The Great Debate: How To Setup A College Football Playoff

Well the BCS is done starting in 2014 and everyone is happy about that. But what is taking its place? That’s a different story altogether. Some have argued in favor of a plus one but the vast majority of voices out there are calling for a playoff. It seems all we can get there would be a four team playoff. So what is the best option? Let’s look at each.

First there is the plus one model. This basically keeps everything exactly how it is, but after the bowl games are wrapped up everyone gets re-ranked and the top two teams play each other for the championship the following week. It’s very simple and very easy to implement, although controversy won’t die down much.

As it stands, the Pac-12 and B1G champions would play in the Rose Bowl. The Big 12 and SEC champions would play in their new Champions Bowl. The ACC and Big East champions would play in the Orange Bowl. The MWC and C-USA champions will more than likely end up playing in the Fiesta Bowl. The Sun Belt and MAC champions will play in some bowl no one will watch or care about and the WAC will probably not exist in 2014.

That makes 5 bowl games that pit the top conference champions against each other. You know, that might actually work out kind of well. Imagine last year. It would have been LSU and Oklahoma State in the Champions Bowl, and the Rose and Orange Bowls would have been the same. When the dust settled, it still might have been Alabama and LSU. Who knows.

This could create great matchups each year if you just took the whole BCS crap out of it. Just let conference champions play. Period. The only problems arise if the Pac-12 and B1G champions are #1 and #2. Means one of them won’t play for the championship the following week. And shouldn’t 1 and 2 have some kind of way to meet in the title game? There’s some ironing out here, but I think it is plausible. However, we still leave rankings up to the trained apes who are behind the computer formulas. And that I don’t like.

So say we toss the plus one and go to a playoff. Right now four teams is the only playoff on the table, so that’s all I’ll go over. How do you select the teams? Where do they play? When? These are some tough questions to answer.

The who is pretty simple. Either you take the top four teams in the final rankings, the four highest ranked conference champions or some combination of the two. But which is the right way to go?

I think a combination. I think that no matter what you just put #1 and #2 in the playoff no matter what. That should be no question. From there you look at conference champions but only to a certain point. I would think you just look at the teams ranked 3, 4, 5, and 6. Are all four conference champions? Then take 3 and 4. Are three of the four conference champions? Then take the two champs ranked highest. Are only two of them conference champions? Then take them both. Is only one a conference champion? Then take them and the highest remaining team. Are none of them conference champions? Then take 3 and 4.

This way there is a prize for winning your conference and having a good year. No one can get in the playoff that isn’t a top 6 team. And because Notre Dame has preferential treatment, we’ll say if they finish in the top 6 they count as a conference champion and are treated as such.

That settles the who, how about the where? There has been some skepticism about using home field advantage for the two top seeds because not all home fields are created equal. If it was Texas and Ohio State then sure. Both have huge stadiums and are in huge cities.

But what if TCU was in there? Very small stadium, small city. How do they accommodate all the fans?

You might be thinking what I am. Something sounds fishy here. And you would be right. This is nothing more than a ploy to keep bowl games relevant. Why? Because all the bigwigs in this sport are friends looking out for each other, not the sport.

Think for one second. TCU plays 6 home games a year. Has there ever been a problem? Are there too many fans for the visiting team that there are not enough hotels or seats in the stadium?

There’s a reason it is called a HOME game. It is because fans of the HOME team who live in the HOME city fill the seats. You don’t have to worry about available seating or hotels. They will treat it like any other home game. Certain number of tickets are allotted to the visiting team. They can sell them. Done deal. Not at all complicated.

The sad truth is the bowl executives want in on the playoff action they have tried to keep from happening for decades. The bigger the venue for these playoff games, the more money there is for everyone involved. Except the schools of course, because they would make infinitely more to simply host the game.

So don’t fall for this nonsense. The best reward for a great season is a HOME playoff game in the first round. Let the championship game be a neutral site. But let 1 and 2 get home games.

So we have the who and the where, how about when? Simple, New Year’s Day. It’s already synonymous with college football. If it is on a Sunday, then do them the day before. Make the playoff games the final two games of bowl season. All bowls have from the day after Army-Navy until kickoff of the first playoff semi-final to be played. More than enough time.

Then you can keep the championship game on the same day. Winners of the two playoff games meet at a neutral site. It’s very simple.

But of course, it won’t be this simple. The powers that be have to worry about milking a playoff for as much money as possible. So naturally the obvious, simple solution won’t happen. But don’t think this debate is even close to over. They will be talking about this all year.