The Right Way To Do A Plus One Playoff

Everyone knows the BCS bigwigs are getting together and discussing the future of the BCS. Several topics will be on the table, such as bowl selection, automatic qualifiers and the plus one model. A plus one would be a good start, but 8 teams would be ideal. Still, if a plus one playoff is possible, we must jump on it. But we have to do it right. This is the right way to implement a plus one playoff model.

First, you have to determine how you will select the four teams to compete in the plus one playoff each year. There will be a lot of controversy here. Based on the premise set up in my 8 team playoff proposal, I have an idea. First, you have to make winning your conference mean something. But you can’t just include every team who wins their conference.

The solution is to give precedence to conference champions but only to a degree. In this case, I would suggest that any conference champion finishing in the top 8 of the final BCS standings should be included. In the case of Notre Dame and other independents, any independent finishing in the top 4 should be included.

Now, what if that makes more than 4 teams? Simple, take the highest ranked 4 of those teams. What if there are less than 4 teams? Simple, take the highest ranked teams still available until you get to 4. Let’s look at a few scenarios.

This year, these were the top 8 in the BCS:

Oklahoma State
Boise State
Kansas State

Now, among the top 8 we have three conference champions, LSU, Oklahoma State and Oregon. They are automatically in. No independents in there. We are still short one, so we start at the top of the list and add the highest ranked teams until the spots are full. In this case that is Alabama.

We then use the BCS standings to seed the teams. The lower seed plays the higher seed and the two middle seeds play each other. This means LSU would play Oregon (yeah, and we know how rematches can be) and Oklahoma State would play Alabama.

These two games would be BCS bowl games, much like things are now. Only instead of 4 BCS bowls plus a championship game there will only be 2 BCS bowls and a championship game. I know, there are 4 BCS bowl games though. That’s fine, you just rotate. So here is a hypothetical matchup for this year:

Rose- LSU vs. Oregon
Fiesta- Alabama vs. Oklahoma State
Sugar- whoever they want
Orange- whoever they want

Championship site: Sugar Bowl

So you see things stay much the same way they are now. The winners of the two BCS bowl games meet in the championship. Very easy to implement. Not very fair as it shuts out some deserving teams, but hey, its better than what we have to be sure. Let’s look at how it would have played out last year.

At the end of last season here were your top 8:

Ohio State

Auburn, Oregon, TCU, Wisconsin and Oklahoma were all conference champions. Only 4 spots, so the highest ranked 4 are in. Wisconsin plays Auburn in one BCS bowl and Oregon plays TCU in another BCS bowl. Winners play for the championship the second Monday of January, same day it is now. Let’s look at 2009.

The four highest ranked conference champions were Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati and TCU. Alabama plays TCU in one BCS bowl while Texas plays Cincinnati in another BCS bowl. Winners play for championship. Let’s look at 2008.

Oklahoma, Florida, USC and Utah would have been the four participants. How great would these games have been? How about contentious 2007.

Ohio State, LSU, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma would have battled it out. Can you imagine?

See the problem with the BCS is that certain conference champions are automatically in based on the past performance of teams from the conference. It is ridiculous. We need a system that adapts each year. This does it. You let conference champions in to the plus one, however, they have to be ranked at least top 8. Then it doesn’t matter what conference you play in. Any conference champion in the top 8 gets in. If there are too many conference champions in the top 8, take the four ranked the highest. If there aren’t 4 conference champions in the top 8, then take the highest ranked teams available that didn’t win their conferences. So easy.

So listen up BCS. If you are going to go to a plus one model, which you should, this is how you do it. That way you are only dictating to two of the bowls who they take. Those other two get to pick whoever they want. So once every 4 years one of the bowls doesn’t get one of the BCS matchups. That’s ok. But at least take the shackles off the bowls. Let them pick who they want. Every year two of the four BCS bowls would get to pick any two teams they wanted, and one of them would host the championship. That’s a pretty good deal. Do it BCS.