Sunday, December 7, 2014

College football playoffs 2014 (done right)

For several years, I've been saying that the NCAA needs a playoff for Division 1-A football. Apparently, the NCAA agrees with me ... to some degree. They finally dumped the horribly flawed BCS for a horribly-flawed 4-team playoff.

My plan would work, and it answers all the questions and controversies that have arisen over the BCS years.

My plan has sixteen teams in the playoffs. Each of the ten conference champions get a slot, and the remaining slots are filled with teams selected by a committee. The committee also seeds the teams.

My preference is that conference champions get the top ten slots, with the wild card teams filling slots 11-16, much as the NFL does. This adds weight to winning the conference. If a wild card team from the SEC feels they should be ranked higher than, say, the Sun Belt champion, then they should have won their own conference.

Here is how the playoffs -- the playoffs done right -- would have shaped up this year.

Top ten seeds are the conference champions.

1. Alabama (Southeastern Conference champion)
2. Oregon (Pac-12 Conference champion)
3. Florida State (Atlantic Coast Conference champion)
4. Ohio State (Big Ten Conference champion)
5. Baylor (Big 12 Conference champion)
6. Boise State (Mountain West Conference champion)
7. Marshall (Conference USA champion)
8. Northern Illinois (Mid-American Conference champion)
9. Cincinnati (American Athletic Conference champion)
10. Georgia Southern (Sun Belt Conference champion)
11. Texas Christian (Big 12 wild card)
12. Mississippi State (Southeastern wild card)
13. Michigan State (Big Ten wild card)
14. Mississippi (Southeastern wild card)
15. Arizona (Pac-12 wild card)
16. Kansas State (Big 12 wild card)

Some of the matchups would be great. Others, yeah, not so much. And, yeah, we end up with a third Arizona vs Oregon matchup. We also get a Marshall-Georgia Southern matchup, which won't top the TV ratings ... outside of Huntington or Statesboro.

Look at the whole package. Winning the conference means something; you get an automatic bid and a better seeding. Really good teams aren't penalized by having one bad game (or a good close loss) that knocks them out of contention. And, if Northern Illinois or Georgia Southern ran the table, who could argue that they aren't the best team?

What the NCAA is giving us this year is better than the BCS. If that was in play, we'd have a single game of Alabama vs Florida State, based on polls and computer rankings. But it's not as good as this plan.

One day, this will be the great idea that some suit in the NCAA comes up with, and he'll be hailed as a genius.


  1. Looks reasonable.

    Of course, any system with a moderate number of teams would beat this years quantum fluctuation of the final four. How does the #3 seed drop completely out with a win?

    Even pulling for Florida State, I'd understand if their fugly wins dropped them out.

    Maybe, in time.

  2. Coming next year on ESPN8- The Ocho!

  3. The simple fact is that no NCAA playoff in any sport will ever have enough slots to satisfy everybody.

  4. The problem I have is that by the time a "championship" comes around, I've had enough football and don't care any more. Like right now... Too. Much. Football.

  5. Agreed. Where do I sign on to this?

    "And the basketball tournament shall show us the way."

  6. Local sports radio host/ESPN analyst/newspaper columnist:

    "This won't work because blah blah big money yakkity shmackity bowl games blah blah after this commercial break I'll tell you the real secret"

  7. So a team that goes to a conference championship and loses, then has one more loss than a team that did not make the championship, so the team that couldn't make it to the championship game then gets moved ahead of the one that made it and lost? Also any team in the conference championship game and continues and makes it to the playoff championship will play 17 games? Teams would have to cut their seasons back in regular games. Just a few thoughts. No matter how many teams you have, there will be debate on who makes it in the last spot or spots.

  8. Corsair:
    Depends on who the committee picks. In Division 1-AA (or FCS) a committee picks the teams. In Division II, a committee picks the teams. In Division III, a committee picks the teams. And, in this year's "playoff" a committee picked the teams.

    The seedings I listed are based on the guidelines I laid out: The ten conference champions, and the best non-conference champions, as determined by the committee. To use the objections you raised, Georgia Tech (ACC), Wisconsin (Big Ten), Arizona (Pac 12), and Missouri (SEC), plus Bowling Green (MAC), Louisiana Tech (C-USA), and Fresno State (Mountain West) made it to their respective conference championship games. Of those, Arizona was one of the top six non-conference champions, and made the field of 16. Georgia Tech was one spot away from making it. Missouri was five spots away. Wisconsin was seven out. None of the other conference championship game losers were listed in the Playoff Rankings of 25 teams,

    As for the length of the season, yeah, it'll make the season longer. But all would have played in a bowl game anyway (well, not Georgia Southern this year). So, the season would end up being three games longer for two teams (the two in the championship). It would be two games longer for another two teams (the semifinal losers), and a game longer for four other teams (the quarterfinal losers). The rest of the 125 teams play the same number of games they'd have played anyway.

    Now, I think the season is too long. I'd cut back to 11 games in the regular season, including any "kickoff classic" games.

    Will some people complain about not making the field of 16? Sure. But if the team complaining had won their conference, they'd have made the cut.

  9. I was wondering if you were going to waive the probation for Ga Southern and allow them to participate in the post season.

    That's too many teams and too many rounds of playoffs. When would the games be and when would it end.

    Remember this is about money. If add that many teams/rounds, then you have to inevitably cut the length of the regular season. That means every 1-A team loses a game, and most likely a home game. At least, say all of the teams from a "Power 5" conference will. So, take Alabama for example. They play in a stadium that seats over 100,000 people. Of course, there are about 20,000 student tickets, but there are 80,000 plus in paid attendance at EVERY home game - regardless of the opponent. All of the tickets are $55 for those less popular games. So, that's $4,400,000 in ticket sales. If they come to the game 4 in each car, parking is $20, so there is another $400,000. If they spend on average $10 each on concessions, then that's another $1,000,000. Add in the loss of business for local restaurants, hotels, gas stations, merchandise sales, etc. and losing a home game is a serious blow to the local economy. Like millions.

    Now multiply that times 60. These teams will not be easily convinced to give up that much cash. This is a big money business now. Why do you think the Big 12 only has 10 teams? They can't have a conference championship unless they have at least 12. But, if they have 12, they have to split revenue 12 ways instead of 10. Too greedy to do what all the other conferences are doing. Plus they don't want to give up getting to play Kansas every year.

  10. Chuck:
    My being a former season ticket holder at Georgia Southern didn't enter into it. If the Eagles would have been denied the spot, the Sun Belt representative would have been Louisiana-Lafayette. Or, they lose their slot and everyone moves up a slot from 11-16, giveing Georgia Tech the last spot.

    As for too many teams, it's not. 1-AA has 24 teams. 16 works well. Every conference gets at least one team (conference champions) and the best of the rest get a shot.

    Too many games? Nope. 16 teams play an extra game. They would have gone to a bowl anyway, so there's no extra load for the eight that lose in the first round. Only eight teams play an even longer season (that's the teams that make it to the second round. And, under the current 4-team playoff, two would do that anyway. So my proposal means only six teams play more than the current setup. If 1-AA teams can play that many games, 1-A teams certainly can.


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