Bowl Games and Timeline

The often erroneously made argument from those against a larger playoff is that it would destroy the tradition of college football. By tradition, they mean bowl games. The bowls are singular and unique to college football. Yet I fail to see how a larger playoff would destroy them. There’s a perfectly easy way for an 8 team playoff and the traditional bowl games to live in harmony. And here’s how.

First we have to look at the college football timeline. The season starts around Labor Day and ends the second weekend of December with the Army vs. Navy game. Bowl games start the following weekend and go until the second Monday of January with the BCS championship. Nothing changes.

The Friday after the Navy vs. Army game, the playoff begins with 8 playing at 1 and 7 playing at 2. The next day you have 6 playing at 3 and 5 playing at 4. That’s a great weekend of football. The following Monday, two days later, let the bowl games begin.

The four teams already eliminated from the playoff are eligible for bowl games. The semi-finals of the playoff would follow the same schedule we have now. Championship game is still the same day, second Monday of January after all bowl games are done. The bowls would survive and continue to be just as meaningless as before, with a few good ones around New Years.

So the current bowl system in all of its tradition and glory doesn’t need to be messed with. For any team winning six games or more, they can still compete for bragging rights and maybe a slight edge in off season recruiting. Corporate sponsors can still name their bowls, like the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, or the Capital One Bowl. You can still watch bowl games on TV or online, like with a bundle through None of that has to change. A larger playoff and the traditional bowl system can live in peace together in college football. Time permits it in the semester and the season doesn’t extend endlessly as critics would have you believe. Only a few teams will play a few more games.

And I don’t want to hear anything about how college football can’t change for tradition’s sake. Are you kidding me? The rules have changed, the conferences have changed, the bowls have changed, the rules have changed again, the conferences have changed some more, the polls and rankings have changed and plenty of other things have evolved as needs be. Look at the BCS for crying out loud! It changed the whole system! College football is no stranger to change, so don’t pretend it is. The playoff system proposed here would not change the regular season at all anyway; it’s only the postseason that changes here, and just slightly. The bowl games are untouched and the timeline of the season stays as is. This works to everyone’s benefit.

And now that we have a four team playoff, the only thing this does is creates a fair system for team selection. The committee will only have to worry about 3 of the 8 teams (2 at large plus the highest ranked champion outside the Power 5) instead of all of them. Every team sees a clear path to start the season: win your conference.