An In-Depth Look At A Playoff Scenario

There has been a lot of positive feedback from our new college football playoff proposal, but a lot of people still have questions. I’m hoping to answer those and explain in depth just how this playoff would work, why it is incredibly simple and why it is the absolute best solution to college football’s current dilemma with the BCS.

First, for those who don’t know it yet, here is our simple college football playoff proposal.

1. Conferences will still have complete control over how they determine their champion. Schools will still have complete control over their scheduling. The BCS rankings will still be released as usual. The final game of the regular season will still be Navy vs. Army the second weekend in December. Nothing about the regular season is changed in any way.

2. The postseason playoff will consist of 8 teams.

3. Any conference champion from any FBS conference will receive an automatic berth in the playoff if they finish in the top 14 of the final BCS standings.

4. Any independent finishing in the top 8 of the final BCS standings will receive an automatic berth in the playoff.

5. If after provisions 3 and 4 there are more than 8 teams qualifying for automatic bids, the 8 highest ranked teams in the BCS will participate in the playoff.

6. If after provisions 3 and 4 there are less than 8 teams qualifying for the playoff, then teams will be given at-large berths. The highest ranked teams in the BCS who don’t receive automatic berths will receive at-large berths until 8 teams are in.

Pretty simple, right? So, this year the conference champions ranked in the top 14 were LSU, Oklahoma State, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Clemson, TCU and Southern Miss just barely missed. Now no independent finished in the top 8, so we have 4 spots to fill. The highest ranked teams left are Alabama, Stanford, Arkansas and Boise State. We now have 8 teams. We seed them 1-8 and higher seeds host lower seed. Here is our first round of games that would have been played on Saturday, December 17:

#8 Wisconsin at #1 LSU
#7 Boise State at #2 Alabama
#6 Arkansas at #3 Oklahoma State
#5 Oregon at #4 Stanford

We will say LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State and Oregon win and advance to the semi-finals. Now, people got concerned over bowl games and how they would be decided and all of that jazz. Fear not, I will explain. First of all, no playoff team can participate in a bowl. So with 8 playoff teams, that means 4 bowls will either go away or find someone else. Not sure how many bowl eligible teams did not make a bowl this year, but if there were any, they could fill some spots.

If that is not clear enough or you are still worried, let’s look in depth here and explain exactly what would happen.

1. LSU is slated to play Alabama in the championship. This game would just not take place and nothing lost.
2. Oklahoma State is playing Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl. Two replacement teams would need to be found.
3. Arkansas is playing Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl. A replacement team would need to be found.
4. Oregon is playing Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Two replacements would need to be found.

Ok, so with that in mind, here’s how things could have very, very easily worked themselves out. For the Rose Bowl, in a normal season USC would not have been banned from bowl play. Since Stanford is also in the playoff with Oregon, USC could have represented the Pac-12. Michigan State finished runner up in the Big Ten and could represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl.

The Fiesta Bowl could have replaced Oklahoma State with either Oklahoma or Kansas State. They could have replaced Stanford with TCU.

The Cotton Bowl could have replaced Arkansas with South Carolina or Georgia.

The Las Vegas Bowl could have replaced Boise State with Wyoming.

Ok now I know what you are thinking, but then who replaced Kansas State, Michigan State, Wyoming and all of these others in the bowls they are scheduled to fill? Easy, whoever was behind them in the conference standings. You replace them the same way I just replaced the playoff teams. At the end of the day this means that maybe there are just a few less bowls. Is that really the end of the world? Since 2000 we have already added 10 or 11 bowls. It’s not like “tradition” is attached to any of those. So there are just a couple less bowl games. We can all deal with that. And the bowl games still get very similar matchups of top teams from the conferences.

Ok, so starting Monday, December 19, bowl games begin. The bowls are played whenever the heck they want to be played. The only stipulation is that the championship is still the last game played. So these bowl games go on and the semi-finals are played on Saturday, December 31. They are #5 Oregon at #1 LSU and #3 Oklahoma State at #2 Alabama. Let’s say LSU and Oklahoma State move on.

Bowl games continue up until Monday, January 9. That’s the day of the championship game. Now this game is played at a neutral site. It can either rotate between the 4 bowls it does now, or it can be open to the highest bidder, including NFL stadiums. Wherever it gets played it gets played. Winner is the undisputed champion.

This formula is easy to repeat every year. The playoff always starts the Saturday after the Army-Navy game. The bowl games always start the Monday after the playoff begins and end by the second Monday of January. The championship game is always the second Monday of January. The semi-finals are always two Saturdays before that. Team selection is easy. The schedule is easy. Bowl games continue unaffected. Best of all, we get a true national champion. And the race for #1 and #2 in the final standings remains important as that is the only way to secure home field in both playoff games.

There really is no downside with this plan. It is not at all complicated, could be implemented immediately, and would only enhance the game. This shows that it can coexist with the bowl games and that everything will continue on that front just fine.

So what do you think?