Could A Playoff Bowl Be Possible?

Ok run with me on this one. The NCAA and bowls don’t have any kind of relationship where one requires the other to really do anything. The bowls operate independently from the NCAA, and usually from each other. Based on all the clamoring by fans for a playoff, if I were in charge of the BCS or a bowl game, I would be thinking of ways to adapt and survive in this changing environment. Introducing the College Football Cafeteria’s proposed Playoff Bowl.

What’s a playoff bowl you ask? Let me explain. If you are the executive of a college football bowl, what is the only thing better than a bowl game? TWO bowl games! Eventually bowl executives are going to have to figure a playoff is coming, so they can either progress with a playoff or fall by the wayside. So how do they embrace a playoff while maintaining their precious bowl games? Simply turn the BCS bowls into a playoff system.

Here’s what they do. There are four BCS bowls right now, Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange. There is also a championship bowl which rotates between the four. Let’s scrap the current system and alter it slightly. Let’s say these four bowls maintain their current conference tie ins as they exist and there are two at large selections. Here is a table to illustrate current tie ins:

BCS Games Conference Conference
Rose Bowl Pac-10 Big Ten
Fiesta Bowl Big 12 At-Large*
Orange Bowl ACC At-Large*
Sugar Bowl SEC At-Large*
BCS Championship BCS #1 BCS #2

*The Big East champion rotates between the 3 bowls with At-Large bids every year.

So let’s cut out the BCS championship for now. You have the four bowl games who select their conference champions and if necessary an At-Large bid with the same requirements as now. At-Large bid must be a non-AQ conference team if they meet requirements or Notre Dame if they meet requirements. Otherwise bowls can select from the BCS top 12.

You play two of these bowls now on Dec. 31 and two on Jan. 1. You now have 4 winners. The day after the final games are played, that years semi-final bowls select two teams each from the four winners. Here’s how: the four winners of the bowl games are ranked according to newly recalculated BCS rankings. Highest ranked team plays lowest ranked team in one bowl, other two play in the other bowl. Once we have our winners, one of the two remaining bowls takes them for a championship game.

There you have it, the playoff bowl! Just for argument’s sake, let’s look at what would happen this year under this criteria.

Rose Bowl- Oregon vs. Wisconsin
Fiesta Bowl- Oklahoma vs. Uconn
Sugar Bowl- Auburn vs. TCU
Orange Bowl- Virginia Tech vs. Ohio State

Let’s say our winners are Oregon, Oklahoma, TCU and Ohio State. All other bowl games will have been played by now as well. The BCS releases recalculated rankings. The rankings are Oregon #1, TCU #2, Ohio State #4 and Oklahoma #8. Oregon would then play Oklahoma in, well, let’s say it’s the Rose Bowl’s year. Then TCU plays Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Oregon and TCU win those bowl games. The following week they meet each other in the Fiesta Bowl for the winner take all.

Is it a perfect playoff system? Of course not. This has potential to screw a lot of teams (Stanford, Arkansas and Michigan State this year to name a few). However, this would be a realistic way for the BCS and their bowls to adapt to the times. This gives everyone a little of what they want. Fans get a halfway decent playoff, even if it’s not ideal. BCS executives retain their power and get even more bowl games meaning even more money. Schools get a chance to prove they are the best in the land.

I know what you’re thinking. But no one will go to the first round! They will hold out to see how far their team goes! Yeah, and since when was the BCS at all concerned about attendance? How many people have gone to the Orange Bowl the past few years? Exactly. Attendance means nothing. Figures won’t change. Some games will continue to sell out while other will not. But ask yourself this- if the ticket sales are what they are now with each fan buying a ticket knowing their team will not play another game, what will happen when the games actually take on some consequence? I think attendance and ratings will not be an issue at all.

But teams will have to travel a lot! Yeah, so? They do it all the time. Teams play at least 4 road games each season. I think two teams having to play 3 straight road games is something both will gladly do in this scenario. So what’s the real downside to adopting this plan? I’ll tell you, the BCS doesn’t want to do anything that resembles a playoff for fear a full fledged playoff will emerge over time. Ever heard of evolution? Change or die. If the BCS is unwilling to change, they will die off. Just wait, as the rising generation comes into power a playoff will emerge on its own anyway. If the BCS wants to stay alive and keep making money hand over fist, they will adopt the playoff bowl and they will adopt it soon.

What do you think about the playoff bowl, feasible or crazy?