The BCS and its Alternatives

Submitted by Eye of the Tiger on December 7th, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Turn on ESPN, or look at basically any media outlet that covers college football, and you'll find someone railing against the current BCS system.  And with good reason.  Brian has his well-reasoned alternative here.  Today, Andy Staples informed us that the athletic directors of the Big 12 conference, fresh off Oklahoma State's BCS snub in favor of a regional contest between teams that already played each other, have tentatively backed the idea of a seeded 4-team tournament:

Monday, Big 12 athletic directors voted in a straw poll to get behind the idea of a plus-one format that would allow four teams to compete for the national title. Such a format would have allowed USC to play for the national title in 2003, Auburn to play for it in 2004, Texas to play for it in 2008 and Oklahoma State -- which finished behind No. 2 Alabama by the slimmest of margins in the BCS standings -- to play for the title this season. If the league's presidents choose to agree with their athletic directors, the Big 12's support would be a huge step forward. The Big 12 was one of several leagues that blocked SEC commissioner Mike Slive's 2008 proposal for a four-team, seeded tournament. The ACC was the only conference that supported the plan.

Then he goes on to say that the Big 10 is the lone holdout:

From their standpoint, that is the sensible position. That's why the Big Ten will likely offer the most resistance to any plus-one plan if it gets proposed prior to the next BCS annual meeting in April. Commissioner Jim Delany is a master at getting his colleagues to agree to do what is best for the Big Ten, and the Big Ten is better off without a playoff. Because the league contains huge schools with passionate fan bases, the old bowl system actually is the most advantageous for the Big Ten.

Then there's a bunch of "well we don't really know how it would work" stuff that demonstrates how far off this idea still is from becoming reality.  


The problems at hand:

The sticking points are, according to Staples:

1. Resistance from the Big 10 ADs and from school presidents generally, who don't want to extend the season further into January and who like the bowl-system 

2. Resistance from TV networks, who like the bowl-system

This is only part of the problem.  Other issues he doesn't bring up include:

3. A tendency in American sports to keep expanding and expanding tournament brackets.  Look at the NBA, NFL, MLB and even NCAAB.  Anyone who thinks that this would end at 4, or even at 6, is kidding themselves.  Once the cat's out of the bag, it's only a matter of time before it becomes 8, then 16, then 32.  

4. NCAA football is unique in the sense that every single game matters absolutely.  The more postseason play you have, the more watered down this becomes.  This, in turn, could reduce interest in regular-season play, a la March Madness.*  

These are, in my opinion, the underlying reasons why school presidents and ADs are opposed to a playoff.  Unlike basketball or baseball, football is extremely physically taxing, and requires massive hours of practice, conditioning and preparation.  It causes lots of injuries, and takes a lot of time away from schooling just to get ready for a single game.  But the ADs and presidents were all okay with adding a 12th game, you say?  Yes that's true, and it's a bit hypocritical. But that's where we are with the people pulling the trigger on this thing.  


What an alternative to the BCS would have to look like:

Any viable alternative to the BCS, and by viable I mean palatable to ADs and school presidents, needs to do the following things:

1. Preserve the bowl system

2. Not extend the season far beyond its already extended point

3. Not threaten to engulf the regular season by morphing into an actual tournament


So what are the alternatives?

1. A "+1"

Go back to the old way of picking bowl participants (thus satisfying the Big 10 and Pac 12), and then have a game at the end pitting #1 against #2.  

LIKELIHOOD: Low.  This appeals to me, as someone who's always liked the ideosyncracies and old traditions of college football.  But there's a lot of path dependency going on here, and I don't know if the NCAA would ditch the BCS selection process entirely at this point.

2. A pseudo "+1"

Keep the BCS, but instead of having a #1 vs. #2 game, have the BCS bowls all pick by lots, then schedule #1 vs. #2

LIKELIHOOD: High.  I don't think this completely solves the selection issue, but it does sidestep the potential tournament problems that seem to be a sticking point.  This would, at least, give the NCAA a decade of breathing space before the pitchforks and torches get too numerous to ignore...just like the BCS did.  

3. A 4-team tournament

Have two bowls choose the top 4 teams, seeded, and then have the +1

LIKELIHOOD: Fair.  This does solve the selection problem, but opens the door to more expansion, which I believe to be the ultimate fear of the ADs and school presidents who are backing the BCS.  Still, it's not impossible given this year's BCS catastrophe.  

4. A 6+ team tournament.

At least 6 seeded teams playing each other.  

LIKEIHOOD: Low.  Brian's suggestion is sensible and would make for good drama, but it potentially suggests 2+ games to the end of the season.  The only way this becomes reality in the short-term is if ADs and school presidents agree to shorten the regular season, which ain't gonna happen.  

5. Keep the current crappy system with some new window dressing to make it look, to its architects if to no one else, as if something has changed.

All Hail the BCS and its Opaque and Frustrating Selection Process.

LIKELIHOOD: Very High.  Institutions are incredibly conservative things, and college football is, at base, a collection of autonomous institutions bound together by a host of decentralized institutions (conferences) loosely bound under an umbrella association with only limited authority and decision-making power (the NCAA).  The NFL it ain't.  This makes the most conservative solution the most likely, and keeping things mostly as they are = the most conservative solution.  Don't believe me?  Just wait and see...  


Your thoughts:

As per previous diaries, I've just outlined some scenarios and argued why I think they are likely or unlikely.  I'd like to ask all of you the following questions in your comments:

1. Which scenarios do you think are the most and least likely?  Why or why not?  Are there any I missed?

2. What system would actually be best for the sport, and for the student athletes who play it while enrolled full-time in college?


*March Madness has its own uniquely endearing qualities to it: IMO it's the best tournament in American sports.  Not a diss here, but just because it works in one sport doesn't mean it's appropriate or feasible for another.  




December 7th, 2011 at 12:44 PM ^

I still think this is the solution and the most likely.  I think it will just take another Big 10 being snubbed in favor of two other conerences.  Think of the outrage of a undefeated Michigan team not going beause Alabama and Oregon finished undefeated as well.

1.  Preserves the bowls

2.  Extends the season by 1 game (for only 2 teams)

3.  Regular season still incredibly important except for LSU like teams at the end.

 I think what everyone forgets is that that BCS and the bowls aren't  owned by the NCAA.  They are sanctioned, or approved by them.  Just think of the crystal trophy a football team gets, compared to the  NCAA plaque trophy every other sport gets.  Heck Bowl game stats weren't even consider in official NCAA stats until a few years ago.

So the NCAA and conferences can protect themselves from the extra 8 to 16 team tourney, which I agree would becoming down the road and would be terrible.

NCAA can put in the by laws no  football student athlete can play more than 15 games per year/season.  Put it writing and almost in whatever consitutional/bill of rights format the NCAA has.  Put it in Al Gore's lock box and throw it in Mordor protected by Medusa.

Now the flaws are that the Semifinal bowls may have ticket selling problems.  Some fans may say "Well, I'll save my money for the potential Final game," or that the final game may be tough to sell in only a week without known participants

I think you sell/promote  the title game like the Super bowl. Unfortunately, you won't get real fans there, which sucks.  But forces fans to say.."No way I can afford the College Super Bowl, I'm not missing the Sugar bowl "semifinal"


December 7th, 2011 at 1:00 PM ^

.....hesitance to at least go to a +1 type format. For example, this particular year could have ended with Wisconsin in nearly the same type of boat as OkSt. is now if they had won at MSU instead of losing. Wisconsin was ranked #4 at that point and would have moved up to #3 for the next week, possibly even garnering more than the 1 first place vote they had up to that point. The following week, assuming the loss to Ohio still stood, would have had them losing to a team that eventually ended the season at 6-6.

At the end of the season, Wisconsin possibly would have moved back into the top five and very likely back up to the top three or four with only one loss but a conference championship, a thorough beating of Nebraska and a whipping of PSU by 22 MORE points than Bama beat PSU by, yet, Wisconsin still would have been left out of the BCS MNC picture.

A +1 format then would have included them in the discussion for one of the four spots available.

Does the B1G not see how this would be beneficial to the conference? Not to mention the added revenue garnered if a B1G team, in the +1 scenario, actually won it's first game and got a second one, this time in the MNC game? If money is the driving factor for the BCS, bowl-season, and the entire season itself, a +1 format makes more sense than the current fiasco which has resulted in an MNC game that 70%(ESPN poll) did not want to see and that will result in a very controversial champion if Bama wins.


December 7th, 2011 at 1:31 PM ^ the above, and referencing the OP's "Problems at hand #4", of the desire to keep increasing the number of postseason eligibles, a requirement could be adopted that states that the 6 BCS AQ conferences(plus ND if so inclined) have the option after every four years to vote on increasing participation in it. The likelihood of a vote ever being cast to increase from 4 teams to 8, or 12, or 16, or whatever is very, very low. I state this because the most recent MNC four team participant's conferences will likely vote no(for this year that would be the SEC, B12 and P12) along with the B1G almost every time it came up for a vote. The only votes for an increase, every time it came up would be the BE and possibly ND(I don't see them getting to the top four in the BCS standings anytime soon, although they may reach somewhere just inside the top ten at some point).

And make it so that unless a vote in favor of expansion is rendered, then the format will never increase unless the whole BCS is done away with(which seems highly unlikely at this point).

And, as an added stipulation, institute a requirement for inclusion into the +1 for any team winning it's conference, going unbeaten, and ranked within the top eight. The first team in the top four that gets knocked out of the included teams is a non-conference champion ranked in the top four. The next would be the lowest ranked conference champion with one or more losses.

So, for example, if the B1G, SEC, B12, and P12 champs all went unbeaten, and were ranked in the top four, no non-AQ school would be included. However, for this year, assuming Houston had won it's last game, they would still have been ranked outside the top four most likely, but would have taken Stanford's place in the four included teams. As an addition, if BoiseSt. had taken care of business against TCU, and had also been unbeaten, they probably would have been in the top four anyway, and the non-conference champion ranked in the top four would have been Bama, who would have been knocked out of the format's four team inclusion by Houston.

This also has the added benefit of rewarding those AQ schools who aren't ranked highly preseason but play an outstanding season and end up unbeaten but not ranked in the top four at the end of the season. Cincinnati almost had that distinction for the 2009 season, only making it into the top four due to Florida's loss in the SEC champ game. They easily could have still been at #5 behind Florida if Florida had played a close game vs. Bama.



December 7th, 2011 at 1:15 PM ^

This is the most sensible post on BCS topic. Good work.

The only thing I would change is to modify the selection process. Get rid of Harris and Coaches Poll and replace it with a 12 member selection committee for #1 and #2. They can use whatever computer polls they want to help assist with their selections.

I don't think 4 team tourney solves anything. This year that would have meant #4 Stanford playing over Oregon who absolutely DESTROYED Stanford just because Oregon schedule included the #1 team this year. It will just encourage even more teams to schedule nothing but patsies for pre-conf.


December 7th, 2011 at 1:44 PM ^

.......problem with an inclusion of Stanford in the mix for this year. The thing is that for most years this wouldn't be an issue at all. There will always be arguments, no matter what system is in place. But I'd rather the argument be over who gets included last in the +1 format, and most likely a team that loses first round anyway, than in the current format over a highly debateable "who's #2" discussion like this year.

And, Oregon wouldn't have much to complain about, having lost to USC, a team that Stanford beat. There argument would fall close to MSU's whine this year about beating us but being left out of the BCS picture. Yes, they beat us, but they also got beat badly by two teams that ended up beating, including one that we hammered. So, there argument would be countered by "take care of business and you wouldn't be in that position". 


December 7th, 2011 at 2:45 PM ^

One solution to the Stanford/Oregon problem is a rule that a team that did not win it's conference is ineligible unless the conference champion is also invited. So this year, Alabama can get in, but Stanford is ineligible because Oregon is not in. That way you don't exclude cases where the 2nd place team in a conference is out if they are obviously still worthy (Alabama, Michigan 2006) but a team that did not win its conference cannot get in over a team that beat them in-conference.  


December 8th, 2011 at 12:17 AM ^

.....with Sambojingles requirements, but not mine. Using what I would suggest, and assuming then that Georgia had won, LSU and Bama would both have been still ranked in the top four. Now, assuming the rest of the games had played out like they actually did, my guess is that the top four would have been Bama, OSU, LSU, Stanford. Not a bad inclusion of teams in a +1 format for this year. Yes Stanford would be included over Oregon, however, Stanford only has the one loss and a win over a team that beat Oregon and Oregon has a loss against one of those teams that would be included. And as I stated to him above, I'd much rather the argument be over who's the fourth team in rather than who's the #2 team to be included. A +1 format like I suggest would have eliminated completely the main argument between those who believe Alabama should be in and those who believe OSU should be in. They would settle it on the field for the right to play LSU(most likely winner between them and Stanford).


December 7th, 2011 at 1:33 PM ^

I am on a mission to do away with the BCS aka the SEC Ponzi Scheme. Your help and support is appreciated. If you have a problem with it, please don't watch it and tell anothers. I can't support a system like that. If no one whatches, the revenue won't be there and they will have to change to get viewers. let's force their hand.


December 7th, 2011 at 1:39 PM ^

without extending the season AT ALL.


The top 6 BCS teams make up a bracket of 6, with 1 & 2 seeds getting a bye. Same 2 team per conference rule, no playing a conference foe in first round (unless teams did not meet in regular season or CCG).




December 3, 2011 - Conf Title Games

December 4, 2011 - Bowls decided (excluding top 6, which go into brackets)

December 10, 2011 - #5 Oregon @ #3 Ok St & #7 Boise State @ #4 Stanford
(because of #6 Arkansas not eliglble and Oregon not playing Stanford)

December 17, 2011 - Winners play @ #1 LSU & #2 Alabama

December 18-January 8 - Bowls occur as usual

January 9, 2012 - BCS Title game with winners from December 17




December 7th, 2011 at 2:04 PM ^

Seeing their PR blather about why we have a lousy post-season structure makes my eyes hurt.

Here is reality:

They'd have a 8 or 16 team tournament in a heartbeat if they could limit it to just the Big power conference teams: SEC, Big Ten, Big Twelve, Pac 10, maybe ACC and Big East. The money they'd make would be huge. They know it and they want it.  The Bowl System itself actually craps on the participating schools in too many ways to count.  Why not just  let it survive or die on it's own merits? It's draining money from cash-strapped schools that could use it to support non revenue sports.  

Worrying about preserving it is pointless double speak to filibuster the real issue: why football doesn't have a real postseason, like football at other levels, and every other NCAA sport? The answer is Big Conference Greed and their fear of being sued if they try to expand that greed.

The dirty little secret here is the BCS conferences in the cartel would poop on the bowls and call it lunch delivery if they could have their own playoff structure with only the Big 6 conferences.

Ask yourself this, if the BCS is so great and doing such a good job, why are their trying to adjust it? Here's where people get tripped up. It's not fairness. It's money. Networks are calling bs on paying huge rights fees for these bcs games that everyone knows mean nothing, just so they can show the 1 game that does: the title game. This has the cartel scurrying around trying to create more interest in a dud post season system.  

Hence, the talk about expansion and plus 1 and all that jazz.

The BCS in it's current state is a financial failure overall.  Not because they don't make money, but because they make way less than they could.   It is also a legal dynamite stick in a volcano. They expand it, they have to include paths for every Division 1 school to participate and participate in the increased revenue. They barely do that now (it is fair to say that they really don't) and the fact is there is an ongoing anti-trust lawsuit against  the BCS because of it.

Expansion isn't being blocked because they care about student athletes, or the bowls, or any of that. It is being blocked because the cartel doesn't have a safe way to expand this thing and maintain their monopoly over the post season, while still avoid getting sued. They want to expand, not for fairness, but for money. 

An NCAA wide tournament structure with maybe 16 teams would make everyone fat and turn December into an amazing month of college football.  Most of these bowls would still survive (and maybe thrive if they would stop raping every school that participates with ticket guarantees and fees.)

One more thing, the every game counts argument is total trash. Look no further than the Alabama and LSU rematch. That first game obviously meant nothing in this system. Having an actual tournament structure would have made dozens if not well over 100 games during the season far more meaningful then they were. You could take games from just the last 2 weekends of the season and find almost 15 games that would have had direct impact on a tournament structure. That's way more than the 2 or 3 that actually mattered under the current system.

You did a good job showing the possibilities, but the reason for the hesitancy is only really about two things: the big conference cartel controlling the post season pie, and expanding it without having to share it.  


December 7th, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

I've felt this way long before this year's travesty.  I would like to see only conference champions included.  Then every game in the conference season is extremely important... more so than now.  Starting at the conference games, the season is basically one large tournament.  The conference championships are essentially the first round of the playoffs.  MSU, for winning their half of the big ten, would be rewarded by playing Wisconsin in the B1G championship game, which is essentially the first round of the national tournament.

As for specifics... there are many conferences, and we probably don't want them all in the tourney.  Perhaps you only take the top 4 (or 6 or 8) conference champions based on BCS rankings.  Seed them based on BCS rankings.  Higher seed hosts early rounds.

As for the games before the conference season, they are less important in this setup, but will be more entertaining.  We are more likely to see more Michigan/Alabama matchups because a loss won't exclude either from the national title race.  They will also still factor into BCS standings, which may matter in the end.


Red is Blue

December 7th, 2011 at 9:40 PM ^

What about independents?

I like the focus on conference champions as it reduces the incentive for OOC cupcakes.  However, when you select the four highest ranked conference champs, the incentive to play OOC cupcakes is added back in.  Maybe the solution is to come up with a measure of how strong a conference is with the conference champs from the 3 strongest conferences getting in with the forth spot available as a wild card (the highest ranked team, the highest ranked conference champ or independent not from one of the 3 strongest conferences...).





December 7th, 2011 at 2:49 PM ^

You really need to read death to the BCS.   I don't think a lot of your points hold up.   You enjoy the bowl system and the traditions of college football and that is fine, but I ask you if you like the bowls and tradition how do you feel about the ticket bowl?   Bowl?  I guess.   Tradition?  NO.    

Counters to a couple of your points which I think you've learned over the years from anti playoff arguments that don't hold water.

-TV is not against a playoff.  Nearly everyone I have ever heard talk on the subject says more money for a playoff contract.

-Extending the season?   All the lower divisions of football who have a greater % of serious students and not nearly the chances at NFL riches play in 16 team tournaments.  No one cares about the kids on this point.

-Saying that every game matters in college football right now is an absolute lie.  Did the Oklahoma-Oklahoma St game matter?   It was on during the Big 10 champ gam and was an after thought.  The outcome of that game meant nothing.   Most of the experts agreed that the SEC championship game was meaningless and LSU was in the champ game regardless.  How does this idiotic system make things more meaningful?   I can't stand this argument.  Brian's plan makes so many more games meaningful it is not even close.

-Kids?  I think most kids are competitors.  Competitors like to play in big games and like things to be determined by their play. They are 20yrs old.   You think the kids on Michigan would rather play Oklahoma St in a playoff game or wait around for their bowl game?

The only reasonable point in all this is watering down the season.  A 32 or 64 team tournament would ruin the regular season, but it is also not reasonable given football's structure. It will never happen because it is too big.     Brian's plan addresses all of your concerns but somehow people ignore it.  

I don't get it.



December 7th, 2011 at 2:58 PM ^

why can't we have an 8 team playoff?   Cut out one of the crappy OOC games or even the conf. championship because that game means nothing and have a playoff.

Top eight teams make the playoff at the end of the regular season.

Highest seed gets the home game for the two rounds.

after the playoff the final two go to the championship game and everyone else fills the bowls.  

How fucking hard is it?  fuck the plus one.


December 7th, 2011 at 5:27 PM ^

Ummm... because people like money???

Those "crappy" OOC games are bringing in mucho dollars to program like ours. Much more than the sliver of a share that additional playoff games will bring.

People have tendency to prefer things where they make more money. That is what makes it hard.


December 7th, 2011 at 3:19 PM ^

The utter fallacy is that with the current iteration of the BCS is that every game counts and a playoff would both destroy the regular season and destroy the traditional bowls.  

99.9% of all bowl games have nothing to do potential national championship teams and would not be impacted by some form of a playoff or a +1 system.  And its been blatantly proved this year that not every game counts.  One top 5 team beat a top 10 team in convincing fashion on the last weekend of the year and it meant NOTHING.  Another top 2 team did not play yet went up in a few of the rankings.   And even worse is that you have coaches (who have skin in the game and can't even watch 99% of the games) and idiots like the guy below helping to pick the 2 teams, which just further prove that not every game counts.  Judging by his statement, he never would've put Okla St. above Alabama no matter what happened.

“I could have voted for either and slept well, but I voted for Alabama because they are more physical than Oklahoma State,” said Gil Brandt, a Harris poll voter, a former N.F.L. executive and an analyst with “The test was if the teams met on a neutral field, who would win? Alabama would win. I don’t know that many people have physical players like Alabama and L.S.U.

“Think back to when Ohio State and Michigan had those great teams. They didn’t have quarterbacks with big numbers; they ran the ball. Last year, Oklahoma threw the ball 617 times, but if you look at the Orange Bowls and Sugar Bowls Oklahoma played in in the ’70s and ’80s, that’s maybe eight games, they threw the ball 100 times. Total.”



They need to do a few things but if they keep the BCS intact they need to move away from the coaches poll and at least do something like have a selection committee that is answerable to the public and has some basis behind their selection.  Otherwise, you'll have ESPN and CBS continue to pimp their views and shade the argument to only consider points that support their predispostion (Alabama lost in overtime to the number 1 team because they missed FGs!!!!! So they have to be the number 2 team!).

If you move to a +1 and make no other changes, the regular season will still matter just as much as it does now.  And it wouldn't take any more time of the year.  The MNC is being played what, January 9th?   How about you not spread the BCS bowls over an entire week, get it all done on Jan 1st or 2nd and then have the final game on Jan 9th, before most schools even start their semester!!!   There, no additional time lost. 


December 7th, 2011 at 4:06 PM ^ one of the reasons that the format to determine the MNC needs to change. How exactly does he "know" Alabama would win between them and OSU? His "eyeball" test of which team looks more physical? Apparently he didn't actually watch the OSU/OU game. OSU physically dominated OU on offense, on defense, and on special teams play.

Bama has a "big" OOC win against PSU. Big eff'n deal. Wisconsin beat PSU by 22 more points than Bama did, and allowed less points as well. If an "eyeball" test meant anything in this particular instance, then one would have to conclude that Wisconsin is better than Alabama. Are they? Not likely but since they won't get a chance to play then no one can know for certain, can they?

The whole problem that people against this #1 vs. #2 matchup have is that they've already played, and Alabama LOST at home. Take that game to LSU, or even a neutral field(THAT game, not the one to be played, as the circumstances, situation, and team mindset is completely different) and apply the typical homefield advantage and Alabama gets beat worse, IMO.

So, since OSU hasn't played LSU yet, no one really knows what would happen in that game. The SEC as a whole(meaning LSU/Bama/Arky included) could be weaker than perceived. Of course, it would also mean that Oregon and the P12 is weaker than perceived, since LSU beat them handily. The B12 could very well be the best in the country with the top B12 teams being head and shoulders above the top of the SEC. And we won't ever know.

I do think LSU, for their season so far has looked like the top team. But the #2 team is highly debateable.


December 7th, 2011 at 5:58 PM ^

I would like to see an eight-team playoff system with the schools chosen based on the following criteria:

1.  The conference champions of the ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac 12 and SEC get autobids to the playoff provided they are in the top 15 of the rating system utilized to seed the teams.

2.  The three remaining bids go to the three highest teams in the rating system utilized who are not covered in (1) above.

3.  If a conference champion or champions from (1) above is not in the top 15, then another at large team will be put in its place.

The Massey Rating website has a page with a composite poll that merges the results from 119 different polls.  For this exercise, we'll use what it shows--see

The games in the first two rounds would be played on the third and fourth Saturdays of December.  The higher rated teams will host the games at their home stadiums.  The championship game will be on the second Saturday of January or some other date if it conflicts with the NFL playoffs--perhaps on a Friday night.

Using the criteria above and the composite poll, here are the games from the first round:

#8 Wisconsin (11-2, Big Ten Champion) at #1 LSU (13-0, SEC Champion)

#5 Oregon (11-2, Pac 12 Champion) at #4 Stanford (11-1, Pac 12 At Large)

#7 Oklahoma (9-3, Big XII At Large) at #2 Alabama (11-1, SEC At Large)

#6 Boise State (11-1, MWC At Large) at #3 Oklahoma State (11-1, Big XII Champion)

Here's a few things to take from this set-up:

1.  There is no ACC team in the playoff because its confernce champion (# 21 Clemson, 10-3) is not rated in the Top 15 and Virginia Tech (#19, 11-2) does not qualify under the second criteria.

2.  USC (#10, 10-2) did not play in the Pac 12 championship game.  If USC had won, then it would have replaced Oregon in the playoffs.  If Oregon had won (instead of beating 6-6 UCLA), then the pollsters might have been inclined to put the Ducks #4 ahead of Stanford and Oregon would have been hosting the first round game.

3.  Given Oklahoma's last game and its performance in the latter part of the season, I think many would be inclined not to give them a berth in a playoff.  Instead of using just a computer poll compilation, this suggests that maybe a committee needs to make the final selections for the playoff.  If Virginia Tech had won the ACC Conference championship, then VATech would have replaced OU.

4.  If the higher rated teams in this setup all won, then the four schools remaining would be the ones mentioned in the Plus One scenario that gets discussed--LSU,  Alabama, Oklahoma State and Stanford.  When looking at these teams, note that two of them did not win their divisions (Alabama and Stanford), one was made conference champion but without a conference championship game (Oklahoma State) and one team won its division and its conference championship game (LSU).  By expanding to eight teams and rewarding conference champions with certain parameters (i.e., must be top 15 in ratings), then it enhances the playoff much more than a Plus One scenario might vis-a-vis the importance of the regular season. 

5.  Teams will decide which is best on the field.  The discussion these past few days about which teams was #2--Alabama or Oklahoma State--would be rendered moot.  If those two teams won their first round games, they'd be deciding which one goes to the national championship game when they played in Tuscaloosa, AL on the fourth Saturday of December.

I would go no higher than eight teams because I would like to keep the bowl system intact.  Adding more teams would cut down on the inventory of very good, name programs that could participate in the major bowl games.  Just for a moment, let's assume that USC was bowl eligibile, had lost to Oregon in the playoffs and could participate in the post-season.  Here's what your major bowl games could look like:

Rose Bowl - #17 Michigan State (10-3) v. #10 USC (10-3).  The Rose Bowl agrees to take the losers of the Big Ten and Pac 12 championship games unless those teams managed to get into the eight-team playoff system.

Fiesta Bowl - #13 Kansas State (10-2) v. #9 Arkansas (10-2).  The Fiesta Bowl keeps its tie in with the Big XII and gets the best SEC available not in a playoff.  In the BCS system this year, this is the matchup for the Cotton Bowl.

Sugar Bowl - #15 Georgia (10-3) v. #11 Michigan (10-2).  The Sugar Bowl takes the loser of the SEC championship game and pairs it up with the next best available program in the Wolverines. 

Orange Bowl - #19 Virginia Tech (10-2) v. #12 South Carolina (10-2).  The Orange Bowl keeps its tie in with the ACC and takes the highest rated team in the conference with the best remaining team from the SEC.  #21 Clemson (10-3) as ACC champion might be a suitable substitute for VaTech, if desired.

All these bowl games would be played on the same dates the are now in the early part of January.  This would put them on dates in the two week window between the semi-final and final game of the playoff, which means these bowls won't necessarily be competing for attention with the playoff games.

I think it's a lot of hooey when I hear the the bowl system would be collapse or be severely downgraded with a playoff system.  All the bowls listed above would be fine when it comes to the three main criteria for any bowl matchup--tourists, tickets and television.  Would they be as "prestigious" as they seem to be now?  Well, that depends on the eye of the beholder and how much money the bowls are willing to pay.  It's obvious the bowl system has taken a hit because of the Sugar Bowl's selections this year, so why pretend to make it something that it isn't?  These are exhibition games between two teams that the bowl organizers think will bring them and their communities the most money and the highest tv ratings possible.

One more thing.  I would like to see the playoff games in the first two rounds at the home stadiums of the higher rated teams for two reasons.  The first is that it ensures maximum attendance and it puts those games in a collegiate atmosphere.  If all the fans of the two teams had to travel on short notice to a bowl/neutral site, then it'd be burdensome on them and it wouldn't ensure a sell out for the game.

The second reason is that it makes the regular season count all that much more.  A team seed 1 thru 4 gets to have at least one home game in the playoffs.  Teams in the top 2 have the opportunity to play both the quarter- and semi-final games at their stadiums.



December 7th, 2011 at 5:58 PM ^

We can boycott but still get to watch the games. I DVR all of the bowl games and start watching them about 45 minutes later, thus fast forwarding all commercials. I do not support any products that have commercials during BCS bowl games. Plain and simple.


December 7th, 2011 at 6:15 PM ^

Since the National Championship game is 8 or 9 days after the January 1st bowl games, I propose a 4 team playoff starting with two major bcs bowls on January 1st. I believe after the top 4 teams in the polls everyone starts being pretenders instead of contenders. So you have 4 major bowls. Select 2 to start the rotation, Rose and Sugar as an example the first year, the Orange and Fiesta the following year. Play your top 4 teams with the winners advancing to the Championship Game the following week. I know students probably can't get to the game and travel would be a bitch but in any playoff that's an issue. All the other bowls can be played and the two bcs bowls not in rotation for the playoff get good matchups with selections below #4.


December 7th, 2011 at 7:03 PM ^

My formula to hopefully solve most problems.  Please critique it!

As Brian suggested, a six team playoff based off BCS rankings.  The BCS formula would be tweaked, removing the Coach's Poll and adding at least one new poll (possibly two).  The Coach's Poll causes problems as the coaches can't watch the games and don't even fill it out, plus the fact that they are bias towards their own opponents.  Adding the AP poll would be the most obvious but if they chose to stay separate, I don't know who you'd add.

With this playoff, there would be stipulations:

  • If in the top six and a conference winner (no matter what conference), you automatically make it.
  • If one of the five major conference winners (ACC, Big12, SEC, Big10, Pac12) are in the top 8, they bump in front of the last available, non-conference winner.
  • If no team is available to be moved out, the conference winner who is not in the top 6 does not make it (aka if there isn't room, we aren't making any).
  • No more than two teams from a conference can be represented in the playoff.
  • A non-BCS conference winner who places top eight, will not replace a top six non-conference winner.
  • Non-BCS schools must make the top six in order to qualify.  This is unless another team is not eligible to participate in the playoff (conference limit, sanctions, etc.)

I think this formula would be quite fair and give teams a multitude of options to succeed.  Obviously one slip up could mean the end for your championship hopes still, but at the same time you can still fight back and slip in the playoff still.

The last five years would include these teams:


  • Ohio State (Big10 conference winner/#1)
  • LSU (SEC conference winner/#2)
  • Virginia Tech (ACC conference winner/#3)
  • Oklahoma (Big12 conference winner/#4)
  • Georgia (#5)
  • USC (Pac10 conference winner/#7)

#6 Missouri loses out to USC, who won their conference.  All five major conference winners are featured.


  •  Oklahoma (B12 conference winner/#1)
  •  Florida (SEC conference winner/#2)
  •  Texas (#3)
  •  USC (Pac10 conference winner/#5)
  •  Utah (MWC conference winner/#6)
  •  Penn State (Big10 conference winner/#8)

Both #4 Alabama and #7 Texas Tech get bumped out because neither won their conference and are replaced by Utah and Penn State.  Four out of the five major conferences are featured.


  •  Alabama (SEC conference winner/#1)
  •  Texas (Big12 conference winner/#2)
  •  Cincinnati (Big East conference winner/#3)
  •  TCU (MWC conference winner/#4)
  •  Boise State (WAC conference winner/#6)
  •  Oregon (Pac12 conference winner/#7)

Neither #5 Florida nor #8 Ohio State make the playoff because Florida lost their conference and Ohio State had no-one to replace in the top 6.  Three out of the five major conferences are featured.


  • Auburn (SEC conference winner/#1)
  • Oregon (Pac12 conference winner/#2)
  • TCU (MWC conference winner/#3)
  • Stanford (#4)
  • Wisconsin (Co-Big10 conference winner/#5)
  • Oklahoma (Big12 conference winner/#7)

#6 Ohio State is replaced by #7 Oklahoma, who won their conference.  Four out of the five major conferences are featured.


  • LSU (SEC conference winner/#1)
  • Alabama (#2)
  • OklahomaState (Big12 conference winner/#3)
  • Stanford (#4)
  • Oregon (Pac12 conference winner/#5)
  • Boise State (#7)

With the SEC having two teams, #6 Arkansas is not eligible.  Three out of the five major conferences are featured.


Thoughts?  Opinions?  Just randomly thought of some additional ideas while reading the diary and decided to write them down.  Turned out to be a longer post than expected.


December 7th, 2011 at 10:02 PM ^

Again, extending the season is not going to fly with the university presidents. It took DECADES to convince them to allow 13 games. It will take decades to add more.

Which means for 8 team playoffs to work, you have to shorten the regular season.

Which is NOT going to fly with the AD's since that means millions in lost revenue.

Other than the fact that no one will agree to your system, your system looks fine.


December 8th, 2011 at 10:50 PM ^

It was for more fun than an actual design that would happen.  The BCS has undoubtely looked at every viewpoint there is and if they haven't, someone else has.  Was just doing something that I'd personally like to see and to see if I could make something work in my perfect world.


December 7th, 2011 at 7:03 PM ^

To my mind, there is no way to make every faction completely happy.  Therefore, I have decided to take an utilitarian approach.

The six conferences that currentlly hold BCS AQ championchips will all have twelve teams per conference. 


The two teams with the best conference records will battle it out in a conference championship game. The best record in the conference will not be determined by what division a team is in.  This should help eliminate a 5-3 tgeam in the East division from getting in ahead of a 6-2 team in the West division.  Head-to-head and/or record against same opponents can work as tie-breakers.  These championship games will be played when they are now.  Nice money grab for the conferences.


The conference champions will go to the "Big Four" bowl games that currently make up the BCS bowls. This will allow  The Rose Bowl can go back to always pitting the Big 10 and Pac 12. Two "at-large" teams will be selected.  This is just in case Notre Dame, the MWC, or some other non-AQ team is actually good.  No AQ-conference team that did not win it's CCG will be allowed in.  (Sorry, 'Bama, you had your chance.)   This will serve as the first round of a playoff, as well as (hopefully) somewhat satisfy the "bowl purists."  This will also provide a cash grab for the cities involved, as well as anyone else who can make money off of them.  The bowls will be played January 1-2.

The four bowl winners will participate int wo semi-final games at TBD locations, chosen in the same way the venue for the BB Final Four is chosen.  Or hockey Frozen Four, if you prefer.  The game will be played January 8-9, or the closest Saturday-Sunday thereof.  More T.V. and host-city money.


The following Saturday will be the NCG, again at a TBD site.  More T.V. and host money.


There ye be:  A system that is somewhat more fair as far as choosing a true National Champion, only adds two more games max per school, more money and more T.V. to watch. 



December 7th, 2011 at 7:31 PM ^

Make it so that the BCS Championship game pits the two highest rated conference champions to play for the National Championship.

I know this screws us in '06 but at least we have consistent criteria and the SEC is completely favored all the time.


December 8th, 2011 at 9:57 AM ^

Tweaked proposal:

Any Division 1 conference automatically qualifies for the 8-team playoff provided its champion is in the top 16.  They are:

1. LSU (SEC)
3. Oklahoma State (Big 12)
5. Oregon (Pac 12)
7. Boise State (MWC)
10. Wisconsin (Big 10)
15. Clemson (ACC)

The Big East would not have an automatic qualifier.  

This leaves room for two at-larges, determined by highest available BCS ranked team.  Only two teams per conference can participate in the tournament, which still leaves #2 Alabama (SEC) and #4 Stanford (Pac 12) eligible.  You can not be an at-large team if your conference championis not already in the tournament.

The traditional bowls remain in place and are the first round.  The bowls are matched up with the highest available seed playing the lowest, so LSU would play Boise St, and so on.  Conference rematches could not take place in the first round (so essentially, no, we wouldn't see an SEC rematch until the finals) and would be avoided throughout the tournament.
Rose Bowl (Big Ten vs Pac 12): 5 Oregon v 10 Wisconsin
Sugar Bowl (SEC v ?): 1 LSU v 7 Boise St
Orange Bowl (ACC v ?): 15 Clemson v 2 Alabama
Fiesta Bowl (Big 12 v ?): 3 Oklahoma State v 4 Stanford

If, say, the worst team in the playoff were to win, they'd still have to go through some heavy competition to get there.  If you assume all upsets and a second round of 15 Clemson v 4 Stanford and 10 Wisconsin v 7 Boise St, and a final of 15 Clemson and 10 Wisconsin, the worst ranked team would have to have had dispatched of the #2, #4, and #10 teams on the way to the title.  That's a hell of a resume, if you ask me, and it would likely be more impressive as every single game wouldn't be an upset and thus the competition would be ranked higher.

I believe my scenario is the best available for preserving the current bowl system,  making the regular season and conferences meaningful, encouraging tougher out of conference scheduling, and still introducing a playoff that could produce a difficult-to-dispute champion. 

Eye of the Tiger

December 8th, 2011 at 10:12 AM ^

Thanks for adding them to the discussion!

Personally, I think any playoff including more than 4 teams is automatically off the table.  It would entail too many extra games and, in the eyes of some of the people making the decisions here, dilute the brand by making it too similar to every other American sport. For others it would simply be "too different."

Some sort of +1 format is much more likely to happen.  Whether this ends up being an extra game after bowl matchups, or an actually seeded 4-team tournament is not clear.  (The former seems more likely to me, because of the "slippery slope" fears I mentioned above.)



December 8th, 2011 at 11:32 PM ^

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!