The powers that be in the NCAA are finally starting to think progressively. A four team football playoff is an improvement to the BCS system in which, in my opinion, they only got the championship game right 7 times in 16 years. The BCS focused too much on computers and statistics, instead of football knowledge and the “eye test”. The four team playoff needs to be just a stepping stone to a larger playoff format though.
Just take this year for example. There are more than 4 teams that can rightfully say they deserve to play for a National Championship. More years than not, this is usually the case. Very rarely do more than one or two power conference teams finish the season undefeated. Thus a debate for those deserving will always be had. So here is a novel idea, how about we decide a champion ON THE FIELD, instead of in a secret board room or computer formula. Every other football division has a playoff system, it is time for D1 to step up and do the same. Again, 4 teams is a nice start, but I propose a 12 team playoff format.
Four and eight teams seem to be too small and 16 teams maybe too many. The regular season still needs to matter and I believe 16 teams will limit the impact of the regular season. Therefore 12 teams is the right amount. The playoff committee can still determine the seeding, which you will see in my proposal, will still matter. But I think putting emphasis on conference champions, and again keeping the regular season relevant is important. As a result, here is my NCAA football playoff proposal:
- The top 4 teams will be determined by the playoff committee and will get a first round bye. (Similar to the NFL. Provides huge incentives on performing well in the regular season.)
- The 5 conference champions of power conferences are guaranteed a home playoff game. Therefore they will be automatically in the top 8.
- Outside of the 5 conference champions, the other 7 teams again will be determined by the playoff committee.
- A non-conference champion can be slated in the top 4 if determined by the playoff committee. However, a conference champion cannot be out of the top 8, giving them a home playoff game.
- Round one games will be at the higher seeds home field a week after the conference championship games. The match-ups will be 5 vs 12; 6 vs 11; 7 vs 10; and 8 vs 9.
- Round two games will be a week after round one. Seeds 1,2,3,4 will host. The lowest remaining seed will play the 1 seed; the second lowest will play the 2 seed and so on with seeds 3 and 4. Again putting emphasis on the regular season to get the highest seed possible.
- The semi-final games will be January 1st and they will be in the same format as the playoff is set this year. Meaning the “big bowls” will rotate the semi-final games annually. The lowest remaining seed will play the highest remaining seed.
- The championship game will be normally scheduled the second Monday after January 1st.
- The losers of round one will be inserted in a bowl game in January, allowing them to play one extra game as every other team in the playoff, thus making more money.
- The ticket sales from the playoff games will be split among ALL the playoff schools, but all concession sales will be kept by the home teams, generating more revenue.
- Money made from viewership will be split among the competing conferences as they are for the bowl games. Again, generating more money. (Isn’t that what this is all about?!)
I believe creating a playoff format like this will take away any debate about who the true champion is. Devil’s advocate will say there will be a debate about who the top 12 are. This debate will without a doubt take place. But it is easier to determine a top 12 then a top 4. Fewer arguments can be made if you are not in the top 12. Plus this format guarantees conference champions their just due by allowing them to earn their spot in the playoffs and a home game. On top of all of it, this kind of system will create some very intriguing match ups, allow fans bases to travel to stadiums never traveled before, be a lot of fun to analyze and watch, and again, it will make everyone involved a whole lot of money!
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Mike Banyasz