Semi OT: Better schedules and a playoff

Submitted by sterling1213 on September 4th, 2009 at 1:47 PM
    Just to start off I am not a proponent of a playoff system. I do not like the BCS. I would really like to go back to the old way of doing things which I understand is not perfect but I really liked the traditional matchups every year. Not to mention how great New Years Day used to be. So if I had it my way we would just go back to having a bunch of great bowls on New Years and let the voters decide the MNC (not that it doesn’t still happen, like LSU and USC). With that being said I realize that is probably not (read never) going to happen.
    So I have been thinking of some Ideas that would make a playoff acceptable to someone like me who loves the bowl system. And for those of you who think that they can coexist I couldn’t agree less. I would present the NIT as proof, yes it still exists but who really cares. The bowls would die a very slow death and become irrelevant. You can already see the beginning of this happening. A playoff system would only speed this death. No more Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, New Years Day… For me throwing away 90 plus years of tradition in not something that is acceptable at all. Now I always hear how you could use the bowl games for the tournament sites, but ask yourself why the Big Ten or Big East would ever agree to that. I don’t think that playing road games round after round would be appealing to them at all. So that option won’t work.
    
My solution is two fold
    1.  Institute a 16 team playoff system. Every conference gets one automatic bid for its Champion. This would have 11 automatic bids and 5 at large bids, which are more at large bids than we have in the BCS and none of those bids would probably go to a lesser conference. This would increase the number of "big time" conference teams playing. I am not tied to any way of selecting those 5 teams, the BCS rankings, final AP/coaches poll, or selection committee are all fine with me. I would have the first round game played at the home site of higher seed. How great would it be to see some SEC, Pac 10, Big 12, and Florida schools traveling up to M, Ohio St., Penn St… in December? I would love that. Then the rest of the rounds could be at host sites like March Madness. This allows the NC be “settled on the field” and for those of us who don’t want the bowls go away my second point will deal with this.   
    2. Now I will admit that this is a major compromise for those of us who love the bowls but without a compromise they will go away forever. First get rid of the automatic 12th game which has done nothing for the improvement of College football. Unless you like playing 1-AA school. Replace it with the bowl games, yes at the beginning of the season. I know that this is a very foreign idea, but the Peach Bowl is already doing it (Va. Tech vs. Alabama). So the first week of the season we would have a bunch of bowl games much like the “preseason games” of the 80’s and 90’s. So week one you would have a ton of great traditional inter-conference match-ups. So the areas that are used to the revenue that their local bowl game gives them would be able to keep the game and continue to provide the financial stability for those places, which is a factor in all of this. 
We would be replacing a system that encourages you to play a weak non conference schedule and replace it with a system that promotes tough scheduling and allows for the bowls to still exist, a plus for us who love the tradition of them, and have a playoff for a “true” national championship. I understand that this is not a perfect solution, but I feel it successfully addresses a lot of the issues with the current system.

Comments

sterling1213

September 4th, 2009 at 2:07 PM ^

This happens in March Madness as well. The NFL has had some teams win the Super Bowl with out winning their division. It is one of my arguments that a playoff system doesn't always give you the best team. Some times the champion is just a good team that gets hot at the end of the year. And if you don't have an at large bids what do you do with a team like Texas and Texas Tech from last year.

david from wyoming

September 4th, 2009 at 4:11 PM ^

I know this is a philosophical debate; can a team win the national title without first winning it's own conference. My counter to the Texas or Texas Tech of 2008 has always been shifting to the blame onto the conference. Tell the big12 to pick a conference champ, and the conference champ goes to the national title game. That way, any issues of more then one team in a conference lobbying for a spot in the national title game is shifted to the conferences to deal with. The big12 has to pick between Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech and the NCAA doesn't have to.

Just my e-pinion.

mackbru

September 4th, 2009 at 2:40 PM ^

I think yours is a pretty damn good proposal. And I don't think it would be problematic to have a national champ who hadn't won its conference. We've had that already, haven't we? Nobody minded. And of course it happens constantly in basketball.

THE.MICHIGAN.MAN

September 4th, 2009 at 3:03 PM ^

so, you want to play an extra 4-1 = 3 games per season? Play through December, or well into Janaury? this will most definitely not be accepted by any university.
And having the bowl games at the start of the season is meaningless. these "pre-season" games will be warmup games no one will care about. there is a reason most teams play pansies for their opening game (and may play actual opponents in Week 2), and that is they need to have the rust wear off and get some kinks out. A bowl game in the opening week will produce sub-standard football.

sterling1213

September 4th, 2009 at 4:17 PM ^

I don't neg people for disagreeing with me. And I don't think that no one would care about the bowls at the beginning. Does no one care about the games this weekend? They would be better match ups than we have this week. Are you really suggesting that people would not be interested in games matching up top 25 teams? I think you are getting hung up on the word preseason. We had these games for years before and they count as regular season games, the only reason they were called preseason games is that they were a special 12th game at the time.

mackbru

September 4th, 2009 at 3:46 PM ^

The extra games issue certainly is noteworthy. But only two teams would play that many. Only a tiny handful would play more than one. Something tells me the final four wouldn't be complaining; nor their accountants.

In order to agree with academic schedules, the tournament should begin earlier than the major bowls currently do: maybe the week leading up to Christmas. Most schools are out by then, and many or most people begin vacationing then.

Round One: December 17
Round Two: December 24
Round Three: Jan 1
Final: January 8

psychomatt

September 4th, 2009 at 8:30 PM ^

The biggest problem with most of the ideas out there is that one or more of the big conferences will not go along. The second biggest problem is that most of the ideas will so undercut the major bowls that traditionalists are appalled. So, instead of trying to come up with the perfect idea that is not going to happen, we should focus on pushing ideas that will get us closer to where we want to be (not perfect, but a step in the right direction) and which also resolve the objections of the major conferences.

There is one idea already out there that does this. It is an eight team playoff. An eight team playoff will more or less determine the national champion on the field while still keeping the major bowls in tact. It also generates more money for everyone. Again, it is not perfect, but if the additional money is divided in a way that disproportionately helps the non-BCS conferences, it is a solution that should appeal to just about everyone.

The four major bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta) would be the first round. The major bowls would retain their traditional match-ups with automatic bids to the conference winners (e.g. Big Ten v. Pac Ten champs against each other in the Rose Bowl) with two at large berths. This works for several reasons. One, the major bowls still are very important (maybe more so than now, because to win the national championship you must make it to a major bowl and then win it). Two, the regular season matters because you must win your conference to get a bid. Three, the money flow from the major bowls to the BCS conferences is undisturbed. Four, the objection of the Big Ten that it will interfere with athletes' studies is pretty much laid to rest. This is because the schedule for the first round of the playoff is unchanged, and then there are only four teams left that must play later in January. Four teams play one extra week and two teams play two extra weeks. I guarantee you that athletes who have a chance to make it to the final four and/or championship games will gladly find a way to catch up their studies after those games are over. Five, and this is the best part, I cannot remember any year in which a team ranked 9th or lower has had a real beef that they were the best team in the country. USC, Auburn, Penn State, Texas, Michigan -- they were all ranked eighth or higher in the final BCS poll before the bowl games.

There are a couple of drawbacks. The obvious is that whoever is left out of the group of eight will complain. So, let them. The reality is unless you do a 120 team playoff, this will always be a problem, and if you do a 120 team playoff the regular season becomes almost pointless. Second, and this is the bigger problem, it eliminates two at large berths. This is a big problem and the non-BCS schools will howl about this. One solution is to throw money at them. Right now we have five BCS games. Under my proposal, there will be seven. That means two additional games with fantastic match-ups. This will generate tremendous tv ratings and money. If 50% of the addtional revenue (or some large percentage) is guaranteed to the non-BCS schools, they will have a strong incentive to go along. They would be trading the higher possibility of getting an at large berth under the current system for millions of guaranteed dollars each year under the new system. I think this is a trade off they would agree to make.

Again, this is an idea that is already out there and it is not perfect. But, insofar as it is the only playoff based solution that all of the BCS and non-BCS conferences might be willing to go along with, it seems to have the most merit.

sterling1213

September 4th, 2009 at 9:48 PM ^

If you are going to go this route. Why would the big 10 and big east agree to play a round of playoff games that would ensure that they never have a home field advantage and at least half of the time you would be playing a default road game? I would disagree that the bowls would be downgraded, Look at them now, they are an afterthought. I understand that they would be the first round but look at the regional for March Madness they don't really hold the same draw as the final four. Also why would you wait so long to start a playoff? It would be a second season after 3-6 weeks off. And if you are going to argue that they wouldn't want to play so many extra games, when my proposal has the same amount of games as yours, and one extra for some that participate in the bowl games in the beginning of the season. That argument doesn't stand up. It is also very naive to believe that the BCS teams are going to give up more money to keep certain teams out that is ridiculous. I am a hard core traditionalist who is willing to change the bowl system in order to save it. I am not sure why you believe that my proposal would not be acceptable and yours would be.

psychomatt

September 4th, 2009 at 10:41 PM ^

First, the reason the Big Ten and Big East would agree to play "away" games is because they have been doing it for decades. How can the Big Ten suddenly complain that they do not want to play in the Rose Bowl when they have been doing everything possible to keep their exclusive position in that bowl for sixty years? Second, it is not naive to think the BCS conferences would give up money to "keep certain teams out." Look at the modifications of the BCS over the past three contracts (even the recent one that forces the Rose Bowl to accept a non-BCS team under certain conditions). Each time they give way and allow the non-BCS teams more access they are giving up money ($17 million a pop). Do you think they want to do this? No. They are doing it because they need to do it to maintain the current structure. And don't forget that even if they give away a large portion of the extra revenue from the additional BCS games, they still will be making more money themselves.

Maybe a sixteen team playoff will work at some point, but I think it is too much of a jump for the big conferences. Start with eight and maybe over time you can get to sixteen. That is what the NCAA basketball tourney did. It began with 32 teams and grew and grew and grew until we got to 65 (I don't even want to discuss why it is 65 instead of 64).

sterling1213

September 4th, 2009 at 10:44 PM ^

But not using the Bowls to do it. As far as the Big ten agree to a whole new playoff system that requires them to play road half of the time. I understand that they do currently play road games but that system doesn't always and rarely leads to a national title. As a fan of the Big Ten this would a non starter for me and I am sure most of the Big Ten coach's. Do you think they would really say, "I know that we have had the bad end of the deal in the previous and current systems so why not continue to bend over and take it." To suggest that they would agree to a new system that puts them at a huge disadvantage would be extremely detrimental to the conference long term. Think about recruiting, I can already hear the negative recruiting. "Why would you want to go there? No one in their conference will win a national title. They are always going to be playing road games in the playoffs."

psychomatt

September 4th, 2009 at 11:00 PM ^

You are arguing that the Big Ten and Pac Ten are more likely to agree to moving the Rose Bowl to the beginning of the season than continue to play in it with an automatic bid for each as the first round of the playoffs at the end of the season? I don't see it. And there is a simple fix to this if it is as big of a problem as you suggest. Alternate the location. Every other year the Rose Bowl can be played in Big Ten country. The Orange Bowl is no longer played in the Orange Bowl and pretty soon the Cotton Bowl will no longer be played in the Cotton Bowl. I find this unlikely too (so are we gonna have the parade in the snow?), but it is more likely than moving the Rose Bowl to the beginning of the season. And at least there is precedent: the Rose Bowl was played in Durham, NC in 1942 because of WWII.

psychomatt

September 4th, 2009 at 11:21 PM ^

Say what? You want to move the bowls to September (or August). Do you really believe more people are going to travel from the Midwest to Pasadena to watch a Rose Bowl at the beginning of the season than are going to travel to watch the Big Ten champions play the Pac Ten champions on New Year's Day, with the winner moving on to the final four?

In fact, my proposal should enhance their status a bit. Under the current system, we watch PSU play USC in the Rose Bowl with no national championship implications because #1 and #2 are in another game. Under my system, the winner of the Rose Bowl moves on to the next round.

sterling1213

September 4th, 2009 at 11:25 PM ^

I believe that moving the bowls would kill them. Calling it the Rose Bowl and having it in Indy wouldn't make it the Rose Bowl. I would just like to say that is nice actually have a debate with someone without taking shots at one another and swearing every post. I am glad that there is actually a place that still has some people with some class. Thanks for the good debate.

psychomatt

September 4th, 2009 at 11:34 PM ^

Yeah, I agree. And I understand your passion and interest in a playoff. The best part about your idea is to have the first round as home games for the higher seed and then having regionals like the big dance. If we were starting from scratch, I would be all for it. But we are not. There are strong vested interests in the current system and I am trying to come up with something that will fly among those interests. Anything that threatens the money that automatically gets funneled to the big conferences under the current system gets shot down instantly, no matter how good of an idea it is. Peace.

psychomatt

September 4th, 2009 at 10:18 PM ^

The basis of my argument is to find something all the conferences might agree on that is still a playoff among the best teams. You asked why start so late? Two reasons. If you start before the major bowls, you unlock the automatic bids for the BCS conferences to those bowls. I can imagine virtually no scenario in which they will agree to this. Second, the Big Ten in particular always brings up the argument about athletes' ability to study for finals. By December it has been a long season and they want a break for academics. If you start too early, you will run up against this objection. My proposal is an attempt to take away these objections so we can move forward.

psychomatt

September 4th, 2009 at 11:06 PM ^

The twelfth game you want the major conferences to give up are big money makers. So are the conference championship games. That is another objection you need to deal with. Most of the major schools have used the twelfth game to add another home game to their schedules. That means a school like Michigan would have to give up about $4 million in revenue each year due to the loss of a home game. I would love to hear you explain to them why this is an idea they just cannot pass up.

psychomatt

September 4th, 2009 at 11:19 PM ^

If you spread the revenue over 120 teams, it will be tiny. If you limit it to the teams who make the playoffs, then most of the big programs risk losing millions of dollars per year because they gave up a home game. And, as you point out with the bowl games, this does not include all the revenue the college towns make (e.g. bars, restaurants, hotels) when 100,000 fans coming rolling in for that extra game.

sterling1213

September 4th, 2009 at 11:35 PM ^

The Peach Bowl is already playing a game at the beginning of the year and seems to be doing alright with it, and you wouldn't have to spread the money over 120 teams just the teams who make it. And the extra game is relatively new and wouldn't be that detrimental to the college town but would really hurt communities that have counted on that revenue for decades.