I used to hate the idea of a college football playoff. I have changed my mind.
I enjoy Division 1 college football and I know that the NCAA crowns football champions in its other divisions by means of playoffs. I enjoy rewarding teams that have had success a trip to a warm-weather bowl game. I enjoy the drama of the NCAA D-1 men’s basketball tournament and think a playoff in football would offer not only drama but also provide the athletes a much better opportunity to prove, on the field, who is the national champion. I also know that, as the NCAA advertisement says, most of these kids will “go pro” in something other than football. They’re students, and they need to turn back to academics after the New Year.
After reading several proposals over the past couple years, including the 16 team proposal by Dan Wetzel that I read today and the earlier eight team proposal by Sports Illustrated (Sorry, I cannot find the link.), here is a modest D-1 football playoff proposal.
NCAA D-1 Football Playoff Proposal
|Last Sat in Nov:||Conference Championships|
|1st Sat in Dec:||No games|
|2nd Sat in Dec:||Round of 16*|
|3rd Sat in Dec:||Round of 8*|
|4th Sat in Dec:||Bowls|
|Dec 31st:||Great Bowls|
|Jan 1st:||Great Bowls + Final 4|
|Following Sat:||National Championship|
I think I like Weztel’s idea to give automatic bids to the conference champions. I’m not sure about the NCAA basketball-style selection committee for the five at-large bids. I might like borrowing from the old SI proposal and just use the BCS formula to award the remaining available bids.
Quite frankly, I would rather require these athletes and staffs to go home on Thanksgiving weekend or catch up on school work, but a lot of these conferences will have championship games and it looks like that is the weekend for them. After the conference championship Saturday, it makes sense to give the playoff teams an extra week to rest and prepare for the round of 16. The high seeds get the reward of playing at home for rounds one and two, but I offer this caveat: give the home team 70-80% of the tickets and let the home team decide where the game is played.
I make this last suggestion because many of these schools are “northern” and would be playing in December. For example, though Michigan’s “Big House” is a phenomenal location, it can be pretty nasty weather-wise in Ann Arbor in mid-December. If beautiful Ford Field in Detroit were available and you gave the team 80% of the tickets at a venue like that, they might say that’s the way to go.
The proposed schedule provides another break around the Christmas holiday. This gives some time for the playoff teams and their families to get together, but also provides opportunities for the existing bowl games that operate. In that week following Christmas the bowls operate up through the the late afternoon of January 1st.
It might make sense with the Dec 31 and Jan 1 bowls to call them (for lack of a better name at this time) the “Great Bowls.” These bowls may have some formula, perhaps allowing those defeated in the rounds of 16 and 8 an opportunity to compete against other teams.
My proposal suggests that January first have the football version of the Final Four at night, with the first game at around 6pm and then have the national championship game on the following Saturday.
All of this get us a reasonably undisputed national champion, keeps the regular season very meaningful, grants independents and BCS-busters like Boise State a real shot, keeps bowls and the warm weather travel opportunity, and gets it all done before everyone has to show up for the second semester.
This surely doesn’t consider everything, but that is not my interest. My interest is summarized in the paragraph above. What do you think?