Answer to the BCS Mess

Submitted by Enjoy Life on November 12th, 2008 at 3:06 PM

What about a college football playoff that:
Keeps All Current Bowl Games In Place
Includes 16 Teams
Limits Additional Games
Reduces the Need/Desire for Teams to Schedule “Non-Competitive” Games
Retains most traditional bowl match ups

Impossible? Not really, here it is:

All 6 BCS conferences will have two divisions (ACC, Big 12, and SEC already have this in place). Big East, Big 10, and Pac 10 will have the option to add teams and split into 2 divisions. If Big East, Big 10, and/or Pac 10 do not want to split into divisions, there would be more “at large” teams. All conferences may add teams if they want up to a maximum of 10 teams per division.

Schedule will consist of 12 regular season games. Teams may NOT play more than 3 non-conference games.

Playoff will consist of 16 teams
The 12 Division winners automatically qualify. Plus an additional 4 “at-large” bids determined by BCS ranking.

First round of the playoffs (16 teams) will be the same as the current Conference championships (played the week after the regular season ends) plus playoffs between the 4 at-large” teams. BCS ranking will determine the home team.

Second round of the playoffs (8 teams) will be the following week. Home team determined the same as for the first round.

Third round of the playoffs (4 teams) will be on New Year’s Day at two of the existing bowl games.

Championship game will be the next week at an existing bowl game (like it is now).

All teams that do not make the final 4 are eligible to play in any of the other bowl games (just like now).



November 12th, 2008 at 3:40 PM ^

You lost me at "at large positions determined by BCS rankings."

If it's not a good enough system to pick two teams, it's not good enough to pick any number of playoff teams either. Period.

(Scratched out oops paragraph that was the result of me misreading the OP's last paragraph.)

But what's the point of having national semifinals and calling it the "Sugar Bowl"? That's not "maintaining the bowl structure", it's just a weak, watered-down way to claim to keep the traditionalists happy. Nobody would proudly display a Sugar Bowl trophy if they lost the next game.

And, I would add, fans aren't going to travel to more than one neutral-site game. Witness BC fans last year, who helped make the CS Bowl the best-attended one in over a decade, but didn't go to Jacksonville at all for the ACCCG.


November 12th, 2008 at 3:48 PM ^

it can't pick the top 2 because it really is too hard to say who the top 2 actually are. but when you're talking about 4 at-large teams (keeping in mind that the "top 2" are already in as conference champs) then these teams already have some sort of flaw to the point where they really have no right to bitch if they don't make the field. either win your conference or risk not being an at-large. it's simple enough.


November 12th, 2008 at 3:59 PM ^

"but when you're talking about 4 at-large teams (keeping in mind that the "top 2" are already in as conference champs) then these teams already have some sort of flaw to the point where they really have no right to bitch if they don't make the field."

So in other words it doesn't matter which four flawed teams we choose? That's how I've always read the "#17 (or #9 or whatever) team has no right to complain because of their flaws" argument. It's pretty clear that there's a much bigger muddle in the middle tiers of the rankings than the top.


November 12th, 2008 at 4:01 PM ^

you solve all your problems by just winning your conference. the whole point is to win a national title. i'd think if you can win a national title, you should probably win your conference. so really, i don't see why a team would bitch if it wasn't an at-large team when all they really had to do is win the conference.


November 12th, 2008 at 10:00 PM ^

Keeps the importance of winning every game that makes college football more exciting week to week than the NFL. You can't make everyone happy (even basketball leaves people out w/ 64 teams). Better to leave out teams in the #15th to #20th ranked than our current system where you are leaving out teams in the #3-#6 ranked that may have one loss and as much of an argument as the #2 team to be in the NC game.

Enjoy Life

November 12th, 2008 at 3:56 PM ^

The "at large" bids are equivalent to the "wild card" in most playoffs.

What happens if the team that finishes second in a division has just a single loss? They don't make the conference championship but deserve to make the playoffs. Hence the at-large bids.

The last 2 rounds are the same as a proposed change to the BCS that would take the top 4 teams. Also, this is done is other sports (hockey). I bet most fans will stick around for another week if their team is in the national championship.

It that is a big problem. Play the third round at the home field of the teams involved.


November 12th, 2008 at 3:47 PM ^

Your first round doesn't really make sense. Going by this year's standings, you'd have Florida play Bama in the first round, with the looser out of the playoffs. In your "at large" bracket, you could end up with MSU playing Ball St. with the winner advancing. So you put a 10-15th ranked team (or two) into the second round, while a team that won its division who would ordinarily fall to 5th or so after loosing its conference championship, totally out.

If you seeded after the conference championship, the SEC looser would have a prime shot at an at large birth. You also in a hypothetical of hypotheticals, left out Michigan in 06, assuming that the UM-OSU game was a conference championship.

I'm sure Brian's mgoplayoff proposal is floating around this site somewhere. It's 12 teams, played after the conference championships with the first round played on campus. It's probably the best one that's out there.

Enjoy Life

November 12th, 2008 at 3:59 PM ^

Guess what, Florida and Bama are playing this year in a conference playoff and the loser will be out of the MNC.

I don't like Brian's scenario. It does not emphasize conference records. It does not discourage cup-cake scheduling.

Sorry for the blasphemy!


November 12th, 2008 at 4:46 PM ^

But it doesn't take place in the first round of a national playoff, where other, lower ranked teams are almost automatically still IN (woo caps) the MNC. You're basically saying that your system is good because it's no worse than what happens now? Aren't you proposing a solution to fix the screwed-up things that happen now?

Your solution to discouraging cupcake scheduling is more in your plan for conference realignment and schedule restrictions than in the playoff. Playing Indiana (one more conference game) rather than Miami-Ohio wouldn't really change anything, though.

You can play three cupcakes and still make it into the top 16 or whatever it would take to get an at large bid so I don't really see how your plan takes care of that either.

If you want to reduce cupcaking, then the NCAA should go back to not allowing wins over I-AA teams to count in a team's BCS score. That'd be a start.

Enjoy Life

November 12th, 2008 at 11:04 PM ^

Since the primary criteria for making the playoffs is the Conference Record, tougher non-conference games that are losses aren't a problem. So, teams can schedule tougher non-conference games (especially if they believe this will better prepare them for the conference games).


November 12th, 2008 at 3:58 PM ^

5 at-large bids. as of right now, under that system you'd have these teams in the playoffs (assuming conference champs based on ranking or standing):

North Carolina (ACC...i just picked the highest rank. too jumbled here), Pitt (Big East), Penn State (Big Ten), Texas Tech (Big 12), Tulsa (CUSA), Ball State (MAC), Utah (Mountain West), USC (Pac-10), Alabama (SEC), ULL (Sun Belt), Boise State (WAC), Texas (At-large #1), Oklahoma (At-large #2), Georgia (At-large #3), Ohio State (At-large #4), Missouri (At-large #5) Top team left out: Oklahoma State. Would they really have that big of a gripe? Here would be round 1 of the playoff:

16. Tulsa @ 1. Alabama

15. Pitt @ 2. Texas Tech

14. North Carolina @ 3. Texas

13. Ball State @ 4. Florida

12. Missouri @ 5. Oklahoma

11. Ohio State @ 6. USC

10. Georgia @ 7. Utah

9. Boise State @ 8. Penn State


November 12th, 2008 at 4:10 PM ^

Adding ULL drops Missouri out, too. The chance that Oregon State wins out could also drop Ohio State out, not a bad thing.
My version would also give the conference champ the home game so you'd have #4 Florida @ # 13 UNC, #3 Texas @ #14 Pitt and the best one #5 Oklahoma @ #12 Ball State.

Ninja Football

November 12th, 2008 at 3:59 PM ^

16 possible games for the eventual Championship game opponents? Never happen. And by "never", I mean there's a better chance of Brian munging the post-op corpse of Woody Hayes than this happening.

Brewers Yost

November 12th, 2008 at 5:04 PM ^

8 Teams:
1. 6 BCS conference champions are automatically in.
2. 2 at large bids go to: Two highest ranked (By BCS system) non-conference champs. Insert Notre Dame and mid-major exception here.
3. Higher ranked team (BCS) gets home games in playoff.
4. Keep all the bowl games
5. Current BCS bowls are for championship game and serve as consolation games for teams eliminated from the playoffs.

I agree with the points about limiting number of regular season games.


November 12th, 2008 at 5:32 PM ^

What if (like this year) there are 3 undefeated non-BCS teams? All three have beaten a BCS team, and there are only 2 available at large spots. How do you determine which undefeated team gets left out? And even if you only take 2 of them, then there are NO at large bids for BCS teams?


November 12th, 2008 at 7:43 PM ^

Why not have 10 teams? 6 BCS conference champions, 2 BCS at large, and 2 non-BCS at Large. Have the the BCS at large teams play the non-BCS at large teams at the higher ranked team's stadium as two wild card games.

Then the first round would be played at all of the BCS Bowls, the final Game rotates just like it does now, and the middle round is played at the two bowls that are not this year's nor last year's Championship bowl.

Enjoy Life

November 12th, 2008 at 11:15 PM ^

Dude, you just described my 16 team format with different words!!!!

The first round I proposed IS the current conference playoffs!!

The only difference is my proposal creates additional "pseudo conference championships" to allow more teams to participate.

The advantage is that more teams are psyched at the end of the season trying to make the playoffs. And, if you get a year when Non BCS schools end up undefeated or two schools in the same division end up with 0 or 1 loss (e.g. M & osu two years ago) there is room to accommodate.

Brewers Yost

November 12th, 2008 at 6:02 PM ^

I would have the at-large exception read something like:

A. After the 6 BCS conference champions are determined the remaining two atlarge bids go to the highest ranked (BCS) teams that are not BCS conference champions.


B. Mid-major exception: Whatever the current ruling is. I think BCS top 12? (Applies to one team only)

C. ND exception: Not sure what it is now but I would probably have something like:
1. They are automatically in if they are BCS top ten
2. An alternative (that would probably be more ND friendly) they would get in if they had a higher BCS ranking than the lowest 2 or 3 BCS conference champions.

Brewers Yost

November 12th, 2008 at 6:23 PM ^

I am going by current BCS rankings and the assumption that the higher ranked teams win their conference.

1) Bama
2) Texas Tech
3) USC
4) PSU
5) North Car.
6) Pitt
7) Utah
8) Texas*

First round matchups:

Pitt @ Bama
North Car. @ Texas Tech
Utah @ USC
Texas @ PSU**

* Based on current BCS
** Although the at-large winner will probably be ranked higher than PSU going by BCS. I would have a rule where BCS conference champ wins the home game over a BCS conference team who is an at-large. However, this is nickle and dime stuff at this point I would be ok if you just went by BCS rankings outright for home team.


November 12th, 2008 at 6:31 PM ^

What if you give the BCS conference champs a bye (most will have already played in a conference championship game) and then take 8 at-large bids. Thats a total of 14 teams. you could designate 4 of the at-large bids to non-bcs connference slots (i.e. take the four best mid-majors regardless of conference as determined by bcs ranking and as long as they have beaten a bcs conference team) Other slots go to bcs conference teams.

eh....I don't really like it, but just throwing it out there.


November 12th, 2008 at 7:48 PM ^

Can we say that teams may not play more that 3 non-BCS teams instead of non-Conference? That would allow the Big Ten to keep 8 games in conference and force one non-conference BCS team to try to demonstrate strength/weakness of the conference.

Enjoy Life

November 12th, 2008 at 11:25 PM ^

Whenever you don't play all the teams in your conference, there will always be potential travesties when 2 good teams don't play each other.

The PAC ten was the only conference that added a conference game when the 12th game was added.

It will be impossible for some conferences (Like the Big10) to schedule every team. But, the more conference games the better.

Are you saying that playing Div II non-conference games are better than a conference game??

Look what the Big10 does with basketball. Instead of playing every other school twice, teams schedule non-conference games against Michigan Tech instead.

This is F'd up (we only play Sparty once this year).


November 13th, 2008 at 3:19 AM ^

With a 12 team conference, you split the conference into two divisions. You play all 5 teams in your division and 3 out of 6 in the other. The best teams in the two divisions play each other for conference champion. So if your team wins the conference championship it means that you are the best of 6 and are better than the best of the other 6. I don't see how that would be a problem.

I think you may have misunderstood what I said. What I was suggesting was instead of forcing a 9th conference game in the Big10, force them to play another BCS team. If they choose to play another Big10 team that is fine, but when our team gets rolling, I would rather see them play USC, Texas, LSU, Florida, etc than Indiana or Iowa, the two teams that we missed this year.

Enjoy Life

November 13th, 2008 at 9:46 AM ^

It basically comes down to: the fewer games you play in conference the more likely teams will be tied (even in a division) since more games just don't count in the conference standings. Now, how do you break the ties for the conference championship?

You're right. Most years it won't matter but why take the chance.

Also, I'm really opposed to playing 1/3 of your total games out of conference while avoiding playing in conference. B'ball does this now just to schedule cup cakes to pad the record and hopefully get into the tournament (and, of course, be eliminated in the first round -- whooo, hoooo).

BTW, I'm sure Penn State would have rather played a non-conference game instead of Iowa this year!