A Solution to the BCS: A Division One College Football Playoff
How often after the National Championship game do we college football fans find ourselves left wondering if the best team really won? How often do we wonder if the best team or teams even got to play?
If you are like me then that happens to you more often than not, both before and after the installation of the BCS.
Let us start with the most current BCS travesty: Boise State. The Broncos went 12-0 undefeated, but played conference games in the WAC, a mid-major conference. Subsequently, Boise State played 11-2 Oklahoma instead of Ohio State—the only other undefeated team.
Ohio State was embarrassed by Florida and Boise State upset Oklahoma in what may be one of the greatest games of all time. Those events left Boise State as the only undefeated team in the nation, without a national championship, without even a shared National Championship like USC enjoyed after being passed over in 2003.
Just two years before the Boise State affair, the Auburn Tigers went undefeated in the SEC, beating the last year's National Champions the LSU Tigers. However, Auburn was left out of the National Championship game along with fellow undefeated team Utah.
In the National Championship game USC obliterated Oklahoma, leaving many fans wondering if Auburn should have played for the National Championship instead of Oklahoma.
The year before, Auburn was overlooked and USC was one of the one-loss teams. LSU and Oklahoma—the other two—were selected to play in the National Championship game. LSU beat Oklahoma and USC beat Michigan, leaving two one-loss teams.
Despite playing in and winning the National Championship game, LSU and USC were declared co-champions.
There are several apparent issues with the BCS system. The first and most noticeable is the fact that there is no solution for multiple undefeated teams, or multiple one-loss teams. The second is the inconsistency of the rulings for multiple undefeated or one-loss teams. USC was declared a co-champion but Auburn and Boise State were not.
One issue that poses a challenge towards a playoff is that there are 34 Bowl games slated for 2008. That is roughly 30 different cities (because some cities have multiple bowls) and 68 colleges and universities that would lose revenue generated by bowl games.
The most efficient way to solve the problem is to make bowl stadiums the sights for playoffs. There are 34 sites and if you take the top 32 teams that is 16 games in the first round, eight in the second, four in the third, two in the semifinals, and one in the championship. That is 31 games, since the national championship and one BCS bowl are held at the same site. Only two cities would lose a bowl game.
The less prestigious bowl games, like the GMAC Bowl, New Orleans Bowl, etc., would be the sites for the first round. As the playoffs progressed the games would move to more prestigious bowl sites.
The quarterfinal might be the Cotton Bowl, Chick Fil-A, Orange Bowl, and Outback Bowl, while the semifinals might be the Sugar and Rose Bowls and the championship game might be the Fiesta Bowl.
Much like the BCS National Championship Game, the playoff game would be held at one of the four BCS Bowl sites, and would change from year to year.
The playoff format would include the top two teams from each of the 11 conferences and ten at-large spots for the highest ranked teams that don't finish in the top two in their conference.
The seeding could be done in a variety of ways, but separating teams from the same conferences until the second or third round would be my method of choice. That could be done a variety of ways.
I believe that this format would be fair to both the teams, the schools, and the cities.
The last element would be the teams' regular season schedule. The schedule could be cut from 12 to 10 games with eight conference and two non-conference for the teams who have that type of schedule. This way if a team goes all the way to the National Championship game they only play 15 games—just one more than teams who play a 12-game season, a conference championship, and a bowl game.
It may not be perfect, but it is my solution. If you have a better one, feel free to tell me.
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