2011 BCS Bowl Games: 8-Team Playoff Version

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2011 BCS Bowl Games: 8-Team Playoff Version

The BCS did the job it was supposed to do: Match the teams that it considers the top two teams in a title game.

What it does not do, nor has ever done, is provide a level playing field for a fair and balanced (*cough*) determination of title participants among the several contenders that inevitably arise each year as legitimate threats on the field.

This, and this alone, is the main reason it fails in the larger, yet unfulfilled mission of the Football Bowl Subdivision—to implement a truly competitive postseason in which the merits of the several contenders are put to the test on the field in a single-elimination tournament.

The very same year that Divisions II and III were created, 1973, the NCAA was able to establish proper playoffs. And when the Football Championship Subdivision (then called I-AA) was created in 1978, the NCAA, likewise, created a proper playoff.

As a result, there has been neither doubt nor debate about the identity of the champion of those three tiers of college football.

The vested interests in FBS—the bowls themselves—oppose a playoff for a multitude of reasons. All of them are legitimate reasons, but not a single one overrides this one and only fact: There is no, repeat, no official NCAA champion of FBS (formerly Division I-A) football.

There is a BCS "national championship," but it most definitely does not count as a team championship in the NCAA record books. Division I basketball championships are counted, of course. So are FCS, Division II and Division III football championships.

But, the FBS remains a breed apart—idiosyncratic, rather inbred, and anxious to preserve a tradition that has long since been trampled under monetary considerations, while refusing to contemplate a playoff as something unfamiliar and foreign.

Until the BCS is truly seen as what it is—an anti-competitive cartel of corporate-sponsored entities in collusion with a segment of FBS athletic programs to restrict participation in the postseason based not on merit, but on status—we will continue to experience the disgusting amalgam of soap opera, beauty pageant and political straw poll that is the postseason in the top tier of college football.

In past articles, I've presented scenarios for eight-team playoffs in each of the previous years of the BCS. My basic template is this: Have the four BCS bowl sites take place on the traditional Jan. 1 (or Jan. 2, as is the case this year), with no other competing bowls on that day. These bowls—Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta—would serve as the quarterfinals.

The four winners would then meet in a "Football Final Four" at a fifth site. I've suggested Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX as a possible permanent fifth site where the semifinals and final would take place (Jan. 8 for the semifinals and Jan. 15 for the final).

In that case, the Cotton Bowl game would move back to the old stadium in Dallas, which is still named for the bowl it hosted up through 2009.

The one tweak I will make to the template this year (and which I might possibly apply retroactively to the previous BCS years in a future article) is this: Instead of the six BCS conference champions receiving automatic qualification to the playoff, the six highest ranked conference champions (in the BCS rankings, though ideally an NCAA committee would institute an RPI measure rather than giving inordinate weight to polling) qualify, along with the two highest ranked at-large teams.

Based on that template, here are this year's playoff participants:

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