is almost insignificant compared to an upset in the playoffs. It would display the plight of the little guy who never gets respect. It would give David one last swing at Goliath in front of the whole world, either David would drop the giant or David would get crushed, at least then we'd know.
To help put the college football playoff issue in perspective, imagine an NFL season which ends after Week 17, then those dandy expert's power rankings kick in, and they pick the Super Bowl matchup based on that. That's completely ridiculous!
That's what college football does every year.
If you are content with a system that just hand picks the last two undefeated teams to play in a championship, that is fine. But wouldn't you rather see them put there skills to the test against the other seven best teams in the nation.
A computer can't gauge how bad a team wants it. And even though that seems pretty cliche, and it is, it's the truth.
All we can do is hope the BCS bigwigs realize they're sitting on a goldmine; all they need to do is add what amounts to be two more games to any one school's schedule after their conference championship, which would decide if they will play in the championship game, only then will we know the two best teams are going to play each other in the championship.
With a little luck maybe we can turn the BCS upside down.