Wishful Thinking: The 2008 Dream BCS Playoff Scenario

Ingram WorleyCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2008

Writer’s note: The ideas in this article have absolutely no chance of coming to fruition. This is simply an idea that, if put into practice, would produce perhaps the greatest three to four week stretch of college football that any of us have ever seen.

Hopefully at some point in our lifetimes, we, as fans, will get a chance to see this or something like it become a reality.

What follows is my idea for a BCS playoff. I haven’t worked out the logistics like dollars, travel, and class time, but I think this could work with relatively small changes.

Well, maybe not small... 

Imagine this: In late 2007, the university presidents, along with the BCS committee, finally agree to a college football playoff scenario that everyone can live with. The BCS rankings will continue throughout the year, beginning in week eight, and use the same formula that has been in effect for the last couple of years.

While one can easily find flaws in the rating system, most would agree that it is more effective than, say, the NCAA Basketball Tournament selection committee. That selection process consists of moderately qualified people sitting in a room, arguing over what teams should be the 11-16 seeds in each region.

Absolutely no structure exists.

At least with the BCS ranking system, there is structure. Voters have a say and computers have a say. It may not be perfect, but at least it’s consistent.

So here goes: the regular season is reduced to 11 games. The conferences that employ a conference championship game will still have one. That would make a maximum of 12 games before the postseason.

After the championship games have been played, the final BCS standings are released. I will use the 2008 final BCS standings as an example.

The top 12 teams according to the final BCS rankings advance to the BCS Championship Playoff (insert your "presented by Giant Corporate Sponsor" here).

The remaining bowl-eligible teams scatter through the remaining bowls. Most tie-ins and dates should not have to change (much).

Money generated by, and attention to, these bowls should not change much either, as they will have little competition for ratings in the December 20-28 range, give or take a few days.

In my 12-team playoff, the top four teams are rewarded with a first-round bye. This could be seen as a reward for earning a top-four ranking.

This could also be seen as motivation for a team like Oklahoma, who, in 2008, would have made the 12-team playoff, regardless of the outcome of their Big 12 Championship game against Missouri.

In my scenario, Oklahoma has the built-in motivation of a conference championship game, but also the goal of earning the bye in the first round of the tournament.

The first argument against a playoff always involves the idea that if there were 12 teams included, one would still hear arguments from the 13th and 14th teams that were left out. So be it. If a team finishes 13th, they should have won one more game. It has to be cut-off somewhere.

My playoff would start the week before New Year’s Day, with the four "play-in" games.

Once again, using the final 2008 BCS ranking, those "play-in" games would play out like this:

No. 5 USC would be matched up with No. 12 Cincinnati.

My idea would be that in the "play-in" game, or first round, the location of the game would be tied to the higher-seeded team. In this case, we would find a higher-tier bowl that is located in the West.

It could work that The Emerald Bowl would present the game. This would not be a home game for USC, but they would have earned the advantage of having the game in their region, much like the new "pod" system in the NCAA basketball tournament.

According to my method, the winner of this game moves on to take on No. 4 Alabama in the Outback Bowl the following week.

No. 6 Utah would draw No. 11 TCU in the first round.

While not exactly a dream playoff matchup, this game pits two "mid-majors" against each other on the biggest of stages.

I would suggest the Las Vegas Bowl to be the host. The reward would be a chance to play No. 3 Texas in the Fiesta Bowl.

No. 7 Texas Tech would draw No. 10 Ohio State in the Alamo Bowl.

In my opinion, this is an incredibly interesting pair of contrasting styles. The winner would move on to face No. 2 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.

Although the Cotton Bowl is no longer one of the "Big Four" bowls, this would give it a chance to get back to that level.

The final "play-in" game would match No.8 Penn State with No. 9 Boise State.

There is not much of a chance of an existing bowl that fits as a fair neutral site. It might have to be the bowl in Detroit or the one at RFK Stadium in Washington. This is the point in my plan where logistics poses problems, but follow along anyway.

The winner of this game gets the No. 1 Florida Gators in the Orange Bowl.

All of the play-in games could be determined by New Year’s week.

If, for the purpose of this explanation, we assume the outcome of the games followed the seedings, you would have USC against Alabama in the Outback Bowl, Utah-Texas in the Fiesta, Oklahoma-Texas Tech in the Cotton, and Penn State-Florida in the Orange.

Can you imagine the buildup for that weekend? The highest-bidding network could even stagger the games to fall on the same day, in a 10:00 AM, 1:30 PM, 5:00 PM, 8:30 PM lineup. Are you leaving your couch that day?

After perhaps the biggest day in the history of college football, we would be left with four semi-finalists. For the purpose of the example, continue to assume that the higher seeded teams win.

On the second Saturday of January, we get an afternoon rematch of Texas and Oklahoma, and a night rematch of Florida and Alabama. Does it get any better than that?

I would imagine that the Rose Bowl would need to be included, so Texas and OU would play there.

Florida and Alabama would be a nice fit for the Sugar Bowl.

Sometime around January 15th, the BCS Championship would be played. The two participants would most likely be competing in their 14th or 15th game of the year. That is just one additional game for the two teams that make it all the way.

As far as I'm concerned, this eliminates the argument about missing classes.

Another plus to this system is the inclusion of the "mid-major". Of the 12 "playoff" teams in this system, three would have come from non-BCS conferences. There would be no more complaining about "not getting our shot".

I know that the hurdles to a plan like this involve distribution of money above all else. But doesn’t it seem plausible that those who make these decisions could figure this out?

I do not possess the ability to fathom the revenue. It seems to me that all parties benefit, but what do I know?

If the bottom line has a larger figure, isn’t that a good thing? It is frustrating to think that we are being deprived of this system, year after year.

I know that I will probably get bombarded with every reason that this could not happen.

I hope that I do.

Every argument presented against this plan has a potential solution.

Consider this just one person making just a little more noise about something that has become a huge injustice to the college football fan.

I enjoy most sports. I believe that college football is the greatest sport on the planet. But we are missing out on what could be the greatest part of the greatest sport.

To those running the BCS: Please make this happen! Realize the potential! Create an event that would dwarf the NCAA basketball tournament and rival the NFL playoffs! Am I asking too much? Probably.

But what the hell? It is just an idea.


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