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This Needs To Happen Before an NCAA College Football Playoff

PJ SapienzaContributor IIIJanuary 9, 2011

This Needs To Happen Before an NCAA College Football Playoff

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The first step to improving College football

    The chants for a playoff system grower louder and louder with each passing season and rightly so, yet again the season will finish will two undefeated teams and a champion only decided on paper.

    In the calls for a playoff system, people miss what should be the first step. 

    Before a playoff system is implemented, the current scheduling system in college football needs to be fixed.  Looking at the six BCS conference champs shows that their non conference schedules are rather weak. 

    Combined, the teams that these BCS teams played during their non conference schedule boast a paltry 42 percent win percentage.  The non conference teams of Auburn and Oregon, the two teams playing for the national championship, only have a 35 percent win percentage.

    Does it really excite anyone to watch these teams play some community college only to blow them out 60-0?

    The schedules can be fixed in a few easy steps.  The rankings would be based on the results from the previous year.

    To start with, teams not in a conference better get into one.  There is no guarantee that they will be able have enough games unless they are in a conference.  Also, one team from a lower division would need to move up, making 120 teams.

Limit Schools Playing the Weakest Teams Possible to Once a Season

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Step 1:

    Split the previous year’s rankings in half. 

    Each team from the top half will randomly draw a team from the bottom half to play against for their opening game of the season.  This should allow most teams to get the cream puff warm up game that they desire.

3 Groups of 40 Will Make For Better Games Against Quality Oppenents

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    Auburn Tigers routed the lower Division Chattanooga Mocs 62-24Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Step 2:

    Split the rankings into three sets of 40. 

    Each set of 40 teams would play a game against someone in their same group.  This will do away with the regular weekly beatings that the Goliaths put on the Davids of football. 

    Plus, it will give the fans more tantalizing matchups. 

    Was anybody really impressed to see Auburn play a FCS division (formerly I-AA) Chattanooga team for their 10th game?

    With this option in Week 2, there would be 20 games featuring teams from the top 40.  Just imagine some of the great possible matchups that could happen. 

Conference Battles

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    How would the big schools fare playing at Boise State?Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Step 3:

    Conference vs conference games. 

    Conferences would play each other on a rotating basis.  Just imagine an SEC vs Big Ten matchup or the Pac-10 playing the Big 12. 

    There are 11 conferences.  Take the top eight, based on previous year’s rankings, and have them play each other.  The bottom three leagues would then play against each other.  Games between the leagues could be randomly drawn. 

    Now, of course not all of the leagues have the same number of teams.  The odd teams left out of the conference matchups would all go into a pool and then play each other.   

    Now, to keep the best matchups for the inter conference play, the last place teams would go into this pool of extra teams.  For instance, looking at this year, if it were a Pac Ten vs SEC matchup, then Vanderbilt and Mississippi would go into this pool and would join Kansas who would be the odd team out from a Big Ten vs Big 12 matchup and so on.

    An added option to this game would be to move it around in the schedule.  Imagine making those warm weather SEC teams travel to Ohio State, Michigan or Wisconsin for a late snowy November game, or how would the BCS schools do on that blue turf at Boise?

Maintain Current Rivalries

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Step 4: 

    The fourth non conference game would be open. 

    Now ideally, this is used to ensure non conference rivalry games such as Notre Dame vs Michigan or Florida vs Florida State. 

    With several teams such as Nebraska jumping conferences this coming season, they would still be able to play old rivalry games with a former conference partners.  Teams with no current rivalries in place could either start one or rotate games. 

    The scheduling committee would need to approve such games as a new rivalry game.  Buffalo vs LSU or USC vs Eastern Michigan would certainly go against the spirit of the new system.   

The Conference Schedule

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Step 5:

    Pretty simple, all teams take part of their normal conference games to determine a champion. 

    This is where the current teams that are not in a conference need to join one.  There will not be enough games for them to play without a conference affiliation.

A Title Game That Matters

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Step 6: 

    Now we talk playoff.  With the current 119 teams there is no way to get a 100 percent even schedule, but this proposal would come much closer than what is currently offered. 

    This season Wisconsin had a non conference schedule of teams with a measly 22 percent win percentage.  Under the above system, even if allowing them the improbable luck of selecting the last team in each category, at bare minimum, they would bump this up to a 35 percent win percentage, and in reality it would be much higher than that.

    Using the above system would allow for better selection of teams in either an eight or 16 team playoff system. 

    Teams would face a tougher test outside the conference than they do now.  The known mid majors, such as TCU, Boise and Utah would get more chances at facing the big schools, but also the lesser known and perhaps just as dangerous teams such as Nevada, San Diego State and Northern Illinois would have a better chance at playing their way into the playoffs without the bias that goes against mid majors by the poll voters.

    What playoff system to use?  Really there are only three options that make sense.

    —16 Teams:  All 11 conference champs get an automatic bid, with the remaining five spots being at large

    —16 Teams: Top nine conferences get an automatic bid, the two lowest rated conference champs have a play-in game for the 10th spot.  That then leaves six at large spots

    —16 Teams: No automatic spots, top 16 teams make it

Bowl Games Would Still Work

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Bowl games:  Does it seem odd to anyone else that the NCAA comes down hard on schools, players and coaches for conduct with boosters, yet allows boosters to dictate a bowl system that prevents the crowning of a true champion?

    Even with a playoff system, the bowls are still viable. 

    This year, beyond the BCS title game, it could be argued that the Rose Bowl, with an undefeated TCU playing, was the only other championship relevant bowl game. 

    Nevada vs Boston College, Kentucky vs Pittsburgh and Florida vs Penn State had no bearing on anything, so why not still allow the bowl games. 

    Toss out all of the conference tie ins, make it a rule that only winning records get to play (6-6 is not a winning record) and make games that people want to see.

    The 16 team playoff would see the higher rated team host the first two rounds.  The semifinal and final game could then rotate among the current BCS bowl game locations now.

    By fixing the schedule, we have a much better chance of knowing who the best 16 teams are that deserve to be in the playoffs. 

    Start with the schedule, then add playoffs and please NCAA, do it now.

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