Can this be fixed? Yes.
The solution is simple: have a playoff. Division 1-AA (FCS), Division II, and Division III all have playoffs, so it's possible to participate in playoffs and still be a student-athlete.
Here is the plan that would work ... if they'd just do it. Whatever team comes out of this would be, without a doubt, the national champion.
First, some basic assumptions:
- If you win your conference, you deserve a spot in the playoffs.
- All conferences are treated equally.
- If you don't win your conference, but you're still a really good, highly-ranked team, you deserve a chance for a spot in the playoffs.
- The bowls shouldn't lose out on having playoff teams appearing.
- The field will be 16 teams, seeded 1-16.
- The 11 conference champions get the top 11 seeds, based on their standing in the Coaches Poll.
- The remaining 5 spots (seeds 12-16) will be filled with the top 5 teams in the BCS that don't win their conference. These are the "at-large" or "wild-card" teams.
- Independent teams will qualify if they are highly ranked. Independent teams are seeded where they would be as if they were a conference champion.
- In each round, the top seed plays the bottom seed, the second seed plays the next-to-last seed, and so on.
- The higher-seeded team in each matchup is the home team.
- The home team hosts games in the first round.
- Teams eliminated in the first round are eligible to appear in a bowl game.
- Louisiana State (Southeastern) (#1)
- Oklahoma State (Big 12) (#3)
- Oregon (Pacific 12) (#5)
- Wisconsin (Big Ten) (#8)
- Clemson (Atlantic Coast) (#14)
- Texas Christian (Mountain West) (#15)
- Southern Mississippi (Conference USA) (#21)
- West Virginia (Big East) (#22)
- Northern Illinois (Mid-American) (#27)
- Arkansas State (Sun Belt) (#30)
- Louisiana Tech (Western Athletic) (#33)
- Alabama (At-large) (#2)
- Stanford (At-large) (#4)
- Boise State (At-large) (#6)
- Arkansas (At-large) (#7)
- South Carolina (At-large) (#9)
- South Carolina at Louisiana State
- Arkansas at Oklahoma State
- Boise State at Oregon
- Stanford at Wisconsin
- Alabama at Clemson
- Louisiana Tech at Texas Christian
- Arkansas State at Southern Mississippi
- Northern Illinois at West Virginia
The quarter-finals are played Christmas week, and will be hosted by existing bowls. The semi-finals are played around New Year's day, and will be hosted by existing bowls. The championship will be the following week (as the current BCS championship is).