Pretty Radical Playoff Idea

Submitted by MaizeAndBlueWahoo on December 11th, 2008 at 10:46 PM

OK, if you even made it this far, congrats. This time of year, everyone's got their own perfect little playoff ideas that they want to share with the world, and it gets a little tiresome. That notwithstanding, it's my turn.

I'm vehemently against the notion of a playoff as it's usually thought of. To me it ruins the regular season and the bowls, both of which I think are too important. But I've conceived this idea (I may or may not be the first, I dunno) and it's one that satisfies my own concerns about traditions, while adding a radical new wrinkle to the season that ought to satisfy the playoff proponents in a BIG way. I invite all to poke holes in the idea as they see fit....

- First, grab 8 more teams from DI-AA for a 128 team league. You can have a tournament with any number of teams, of course, but 128 is twice 64 so it breaks down nicely.

- Schedule 6 games at the beginning of the season. Some of them would be conference games and others would be non-conference, scheduled by the AD as they are now.

- Have a competition committee seed a 128-team bracket during a nationwide bye week, based on last year's results and this year's first few games, taking into account strength of schedule, quality of wins, blah blah blah. You could set up an RPI same as in basketball. Committee would attempt to avoid rematches.

- Play out the tournament. It would take six weeks to boil down to two teams. Losing teams return to their regular schedule as determined by the conferences and continue to play out the season. Winning teams continue through the bracket.

- Losing teams then continue to play the regular season just as they do now, but ineligible for the national title, and their conference title too if another team from their conference is still alive.

- The national title game then becomes the result of the bracket. All the bowls are played just exactly as they are now. Conference champions can be determined however the conference wants to determine them.

Advantages would be: We get a playoff - a big honkin' one - and we don't ever have to hear the media whine and bitch about it ever again. The bowl system remains almost perfectly intact, and even retains its prestige. Being the Rose Bowl champs would still mean something. The BCS can continue, only without the national championship aspect - now it's just a series of championship bowls for conference champions and some of the better at-larges. The regular season still means something, because the playoff is the regular season, and eliminated teams still get to play for a bowl game berth. Everybody gets a shot at being the national champion, and playing a seven-game tournament would probably shut everyone up about who does and doesn't deserve it. And finally, those early season games become pretty important all of a sudden. You want to impress the committee, maybe you stop scheduling Northwest Southcentraleastern North Dakota Poly Tech.

Disadvantages: It'd required wicked amounts of schedule flexibility. The teams' logistics people would really have to earn their paycheck. (But the TV schedulers generally ensure that games don't have a set time until as soon as a week prior anyway.) And a team would be conference champs despite playing maybe as few as three conference games. (Although if you're national champs, you probably would have beat all the fools in your conference anyway.) Also, potential loss of rivalry games. If Michigan or OSU is one of the teams still left in the bracket, the game wouldn't happen that year. However, by the last couple weeks only a few teams would still be alive for the title, and the vast majority of rivalry games would still get played. Probably the only lost ones would involve the final four.

The national schedule would break down like so:

- First six weeks: Games as usual.
- Week 7: Bye, for committee confab.
- Week 8: Round 1. All 128 teams involved.
- Week 9: Round 2. 64 teams remain. Other 64 continue the season as before.
- Weeks 10-12: Rounds 3, 4, 5. At the end, four teams remain.
- Week 13, 14: Final Four. Conference championship games are played, wherever needed. Final Four games get mad crazy hype as national title participants determined. Afterwards, BCS selection for Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta. Bowl invites extended. Final Four losers get auto-bids to a BCS bowl. Winners rejoice, commence smack talk, as both are on a six-game win streak.
- Bowl season: Same as always. Bowls are played, payouts are given, people celebrate. National title game is played. Dan Wetzel orgasms repeatedly. Terry Bowden no longer has column material. Congress decides to bully the NFL a bit.

Comments

dankbrogoblue

December 12th, 2008 at 1:25 AM ^

That is a pretty radical idea, and I like what you're getting at, but I see a couple of problems:
A- when it comes to week 9, how are the teams that lost going to "continue to play the regular season as they do now," when the winning teams will have to play another tournament game the next week; meaning the teams that lose are going to have to schedule a game with another losing team during that week, which is going to create chaos in all athletic departments during the regular season, and make TV scheduling more difficult than it already is, and the TV scheduling applies to the .

B-This system would tear apart conference play.
How is a conference going to determine a conference champion when every team has played (at most) 6 other conference teams unless they happen to run into another conference team in the tournament. That leaves a conference championship up to success in the tournament (which even then could be chaos because if all remaining teams lose in the same week, how is a champion to be decided when they may not have even played each other?), and that I feel is wrong and that is why conference champions are not determined by overall record, but conference record: it's (almost) all left on the field.

I'm sure I could find more, but these are enough. I like the idea behind having the "tournament" be in the regular season and keeping the bowls alive because of it, but this idea needs much editing, so I hope the wonderful people of MGoBlog have some ideas

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 12th, 2008 at 7:19 AM ^

Yeah, like I said, it would require tons of flexibility. I figure like this: it would not really take a full two weeks for the committee to figure out the bracket. The March Madness committee gets a weekend - surely the football people could do it in five days. That leaves over a week for the conference schedulers to come up with contingency plans, and then prior to the Round of 128, you'd have teams saying, OK, if we lose then we get either a home game against A or a road game against B. Definitely not something conferences and teams are used to, but they're smart people with large paychecks, and it's not like they have to deal with the whole bracket, just the at-most 12 teams in their conference.

As for B, yes. Conference play would be greatly affected with some teams playing only three or four games and some playing a full slate. And some conferences would have it tougher than others. The vast majority of teams would play at least six conference games, though - remember, there's six games before the tourney begins, which is time enough for three conference games. You mention chaos if all remaining teams lose in a given week - I think the worst-case scenario for that would be something like three conference teams losing in the quarterfinal round of 8, in which case there's enough slop time remaining for those teams to play each other and determine a champ. I realize it's a problem that the last two teams will have played only a small handful of conference games, and I understand people would have a hard time handing the conference championship to a team like that, but, well, I'm OK with it. It might be a fun part of the pageantry to award the Big 12 trophy to Oklahoma and the SEC trophy to Florida as part of the pregame festivities. Ultimately, it'd be up to the conferences how to determine a champion.

"How would this influence home games with a tournament? Isn't part of college football getting home tickets, tailgating, seeing your old campus?"

The tournament games would be at home sites, except for the national title game and maaaayyyybe the Final Four. No worries here. Neutral site games would be the seventh circle of logistics hell.

J.W. Wells Co.

December 12th, 2008 at 10:26 AM ^

Okay, I'll admit it was a dick thing to do and borderline uncalled for, but I'm in an ornery mood this morning.

My biggest problem with it is the required flexibility. Not for the teams and conferences (as someone commented on, commissioners and ADs get paid lots of money; they ought to be able to figure out flex scheduling).

But what about the fans who travel for home games and fund entire athletic departments with their ticket fees? I'd be able to plan my fall around the first six weeks of the season, but after that, I've bought my season ticket package and I have no idea if the team will be home or away on each week, or whom they'll be playing. Who knows if I'll be able to get that hotel room on short notice? Will one of my team's home games fall on the saturday of my cousin's wedding? What about my son's high school football playoff weekend?

From what I read in this scenario, there'd be very little telling week-to-week (especially in the few weeks right after the bye week) whether teams will be playing at home, and who the opponents will be. And for the most part, the good teams will still be playing in the tournament.

So I've got season tix. Instead of planning my trips and booking hotels, etc., 9 months in advance, I've got to wait until the week before games to find out if I'm even making the trip to a game, which, if my team gets bounced early, is probably against Indiana or Purdue.

And how about the businesses in college towns? Home football weekends turn red-ink years into black-ink years. Chances are if I'm a restaurant owner I'll get on average the same number of home games each year, but I'll have to constantly have my extra ordering and extra staffing set up for the chance that I might have a home game the next weekend. There's no certainty.

What if I'm a quality mid-level team based on the first six weeks? Say I'm the overall 26 seed. Check out this year's Oct 12 AP poll. So maybe I'm Florida State or Georgia Tech or Michigan State. I play a couple of good games at home and survive through the first two rounds of the tournament, games I should have won. Now if I want to keep going in the tournament, I've got to play the rest of my games on the road, barring lots of big upsets. And I've probably got to travel some great distances. So I'm essentially faced with having to keep winning on short practice weeks, because I've got to travel every week, rather than traveling maybe every other week. And it's not like I'm a really bad team and it's guaranteed that I'll lose pretty quick and return to home-and-away conference play; I'm pretty close to being a top-20 team.

And we're going to seed for a tournament to determine the national champion based on teams' cream-puff non-conference schedules and their first two or three conference games? How reasonable is that? Remember Vanderbilt this year? They had some decent looking wins early and completely tanked. Did this year's Vanderbilt team really deserve the higher seed they would've gotten after week 6? If they survived the first three weeks of the tournament playing the worst of the Sun Belt and Mountain West, they would've been given a home-field advantage over a slightly lower seed who is likely a significantly better team in the long run. Unless you want to bring lots of subjectivity into the selection process. No, that wouldn't be controversial at all. And seeding based on just the first six games will REALLY water down non-conference scheduling.

How about the national bye week? I get depressed enough when just U-M has a bye. It's the heart of college football season. I'm supposed to not watch any college football for a week? It's a good thing ESPN has lots of bowling and fly fishing for me to watch on that rainy day in October. College basketball has a selection *night*, with conference championship games played on Saturday and the first tournament games on the following Thursday. Under this football system, we'd have two whole weeks between game days.

I'll give you one thing though, I like how this keeps the bowl games largely intact and interesting. But I don't like the idea of not having a set regular-season schedule. Come on, that's a staple of every team sport and league under the sun.

PS, MSU grads are still stupid.

Dix

December 12th, 2008 at 10:24 AM ^

I see a problem with your plan though. Like the first poster said, the losing teams wouldn't just be able to resume their regular schedule, because teams on that schedule would still be alive in the tournament.

For example, if Northwestern is the only Big Ten team to lose in the first round, it wouldn't be able to play any of it's Big Ten games because the rest would all still be alive in the tournament. Who would Northwestern play then, another team that lost? It'd be too hard to coordinate.

Also, I think your system would make it extremely difficult to make ticket sales with no one knowing when/where/if their team is going to play.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 12th, 2008 at 11:06 AM ^

"I see a problem with your plan though. Like the first poster said, the losing teams wouldn't just be able to resume their regular schedule, because teams on that schedule would still be alive in the tournament."

Point is there would be no set schedule after the first six. Northwestern would play whichever other Big Ten team lost. That's what's got JWWC bugged, and the flexing of schedules is probably the plan's Achilles heel, though I think it can be worked out with some creativity. When I get home today I'll try and work it out some to see how it goes. Lemme try and address some of JWWC's issues....

"But what about the fans who travel for home games and fund entire athletic departments with their ticket fees?"

It'd be tough. I do believe it'd be possible to guarantee a set number of home games. I think it may even be possible to guarantee dates after the seeding is arranged, but I don't know yet. In any case there is already a small element of this, with fans not knowing whether games will be night or day. Not a problem at Michigan, but at most other schools.

"And how about the businesses in college towns?"

Again, I think it can be worked out that home dates (if not opponents) are guaranteed. Maybe, maybe not. In any case, few people seem to worry about the impact on, say, New Orleans businesses when they propose a 16-team playoff that forever ruins the Sugar Bowl.

"What if I'm a quality mid-level team based on the first six weeks?"

I honestly don't really worry about this. Be a better team, then. One of the arguments against a playoff is that you merely shift the pissed-off teams from the 3rd team to the 9th team, or 13th, or 17th. The response invariably is that the further down you go, the less excuse teams have to be mad, because they're not as good. Here they at least get to be included, which is better than being shut out, right? Lots of teams have three road games in a row, so it wouldn't change much.

"And we're going to seed for a tournament to determine the national champion based on teams' cream-puff non-conference schedules and their first two or three conference games?"

And - this is important - last year's results too. Vandy's terrific start would be taken into account, but also - to what degree would probably be the subject of much debate - their 3-9 (or whatever) season the year before.

"How about the national bye week?" That does kinda suck. Kind of the least of my worries though, that fans might have to get up and rake the leaves or do their honey-do list instead.

Dix

December 12th, 2008 at 11:36 AM ^

I am not sure people really propose a playoff that would completely ruin the Sugar Bowl.

It seems like it'd be pretty easy to have the final games of the tournament be the big four bowl games.

The Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, and Rose could rotate still being the championship game. Whichever "bowl" was the championship game the year before becomes the game between the semifinal losers the following year. The other two bowls get the "final four" games.

So for example in year 1 of the system you'd have the Orange and Sugar bowls being the two semi-final games. The two semifinal losers play the following week in the Fiesta Bowl. Then the Rose bowl plays the week after for the title game.

That would provide all the major bowls with pretty powerful and compelling matchups and would all but guarantee the games are worth watching. Only the consolation game would be meaningless, but the teams would likely be high quality.

Meanwhile, all the other bowl games continue unaffected by the tournament. Bowl eligibility requirements remain the same, and any team that didn't make the tourney, but qualifies for a bowl can still go and do their post season thing.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 12th, 2008 at 12:07 PM ^

Dix - of the myriad ideas out there, many of them ruin the bowls as they stand now. Because - I'll be spitefully honest here - what happens is, there are plenty of anti-playoff folks out there, me included, that have plenty of good reasons why a playoff is bad. And then people come up and say "well MY idea blah blah blah" in some way that addresses a specific concern as if that should cure us of our anti-playoff issues.....but unfortunately, everyone's idea has a hole in it somewhere. But much of the pro-playoff sentiment comes from people having what they think is the perfect idea; only they're going to be sorely disappointed when the real playoffs come out, because I believe there's a couple truisms about reality that get totally ignored when people have their dream scenarios.

Which is why I came up with something completely out of the box. To jerk the discussion in a new direction. The question is whether the flex scheduling is workable, and I'm going to do Part 2 when I get out of work to find out.

In your idea's case, I've never, ever liked the idea of "using the bowls in the playoff system", one, because you'd have to get the bowls to go along with that and I'm not convinced they would. I don't think the Orange Bowl, being on the East Coast, would really dig being told "you're getting USC and Utah and you're going to like it" especially if they were a semifinal, or worse, a consolation game. What sponsor would sponsor the consolation game? And how many Michigan fans would travel to Miami, then up and travel to Pasadena two weeks later? Or to Phoenix a week later for a totally meaningless game? I honestly think the bowls would rather have a non-championship-implication matchup of good regional teams that will fill the stadium than a semi-final with empty seats.

And I've always thought there's just something wrong with being the Orange Bowl champs and Rose Bowl champs all in one year.

Dix

December 12th, 2008 at 12:23 PM ^

you're right that all ideas have problems.

you're also right that the same Michigan fan wouldn't likely travel to Miami for a game one week, and to Pasadena for a game the next.

What you would have though is more opportunity for Michigan fans across the country to get to a game nearer them. The same number of Michigan fans will be there regardless of where the game is played, they'll just be different fans.

The same might not be true for schools that don't have alumni sprawled out across the nation. The teams with programs strong enough to compete in the final rounds of the tournament though probably have wide alumni bases.

If the bowl games don't want to sponsor the tournament, to hell with them, I am sure that there are companies that will. Inclusion of the bowl games in the playoff system is not the point. The sole purpose of including them is so that they don't get completely eliminated and the system retains some sort of familiarity. If you're going to have a playoff then the bowls are superfluous, all you'd care about is sponsorship from whatever source.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 12th, 2008 at 12:45 PM ^

Dix - isn't that exactly part of the beauty of my plan? That Michigan would be forced to schedule games in places they NEVER would otherwise schedule. Like Austin, or Tallahassee, or Knoxville. And instead of being in the same spot, and maybe only once every few years, it'd be everywhere, and it'd be all over the place, giving Michigan alums all round the country the chance to go be part of a very passionate rooting section in enemy territory.

J.W. Wells Co.

December 12th, 2008 at 12:00 PM ^

"In any case there is already a small element of this, with fans not knowing whether games will be night or day."

A small point, yes, but if I'm traveling for a game and my trip requires a hotel stay, I don't care if the game's at noon, 3:30 or 8. That's a big difference from not knowing whether I'm even going or not.

"Point is there would be no set schedule after the first six. Northwestern would play whichever other Big Ten team lost."

What if NW is the only BT team that lost? They're off for a week, after playing one game after the national bye week?
What if only two BT teams lose in the first round and none in the second round? They play each other two weeks in a row? Even if they've already played in the three early-season scheduled conference games?

"And - this is important - last year's results too. Vandy's terrific start would be taken into account, but also - to what degree would probably be the subject of much debate - their 3-9 (or whatever) season the year before."

So this year, U-M's deserved 110th overall seed would've been boosted to 95th overall because it beat DNC Florida in the Citrus Bowl the year before with a completely different team? Okay, so in answer you say, well, the committee would take the complete turnover in player personnel into account too. But that would put a ridiculous amount of subjectivity into the process, wouldn't it?

"Few people seem to worry about the impact on, say, New Orleans businesses when they propose a 16-team playoff that forever ruins the Sugar Bowl."

Businesses in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Miami, and Tempe are in big cities and have people coming to watch pro teams and for lots of other events. These businesses wouldn't have their have their one really big BCS bowl weekend under a 16-team playoff, but they'll still do pretty darned well the rest of the year. I'm talking about the Main Street businesses in Ann Arbor and State College and Ames and West Lafayette. Chances are they wouldn't go under, but boy would they not like the uncertainty of when their crowds are coming. The business argument is not a huge problem of mine, but I think it serves to emphasize the point that scheduling impacts an entire college town, not just the schools. Multiply that by 100 mid-sized and small college towns nationwide.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 12th, 2008 at 12:25 PM ^

"That's a big difference from not knowing whether I'm even going or not."

True. But again, I think it could be possible to guarantee home dates, or at least narrow it down quite a bit. I'll figure it out.

"What if NW is the only BT team that lost?"

I think it's unlikely that with 64 losing teams, there will be any conference loners. If so, simply schedule a non-conference game. Remember, after two weeks there'll be 96 spare teams, so most of these concerns won't be a problem and conferences can set quite a large chunk of their schedule in stone.

"But that would put a ridiculous amount of subjectivity into the process, wouldn't it?"

No more subjectivity than is already in the process, what with Harris voters not even being sure which teams are undefeated. And no more subjectivity than would be in any seeding procedure for a conventional playoff that continues to use BCS rankings or seedings. In this case, you'd have a dedicated group of experts whose only job is to seed the playoff, rather than some graduate assistant that the coach shuffled off his ballot to because Coach was too busy.

Besides, in a playoff that damn big, the best teams would rise to the top no matter what. This tends to happen almost all the time in March Madness. Maybe Michigan shouldn't be 95th, maybe they should be 60th. Whatever - they're not likely to make it past the second round anyway. I highly doubt there will be any deserving champs who get ousted early because they got seeded too low.

PattyMax64

December 12th, 2008 at 12:21 PM ^

I think that if this was to be done, then it would be sweet to make a relegation aspect as well. Across all 3 divisions the top 4 teams move up, and 4 move down. I dont know how to choose the last 4, but it would be awesome. We could see D3 powers up in D1, and Appy State and James MAdison proving themselves to the country.

The only problem with this format would be with recruiting. The big teams would get the most kids, because the kids wouldnt want to play only 66 games, so they would go with the teams that offered them the opportunity to play the most games and get the most exposure. MAybe there could be a losers bracket, so that everyone could play at least 12, and then there could be a bowl schedule that led up to the finals. I think that would be awesome.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 12th, 2008 at 12:29 PM ^

Patty - I thought about a relegation aspect. It would indeed be fun. But the scholarship issue bungles that idea to high heaven. It'd be too hard to reconcile scholarship limitations with relegation.

"The big teams would get the most kids, because the kids wouldnt want to play only 6 games, so they would go with the teams that offered them the opportunity to play the most games and get the most exposure."

You're missing the part where the losers simply return to playing a regular season and go to Gator Bowls and Motor City Bowls and what not. Everyone would still play 12 games.

Dix

December 12th, 2008 at 1:00 PM ^

I am not trying to slam your plan, I promise. I'm just enjoying the discussion.

One of the biggest arguments I ever hear against a playoff is that it renders the regular season meaningless. Normally, I don't think that is true because with a limited enough playoff bracket, the regular season determines invitations into the tournament. Better in my mind to be arguing over who got left out for being ranked 17th than over who got left out by being ranked 3rd. I think your system would dilute conferences schedules to the point that a conference championship is meaningless. You would win your championship essentially by being the last team in your conference still in the tournament, which means you won it without even playing your fellow conference opponents.

Your idea though goes as far towards making the regular season meaningless as any system I've heard thus far. Maybe that isn't a problem, because you're offering to replace it with a huge tournament. I think though, that you have a real problem.

The first 6 games mean very little, as the elite teams will be seeded high and the also rans, even with good starts, will be seeded lower. Seeding will probably revert to being based on program prestige.

After the first round, 64 teams have lost and 64 teams have won. those 64 losers will play 32 games that mean absolutely zilch, and that happens in week 8 or so. fully half the games will have no meaning whatsoever, because those teams will have been eliminated from championship contention and the tournament rumbles along without them. The next week you knock out another 32 teams.

By week 9, 96 teams are left playing 48 meaningless games. and the remaining 32 teams play 16 games that matter.

I think that is just too many games between teams with nothing left to play for. All the best and most interesting teams would still be in the tournament too. It almost seems better just to reorganize the league into tiers like professional soccer.

If you're in the top tier, you're one of 32 teams that is fully capable of funding itself through yearly revenues with no conference revenue sharing. Those are your NDs, and big time conference programs. Split them into 4 divisions, have them play eachother head to head with the winner advancing to the tournament like group play in the world cup.

Same thing happens in each tier, with 32 teams playing for the championship of their tier.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 12th, 2008 at 2:03 PM ^

I like my idea a lot but I don't want to be that guy who wants a playoff because he wants HIS playoff because it's "perfect". Discussion is the point.

Anyways....

"You would win your championship essentially by being the last team in your conference still in the tournament, which means you won it without even playing your fellow conference opponents."

Yes, in some cases. That's the one part of this that I think is irreconcilable. It'd just be that way. It's not ideal. I think there are ways of mitigating this but not rectifying it.

"Your idea though goes as far towards making the regular season meaningless as any system I've heard thus far."

I don't agree, in large part because I conceived this whole idea with the idea that it doesn't render the regular season meaningless. You say that 96 teams would be playing totally meaningless games, but isn't that kind of the way it is now? Once a team accumulates two losses - and 90% of teams have done this within six weeks - any game it plays with any other such team is essentially meaningless for the national title picture. I mean, check out Week 9 this year. Did most of those games really have an effect on the national title picture anyway, even if the future isn't known? I look at that week and I count about 5 or 6 that involved national title contenders. What I like about the regular season is that it basically already acts as one big playoff. Lose and you're done, or you wait for help. A more standard playoff removes that aspect. This reinforces it, and forces a team to go on that huge winning streak.

And remember, my plan would direct the selection committee to take into account the previous season, meaning that teams are not only playing the first six games for that all-important seeding, but the previous season as well. Again, the amount of consideration last year gets could end up being a pretty controversial point, but surely, the team that went to the Cotton Bowl last year would get the nod over a team that went to the Liberty Bowl, all other things being equal.

Dix

December 12th, 2008 at 5:13 PM ^

Wahoo, you're mistaken about there being 90 teams playing meaningless games two weeks into the season.

The teams with 2 losses dont have title hopes but they can play teams that do and try to spoil it for the front runners. While the majority of games are meaningless in the sense that they don't involve any of the title contenders at the time, lots of teams could become contenders as they sit with one loss or even two losses. The difference with your playoff is that once a team is out, it cannot and will not play a meaningful game again until the following year.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 12th, 2008 at 7:56 PM ^

Dix - even with teams being able to play a spoiler role, you have maybe 5-7 games each week being involved in that around Week 9, and fewer as time goes on. The vast, vast majority of games do not figure in.

And they're not meaningless even if they're not in the tournament that week. They're for conference standing and bowl eligibility, and to impress next year's selection committee. In other words, precisely what they're for now. As a Virginia fan, I watched my team play exactly one game that figured into the title hunt all season. One - at the beginning of the year. Michigan played one also, maybe two if you consider OSU in the title chase at that point, three if you think Utah was legitimately in the title hunt all year, which they were not. This system would put Utah in the title hunt.

mvp

December 12th, 2008 at 1:22 PM ^

I like the creativity, but I don't think it is viable.

As discussed, the flexibility thing is the major sticking point for me. We have 3 kids and live 2 hours from Ann Arbor. We start planning football season in July, and it is still nearly impossible for both my wife and I to make it to every game. I'm not sure how old you are, Wahoo, but once you're out of your 20's and into family/work time, this gets almost untenable.

There is a huge cost issue as well. Travel for the team to a potential location half-way across the country is SUPER expensive. And the middle to lower ranked teams, with much smaller budgets, are the teams that are likely to have to travel more due to seeding issues.

When the NCAA tournament happens, all of that spur-of-the-moment travel is planned and PAID FOR by the tournament. You mention a bunch of conference and team officials earning their paychecks, but I'm not quite sure who those guys are. I don't think the conference scheduling guys actualy plan any travel for any teams. The team officials that plan this kind of stuff have conference locations that they're used to (typically go to the same hotels, etc.) and one or maybe two games a year that are at an atypical location (random non-conference games). Even for the bowl games, those team officails get lots of help from the bowl officials who are responsible for setting up the teams, their practice facilities, and accomodations.

To make it work, you will effectively have to schedule 64 new games EACH WEEK. You don't know the winners or losers before hand, even if you know the bracket. Then the winners obviously move on by seeding, but the losers have to get added back to the loser pool. It is a massive linear programming problem each week.

Add to all this, the fact that there are some teams that share fields with other teams and/or other events. This becomes pretty untenable very quickly.

The reason I like an 8-team playoff is that it keeps most things intact. First, the Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, and Orange bowls host round 1 on January 1st. All other bowl games continue as planned. Round 2 is only 4 teams in two games -- very doable logistically. Then Round 3 is the national championship.

I don't think you'd have a huge problem getting 60,000 to the national championship game. Enough people will buy tickets before hand just to see whoever is in. There will certainly be demand from those two schools as well. The biggest issue with this plan, I think, is attendance at the semi-final games; at least they will be big TV ratings games though.

Another advantage of this plan, is that the season is only extended for four teams, and for two of those, by only one week (really before second semester classes even start). Plus, the regular season is diminished in almost no way at all. Getting one of those eight spots will not be easy.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 12th, 2008 at 2:20 PM ^

"I'm not sure how old you are, Wahoo, but once you're out of your 20's and into family/work time, this gets almost untenable."

I live in Rhode Island. Before that I lived in Washington state. I don't really have the chance to go. And to be honest, I really suspect that there are far, far, far more people that get to go to one game a year if any at all, than plan their weekends obsessively around going to every single game. No offense, mvp, but I think you are in the extreme minority. When I did live in the U-M footprint, growing up, hardly anyone I knew was going to games week in and week out.

"And the middle to lower ranked teams, with much smaller budgets, are the teams that are likely to have to travel more due to seeding issues."

But probably only once a season. If someone does go on a George Mason run, the exposure and hype will probably make up for the travel expenditures. Besides, these teams already get paid half a mil to travel to some BCS school to get clobbered, a deal which wouldn't happen if either side were losing money on it. I think the revenue sharing would work itself out.

mvp

December 12th, 2008 at 4:14 PM ^

"No offense, mvp, but I think you are in the extreme minority. When I did live in the U-M footprint, growing up, hardly anyone I knew was going to games week in and week out."

None taken. I'm not sure, however, what the demographics are. I know I've been a season ticket holder since 1994 and been in 3 different locations. Each time, we got to know the people around us pretty well, and there's a core that are there very regularly.

Given how much the athletic department would probably prefer selling season tickets, and how hard they are to get, I'd think that regular game-goers make up the core of the fanbase. Further evidence of this is the fact that you see the same people again and again in the same tailgating spots.

You're right, though, that very few people are as nuts about trying to get to all the games as I am... :)

"But probably only once a season. If someone does go on a George Mason run, the exposure and hype will probably make up for the travel expenditures."

Fair points, both. I think some of the other issues are the logistics, the short notice, and the liklihood that more air travel would have to be involved. If Michigan is playing, say, Oregon, and you know about it 18 months in advance, that's enough time to think about a trip to the Northwest. If Michigan is playing Oregon SATURDAY and you find out Tuesday...

All that being said, again, kudos for coming up with something different and giving us something to discuss.

What about this: Mix things up a bit. Start the season immediately with conference games. Play six conference games. Then seed the tournament. 128 teams after six rounds of games would leave two left. Those two play for the National Championship, everyone else goes to their bowls.

Or, you could jigger with it in terms of the number of rounds. Eight conference games followed by a five-round, 32-team playoff. That would mean an 8-game schedule for every team followed by four variable/playoff games (then traditional bowls or National Championship).

The key insight that you've come up with, I think, is a way to preserve the bowl games and not extend the season too much. By eliminating non-conference games, you preserve the tradtion of the conferences, too.

Heck, as I think about it, you could even do eight games fixed followed by a 64-team playoff. There would only be four teams playing an extra game, which would fall the week of the current conference championships. The other 60 eliminated teams would stop after a 12 game regular season; the two losers of the semi-final games would be eligible for regular bowl games much like the losers of the conference championship games today. Call this the 8/4/1/1 plan (8 conference, 4 playoff {and non-playoff for losers and outsiders}, 1 semi-final, 1 bowl game)

I keep coming back to the fact that it would be nearly impossible to schedule seven weeks of 64 variable games. With the 8/4/1/1, you "only" have four weeks of total chaos, not seven. There's a lot more stability for teams to plan on with at least four home games plus whatever happens in the playoff.

Still, I don't think you'd ever get the conferences or presidents to agree.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 12th, 2008 at 7:51 PM ^

"Start the season immediately with conference games. Play six conference games. Then seed the tournament."

I thought about this, but ultimately rejected it because non-conference games would give the selection committee a better perspective on the relative strengths of teams.

Anyway, in a little bit I'll have Part 2 posted, in which I display the results of a mock season under this system.