Admittedly, I did not put as much thought or research into my idea as did "heckdchi", but this popped into my head around 2 years ago and this is the first time I've published it or told it to anyone outside my friends and family. Having said that...
A playoff is very possible and my suggestion satisfies everyone involved even the oldtimers, which I consider myself, and the money motivated bowl commishes.
Right now we have a 12 game season with admittedly 3 - 4 cream puff games in almost every major conference. If you take the season and chop it down to 8 games that are all played in conference / regional (for non-conference teams), and then take a week to rank everyone (to me it doesnt matter what formula you use) and then begin a 7 week playoff, then every team in D1 gets a shot at the title.
Now let me digress...if we took two weeks in preseason training and had controlled scrimmages with teams out of conference (like the NFL) then technically we have a 10 game season albeit modified.
Back on track...at the end of the eight game regular season, the computers rank teams according to their regions (split them up however you like but there is a framework already devised in basketball). Then begin playing playoff games according to your bracket it should only take 17 total weeks to hold a season. Now some teams will only be playing a 9 game season as it appears (half of the D1 schools) and 3/4ths will only be playing a 10 game season, etc etc but once we are down to 2 teams that have made it all the way through the process, then we take a week off and the bowl commishes sit down and select teams to come play in their bowl. If you want to keep it traditional (Rose bowl - Big Ten v Pac 10, etc) ok, fine by me. The point is that if we started the 1st weekend in September or end of August, the regular season is over November 1st. Take a week off and begin playoff games the second weekend in November. You play the next 6 weeks straight according to your bracket as mentioned before then take another week off to deliberate the bowl situation and for the final 2 teams to properly prepare for a national championship opponent, you are still done around Christmas.
This scenario appears to me to solve the debate with length of season because the teams that only have a 9 game season if they dont get selected to a bowl have more time to recover, start training earlier and recruit more, oh and then there's always start studying for finals. Also for the guys that go the distance or nearly the distance the pro scouts get a real look at how these star athletes will hold up to a 15 game season.
Money-wise: the regional playoffs can be set up to make more money for the cities that the games are played in (neutral turf), then when the playoff are coming to an end the bowls and their host cities still make their money and the national champ game can filter as is through the big 4 (orange, fiesta, sugar and rose). We get to keep our bowls and we get a real national champion without the computers leaving someone out.
Now I know that there are probably a lot of holes in my theory but I think with a little sit down time, the powers that be can work out the kinks and the fans, the coaches, the schools, the bowls, and the pro scouts are all happy.
Give me some feedback...