BCS Playoff System - 7 STEPS TO SUCCESS

Submitted by Bluestreak on December 6th, 2011 at 1:03 AM

So - we have a lot of speculation around how a 'fair system should work'

Here is a formula suggested for a playoff system. It is inspired by the continental European club soccer championship.

EDIT - Changing number of games played to account for revenue, tradition et all.


Each team plays a 10/ 11 game regular season 7 conference games against opponents in its division.


At the end of the 10/11 games - the winners of each division play for the conference title. Nothin much has changed so far


In the national playoff system (16 teams) - each conference champion gets an automatic in. This means 11 automatic bids of the 16 teams (Independents will get slotted into the playoffs). The number of bids for a single conference shall not exceed 3. If a conference is consistently performing weakly in the playoffs - it may have to play an additional game instead of an auto bid, The slot thus vacated becomes an auto-bid for another conference or an additional at-large slot.

Example - If the C-USA last never won any playoff game in the past 5 seasons and the B12 runner up has consistently sent teams to the at -large for the past 5 seasons - B12 may earn a second auto-bid. Or if no clear conference winner emerges then the C-USA autobid now becomes at at-large bid. C-USA will still be able to qualify using the at-large qualification route.

Based on strength of conference, better conferences may get an automatic second bid for the runner up. So, B1G, PAC12, SEC would likely get 2 auto bids. Smaller conference runner ups may play for an at-large bid along with independents.

So - now we have 11 autobid - first placed teams, 3 auto bid - second place teams, and 2 at large bids for independents and other second placed conference teams at initiation.

At large eligibility

1) Conference Champion of no autobid conference


2) Runner up of eligible conference

The highest ranked teams of eligible teams in the BCS poll will get the right to play for at-large playoff places.

Example - If 2 at-large bids are available - the top 4 ranked teams such that they are not in the playoffs through an autobid and champion/ runner up of a conference. In single matched, top ranked team plays lowest ranked team for booking a place in the playoff.

Higher ranked team plays the game at home


Teams will be seeded according to their BCS rankings at the end of the regular season.

Pairings - Pairings are made such that the top 8 ranked teams in the playoffs do not play each other in the initial round.

The top 8 ranked teams get selected from a pool (called Champions) and bottom teams get selected from a pool (called Contenders).

Same conference teams do not play each other in the initial round even if a matchup is possible. This ensures no Championship game rematch is possible in the first round. Subsequent rounds may however force this. Example - Michigan is ranked 4 and Iowa is ranked 15 - they may not draw each other even though they may be eligible to play each other

Teams in Champions pool play their games at home.


At this stage all teams should have played 8 or 9 games. In rare cases it may be 10 games if a team lost the Championship game, played in a qualifying round and became eligible for an at-large bid.

The winning 8 teams participate in 4 bowl games at their historic locations. Bowl games are now decided through a draw, where a each bowl pickss teams in a pre-determined order in a draft system. They may/ may not agree to keep the traditional conference tie-ins.


The winners of the four bowl games will proceed to the Winner's Circle. Here the four will be randomly paired to play in two Grand Bowls for a chance to compete in the NCG. Grand Bowl locations can be either rotating around the country in an NFL stadium or one of the existing bowl locations.

STEP 7 - NCG Game

The winner of the 2 Grand Bowls will have the right to play in the NCG.


Long but fair I suppose.


Hardware Sushi

December 6th, 2011 at 2:18 AM ^

The format is interesting.

Not trying to be a dick but I was lost at step 1. How does a team play 7 intra-divisional games?

Does this assume 16-team conferences?

Also, what happens to all the teams playing 7 games and no playoffs...or first round losers? I feel like any plan must have equal/MOAR total games.


December 6th, 2011 at 2:30 AM ^

Consider the B1G

1) Seven is probably a tad too low - 8 maybe?

Consider the B1G

You'll play 5 same division opponents and 2/3 rotating non-division/ conference opponents.

The idea is that you don't want to play like 15 games to become NCG - ultimately these are student atheletes.


For all those who didn't make the playoffs - they play the usual conference bowl games for winning seasons.

Alternatively, you have a 'Cupcakes playoff' in the same format - for a 'Best of the Rest' championship game for teams ranked 20 - 40. It ensures that most top 50 teams (most teams which are relevant) play at least 10 games.


December 6th, 2011 at 2:24 AM ^

All of these playoff proposals are cute, but I have a better chance of banging Jenifer Aniston these playoffs coming true.

If you are going to propose a system, at least propose a system that is somewhat grounded in reality. The system you have proposed is a pure fantasy.

Any system that has any chance of replacing the current system must do one thing - produce at least a comparable revenue to what each school is generating right now. Why would anyone in their right mind agree to make less money???

In this system, Michigan would play 7 div games total. We played more home games than that this year!!! Why would we voluntarily give up multi-million dollars? Ha!

Do you seriously believe playoff money would cover that? I don't see how that is possible. Let's say each game produces twice the revenue than the current top bowls. The total revenue generated by 15 playoff games will not match the current revenue generated by the numerous bowls. Hell, B1G is sending 10 teams to the bowl this year. How are you going to makr that up and lost regular season money when you have to share the playoff money among all conferences?

If you believe Brandon or any other big revenue generating school will accept that deal, you are beyond naive.


December 6th, 2011 at 2:46 AM ^

I understand your point but you don't have to be a dick to prove it.

If you think number of games played is an issue, play the full regular season under current format (maybe a game less) and then the playoff. However, I'd think that that maybe too many games in the season.

Maybe restrict regular season to 10 games?


December 6th, 2011 at 3:36 AM ^

If you don't want to be criticized, stop posting stuff on the Internet.

If I sound harsh, it is because I am sick and tired of people proposing one playoff scheme after another, making it appear as though the only reason why we don't have a playoffs today is because we don't have a good enough playoff format.

And this coulnd't be further from the truth.

The reason why we don't have playoffs today is because there are two distinct groups of decision makers that must approve any changes to the current system, and appeasing both is almost impossible.

The first group is the university presidents. These people want at least the facade of student/athletes. Any new schema that increases the number of days that these athletes must spend away from classes is going to be opposed severely.

The second group is the AD and conf commissioners. Their main objectives is to bring in as much money as possible for their institutions.Any system that produces less money for them, especially top conf/schools is dead on arrival.

We do not have playoffs today because it is almost impossible to satisfy both of these groups. And none of the "solutions" bandied about addresses this issue. Which makes all of these "ideas" nothing but fantasies.

Let me put it in another way. You guys are all suggesting that we design better electric cars to get rid of old gas guzzlers. But no matter how cool your car design is, if it does not have better range, charge faster, and cost less than the old gas guzzler it is just not going to become mainstream. So stop trying to build cooler cars and start addressing more fundamental issues.


December 6th, 2011 at 2:57 AM ^

Ignoring the points about revenue, I have some functional questions:

-If you don't win your division, you'd only play 7-8 games?

-When would we play Ohio? It sounds like mid-October by this proposal

Are OOC games a thing of the past? So every independent has to get into a conference? That doesn't seem fair - you may as well blow conferences up altogether and organize the 120 FBS playing schools however you'd like. Also, doesn't this get rid of the SEC East-ACC challenge every Thanksgiving?

I think to be realistic, any playoff proposal has to fit a few cnstraints - it can't start until December, and you can't F with tradition quite as much as this does. I know the bowls are a tradition that don't make much sense, and a playoff could bring in more money, and this isn't about the money, and when administrators say "tradition" they really are masking another motive, and so forth. But when you're talking about messing with rivalry games, you're talking about messing with a money-making tradition. No fans or administrators are going to go for that.


December 6th, 2011 at 3:03 AM ^

Reducing one cupcake game won't make a difference.

Maybe keep the regular and then start the playoff system. I just worry about student atheletes having to play 15 games to get to the NCG.

With regards to independents - I personally don't like the idea of having independents but if they choose to be so - they won't get an autobid in the playoff, they'll have to qualify the hard way.


December 6th, 2011 at 3:30 AM ^

And I agree about trying to limit the number of games - currently, most of the teams are playing 13 games before a national title - and that's over 14 weeks. Including the national title game, they play 13/14 games over 18 weeks. Other bowl teams do the same in about 16 weeks. Under your system, it wouldn't be too much worse depending on how the scheduling of the season went. I'm thinking it'd total about 15 games over 18 weeks.

And while I'm not for a playoff, before we start talking about how that extra game is detrimental to student-athletes, let's not forget that these administrators added the twelfth regular season game in the last decade, and mainly just to add revenue. If they added one then, they wouldn't have a problem adding one in a playoff if the money is right.


December 6th, 2011 at 7:04 AM ^

of this type is wrong.  The conference champion could have a losing record, ie 2011 UCLA.  It is possible for the winner of a division to have a losing record and get lucky in the title game.

Is that what we want?  A playolff system that has teams with losing records?  Playoff proponents think the if we have each conference send its champion thenwe will have the best teams in America.

WRONG, we will have the luckiest teams in America.  I wish those that want a playoff actually sit down and think about it for 5 minutes.  After some critical thinking, it is easy to see that a true playoff system will never work.


December 7th, 2011 at 12:11 AM ^

that consistantly win, statistically are better than those who lose.  In statistics, luck (or more technical term: random chance), is isolated by teams playing each other.  So teams that play in conferences with divisions typically play each other.  A leader will emerge.

If a team gets "lucky" against a random opponent cannot continue to get "lucky" through out a season.  That team is "good" and deserves to win.

So in the case of UCLA, they are a bad team.  Oregon is a good team.  There is no comparison.  Statiscally (Saragin rating), Oregon is the better team week in and week out.  However, if it comes down to 1 game, luck has a larger role.  Thus the luckiest team is the winner, not the best team.

In the case of LSU/Alabama, luck has a role as well.  However, these teams are fairly evenly matched.  If there was a playoff and UCLA was in the final game against LSU, luck could strike and thus we could have a NC with a losing record. 

Do we want that?  No.  We want the best two teams playing in the NC.  That is what we have with the BCS.  People bitch about it but its better than a playoff.



December 6th, 2011 at 10:36 PM ^

But this system is atleast fair.

Why fair - because if you are not the champion of your conference - you sure aren't good enough for the national championship game.

It gives a team in every conference a chance to become the National Champion. In the current BCS system - it is almost impossible for a MW/ MAC team to get to the NCG.


December 6th, 2011 at 9:48 AM ^

going to have 11 auto-qualifyers, you can't have a 'if this conference hasn't won a playoff game in X years' rule because how can you hold what other teams have done against the current one?

so because ohio can't win a bcs championship, michigan shouldn't have the chance?


December 6th, 2011 at 10:40 PM ^

Each win in a playoff/ playoff qualifier earns a conference points to determine their strength.

So the deeper into the playoff a conference makes it year after year - the more strength your conference has.

If eligible teams from a conference routinely go out in the first playoff game they play - they are clearly out of their league and their future chance of getting a playoff berth are reduced accordingly. Similarly, conferences which do well consistently in the playoffs in the past 3/5 years are rewarded with the possibility of fielding more teams in the playoffs or increasing the chances that their team makes it into the playoffs.


December 6th, 2011 at 10:14 AM ^

If you organize the playoff correctly, the round of 16 can include conference championship games, while non-AQ conference champions and indies can have a play-in round on conference championship day.  

Seedings for the non-AQ games could be determined by a committee, like the NCAA does, with a reseeding to a "main draw" after conference championship weekend.  The round of eight could be at the stadiums of the highest-seeded teams, as would the play-ins.  

There would have to be an exception for a team like Bama, or maybe any top eight team, but letting this many teams in would only take an extra week out of the season, and everyone with a legitimate chance to win would usually get in.  

If the basketball tournament is any indication, the winner will almost always come from the top eight anyway, so nobody will really have much reason to complain.  If a crap team like CUSA gets in by winning a terrible conference with a mediocre record, great.  Let them play a road game against the number one seed the following week.  

It isn't perfect, but it's a lot better than the sham-pionship game we have now. 



December 7th, 2011 at 8:56 AM ^

you say it's not perfect so why change it to this ? If there is a major change it better be a perfect change, whats the point changing to another flawed system ? I say we don't change anything at all, I don't see what is wrong with the system we have.

Mr Miggle

December 6th, 2011 at 11:31 AM ^

You're replacing 300 games with 15 playoff games. Doesn't that seem like you're placing waaaaay too much significance on the playoffs? Even with your edits, I don't think you get that.


December 6th, 2011 at 1:50 PM ^

Interesting article on ESPN http://sports.espn.go.com/dallas/nba/news/story?id=5924399

Mark Cuban was tossing the idea of getting in the middle of college football (in case you didn't want to read it).  Yes it is from last December, but I believe we will see this more and more.  It all comes down to a few key factors.

College football has some great rivalries.  These rivalries are not limited to just conferences.  Any plan that limits or eliminates rivalries will get friction.  Fans want to see these games and schools love the revenue.

The season starts at the beginning of September and ends at the end of November.  Conference championship games have extended this into December.  This gives you 14 weeks in which to determine seedings for any playoff system.  Any plan that shortens or lengthens the season as it currently is will get friction.  Student athletes are protected from over-exposure by their respective schools and administration.  Athletic directors are restricted to budgets and can't afford to give up any revenue.

Small schools count on being included in the schedules of large schools.  This is a great way for them to generate revenue that they cannot currently raise in their own facilities.  This is tied directly to the point above.  Excluding any of these games hurts the small schools.  Any plan that takes any revenue away from small schools will get friction.


Any serious proposal will be based in these realities.  Everyone needs a chance at making at least the same amount of money that they do now, or there is no point in changing the system.  Plus One is getting a lot of talk, because that would solve the controversy that is the BCS National Championship Game right now.  It is easy to look at the rankings and say LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma St., and Stanford are the top 4 teams.  Sure #5 Oregon could complain, but they have 2 losses.  Same with #6 Arkansas, 2 losses.  Last year would have been a hornet's nest.  Sure you had Auburn, Oregon, and TCU at 1, 2, and 3 respectively, and all undefeated, but number 4 was either a 1 loss Wisconsin or a 1 loss Stanford depending on which poll you looked at (Ohio St. was hanging out at #6 with 1 loss as well).  Someone is always going to be mad with any system, I guess, but the solution for this year is not the solution for every year.  With that said, I am in agreement with someone above me who said that Plus One will be first because it is easy and only adds 1 game.  After that, they will probably ease into 8 teams.  Any system that talks about 16 teams dilutes the pool and stretches the season too long.


December 7th, 2011 at 1:52 AM ^

Here's my easy six-step master plan to institute a playoff system in NCAA division one football:

(1). Wait for the BCS television contracts to expire.

(2). Watch as the BCS bemoans the flat return when the networks decline to increase, or even decrease, the amount they are willing to pay for the television rights.

(3). Burst into the meeting room between the BCS and network execs carrying a sheet of college rule notebook paper hastily torn out of your spiral notebook with clumsily written, yet legible, 8 team bracket-bowl proposal, with elevated ratings projections. And a picture of a liger. Because ligers are awesome, being part lion and part tiger.

(4) Ask the network execs how much they'd be willing to pay for broadcast rights to your proposal.

(5). Turn to the BCS execs and angrily tell them to stop playing Angry Birds on their iPhones and to pay attention because this is important and concerns them. Then patiently turn back to the network execs and ask them to kindly repeat the figure, now that the BCS is not distracted and paying attention. Glare angrily at the BCS while you're saying this last part.

(6). Go home and start blogging to everyone about how you saved College Football. You're so cool!

Enjoy the playoffs!