Beginning in 2014, Peyton Manning’s dad, Condoleeza Rice and a 77 year old man who used to coach big time college football will be part of selection committee who will select the four college football teams that will participate in the first ever College Football Playoff.
Is this the best we can come up with? This is America’s favorite sport, yet to decide a champion at the college ranks, we’ve resorted to a closed door vote amongst people who having nothing to do with what happens on the field and come with – intentional or not – built in bias? I know we can do better.
I’m not the first to propose something like this, but I’d like to present my blueprint for a 16 team college football playoff. Before you starting huffing and puffing about how 16 is too many, understand, if you don’t already, that 16 would be less than any other level of college football currently uses in its playoffs.
My plan begins with the conferences. The entity known as NCAA FBS (Division 1-A) is comprised of ten conferences and seven (currently) independent schools. Step one would be to give all ten conference champions an automatic bid to the playoffs. You now have six “at-large” slots left to fill.
Rather than herd a group of old folks into a room like cattle to argue and banter about what six teams get the nod, why not just use a resource we already have – the BCS rankings. The original intent of the BCS rankings was to decide who the top two teams in the nation are. Why not use them to decide who the top six teams who didn’t win their conferences are?
Once you have your 16, you again use the BCS rankings to seed them. This is pretty cut and dry. Basically, you could end up as high as a 2 seed without winning your conference (which has happened in the past).
You then split the bracket into four regions – East, South, Midwest and West. This is how you integrate the current BCS bowls into the new playoff. The round of 16 would be played on the home field of the higher seed. The winners of those games would advance to the quarterfinals, which would be played as bowl games. The East quarterfinal would be the Orange Bowl, South would be the Sugar, Midwest would be the Fiesta and West would be the Rose.
Just like March Madness, you’d send the top four teams to the region closest to their locations, giving the higher seeded team priority. You could even make an exception with the Rose Bowl, should a Big Ten or PAC 12 team be in the top four. After the quarterfinal bowl round, it’s on to the final four and then the College Football Championship game, which could rotate sites like the Super Bowl (although I’m sure Jerry Jones would make a strong push to put it permanently at Jerry World).
If the 2013 college season were to end today and the teams leading their conference ended up being the champions, this is a rough draft of what my 16 team college football playoff would look like.
SOUTH REGION (SUGAR BOWL)
#1 Alabama (SEC) vs. #16 Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt)
#8 Missouri (At-Large) vs. #9 Stanford (At-Large)
MIDWEST REGION (FIESTA BOWL)
#4 Baylor (Big 12) vs. #13 Northern Illinois (MAC)
#5 Oregon (PAC 12) vs. #12 Fresno State (MWC)
WEST REGION (ROSE BOWL)
#3 Ohio State (B1G) vs. #14 Central Florida (AAC)
#6 Auburn (At-Large) vs. #11 South Carolina (At-Large)
EAST REGION (ORANGE BOWL)
#2 Florida State (ACC) vs. #15 North Texas (CUSA)
#7 Clemson (At-Large) vs. #10 Oklahoma State (At-Large)
Outside of your #1 and #2 seed games (and this is just my opinion), there really are not that many mismatches in round one. Some of your potential quarterfinal matchups would be must see TV (Oregon vs. Baylor, Ohio State vs. Auburn).
This playoff plan also gives the Independent teams a fair shot to crack the playoffs. All they would need to do is be one of the six highest ranked teams not to win a conference. In my current example, South Carolina gets in with an overall BCS rank of 11 – a realistic goal for any team with championship aspirations.
What my plan does is give real meaning to winning your conference, regardless of what conference, and rewards the conference champions with something more than a bowl game in Detroit or Mobile. It also opens the door for teams who play in what are perceived as stronger conferences to get into the playoffs via the six at-large bids.
It’s not perfect, but it’s thorough, accurate and inclusive. That’s more than what you can say for the process that’s going to take place starting in 2014.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON NOVEMBER 20, 2013
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