An Intriguing New Playoff Proposal

It’s the off season, so the only thing to talk about is how much we all hate the BCS. I don’t ever want the conversation to get stale or to keep repeating the debate, so it is always nice to get new ideas from readers. I just received one such idea from one of our readers, and it is an intriguing playoff proposal that you can read in full here. I like some of the ideas, but let me make some modifications that I think can make this a viable plan.

First, if you were too lazy to click the link and read the proposal, here are the basics of the playoff:

1. The playoff consists of 6 teams.
2. All 6 BCS conference champions are in, with rules for replacing them with non-BCS schools or independents.
3. Matchups are regionally based, using the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange Bowls for locations.
4. The timeline follows the current bowl timeline.

This is actually a pretty decent plan. It takes into account all the mundane argument the BCS conference commissioners are always throwing around. It addresses the five main anti-playoff arguments:

1. The regular season maintains its importance as no one is a lock, even if they are conference champions. Non-conference games will still matter.
2. The timeline is the same as the current bowls, from December 18 or so to January 10 more or less. No extra time to the season, just a couple extra games for a couple of teams.
3. All bowl tie-ins are maintained with the major BCS bowls as they are now.
4. Regional matchups keep travel costs down.
5. The playoff goes with the bowls, not as a separate system.

This does seem like it could make a good compromise, as I see both good and bad in this proposal. The good things I’ve listed above. It satisfies any anti-playoff argument the BCS folks have come up with. But on the minus side, it doesn’t satisfy all the arguments made against the BCS.

This system is still dominated by the BCS conferences, which is great for them, but doesn’t exactly give equal access to all those who merit a spot in the playoff. A true playoff system should never have a deserving team out and an undeserving team in. This system could allow for that, so who gets in would have to be modified.

Teams do not get home games. This is the best reward possible for a good season, to get home field advantage in a playoff. This also gives a huge financial boost to the schools as opposed to the bowl executives who rape and pillage the schools for all they are worth.

Regional matchups could cause uneven games in the first round. What if the #1 seed was the SEC champ and the #2 seed was the ACC champ? Then #2 would not get a first round bye but the Big 10, Big 12 or Pac 10 champ would, even though they were ranked lower.

The BCS conference commissioners would never go for something that has the remotest possibility of denying their champion, as this proposal does. There simply has to be automatic bids or it won’t fly with them.

With that in mind, I’ve thought of a few modifications to this idea that could really make it work.

1. First, it is an 8 team playoff instead of 6 teams. All 6 BCS conference champions are in. The two at large spots are given by the following criteria:

2. All 8 teams are seeded according to BCS ranking.
3. The top 4 seeds will be conference champions, not at large bids.
4. The top 4 seeds will get “home field” advantage in the first round, in that they get the bowl location they are currently tied to, which are:

5. If the Pac 10 and Big Ten champions are in the top 4 or the ACC and Big East champions are in the top 4, then the higher ranked teams gets the above bowl game and the lower seeded team gets whichever bowl is open. If the top 4 seeds are the champions of the Pac 10, Big Ten, ACC and Big East, then the lower seeded Rose Bowl team goes to the Fiesta and the lower seeded Orange Bowl team goes to the Sugar.
6. The top seed plays #8, 2 plays 7, 3 plays 6 and 4 plays 5 as the first bowl games of the season.
7. All other bowl games are played by New Year’s Day.
8. On New Year’s, the 4 remaining teams are re-seeded, 1-4. 1 plays 4 and 2 plays 3.
9. The #1 and #2 team get “home field” bowl advantage again the same way as before, with the same backups as before. If #1 or #2 is not one of the AQ schools, then the following conference’s get the following bowls:

If #1 and #2 would normally get the same bowl, #1 gets the bowl and #2 has to take their backup.
10. The championship game would be the week following the semi-finals. Location is on a rotating basis between whichever bowls the BCS and NCAA decide.

Ok, that was confusing, let me try and sum it up with an example from this year. If this playoff format were followed this year, this would have been the setup:

1. Auburn
2. Oregon
3. TCU
4. Wisconsin
5. Stanford
6. Oklahoma
7. Virginia Tech
8. Uconn

Auburn plays Uconn at Sugar Bowl on December 18th.
Oregon plays Virginia Tech at Rose Bowl on December 18th.
TCU plays Oklahoma at the Fiesta Bowl on December 17th.
Wisconsin plays Stanford at the Orange Bowl on December 17th. Assume all higher seeds win.

On New Year’s Day, Auburn plays Wisconsin in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon plays TCU in the Rose Bowl. Assume higher seeds win.

One week later, Auburn and Oregon play in whichever bowl gets them in the rotation, this year it was the Fiesta Bowl. Now let’s look at the seedings and matchups that would have happened the year before:

1. Alabama
2. Texas
3. Cincinnati
4. TCU
5. Boise State
6. Oregon
7. Ohio State
8. Georgia Tech

Alabama plays Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.
Texas plays Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Cincinnati plays Oregon in the Orange Bowl.
TCU plays Boise State in the Rose Bowl.

On New Year’s, Alabama plays TCU in the Sugar Bowl.
Texas plays Cincinnati in the Fiesta Bowl.

One week later, Texas and Alabama play for the championship in whichever bowl was in the rotation. This is kind of fun, let’s do one more and look at 2008.

1. Oklahoma
2. Florida
3. USC
4. Utah
5. Texas
6. Penn State
7. Cincinnati
8. Virginia Tech

Oklahoma plays Virginia Tech in the Fiesta Bowl.
Florida plays Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl.
USC plays Penn State in the Rose Bowl.
Utah plays Texas in the Orange Bowl.

On New Year’s, Oklahoma plays Utah in the Fiesta Bowl.
Florida plays USC in the Sugar Bowl.

One week later, Oklahoma and Florida meet for the championship.

Who wouldn’t have wanted to see these games? This would have been awesome. Sure, it’s not a full blown playoff, but it is a compromise, and one the BCS people couldn’t argue against with their current rational for blocking a playoff. The only argument against it is “We just don’t want a playoff.” Which is probably true anyway.

What do you think of this plan? Is it a viable set up? Share your thoughts in the comments below!