Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Daily Discussion: Playoff Format

Slowly but surely, the things we dreamed about in years past are starting to come to fruition. The Frogs got their long-deserved spot in the Big 12, people carry around computers in their pockets and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss finally found a watchable post-Seinfeld role.  Flying cars still seem like they're a ways off, but a college football playoff seems as if it is coming sooner than later.

One problem, though: the powers that be can't decide on a format. Unfortunately, most of the folks who actually have a say in this discussion are focused on dollar signs instead of what would be best for college football as a whole.

The Big Ten and Pac 12, due to their long-time affiliation with the Rose Bowl, would prefer a plus-one format that would preserve the traditional bowl schedule.  In that scenario, two teams would be chosen to play in a national title game after the bowl games.  While I'm sure there would be provisions to allow Notre Dame or teams from other conferences to play for the title if they deserved a shot, this seems to me like it is just cutting the number of conferences on the inside of the championship eligibility criterion from six in the current BCS to four.  That would ostensibly make the Big Ten champ vs. the Pac 12 champ in the Rose Bowl one national semifinal, and the Big 12 champ vs. the SEC champ in the recently proposed "Champions Bowl" the other.  I know TCU would be on the inside of this system, but I still think it reeks of the kind of exclusivity that limits the full potential of college football nationwide.

If the Big 12 and SEC had their way, though, there would be a true four-team playoff with conference affiliation- and conference championship status- having no bearing on who is chosen to participate.  While this "open" format could be spun as being fair to everyone, the intent is not nearly as altruistic.  The folks in SEC country, of course, believe that their 10th or 11th place team could beat any other conference's champion with their freshmen and a few swoopy-haired and bourbon-breathed frat boys out of the bleachers.  They'd like nothing more than an all-SEC field, but would likely settle for 2-3 SEC teams getting in any given year.  I understand that they want to look out for their own bottom line, but I'd also hope that people who had risen to positions of such power could also have the ability to think a little more globally.  It's hard to argue against the four best teams being included in the playoff field, but doesn't that make the conference championships (not to mention the regular season) fairly pointless?  And aren't those championship games the reason for expanding conference to twelve or more teams in the first place? 

As a college football fan that just wants to watch as many highly-compelling games as possible during the season, I'd like to see a four (and maybe eventually eight) team playoff featuring only conference champions.  I fully understand that the second-place team in the SEC is probably a better title contender than, say, the champion of the Pac 12 in a down year.  I also understand that a championship-caliber TCU team could potentially finish 2nd in the Big 12 and be left out.  If that were to happen, I'm sure I'd be mad.  But I think there is something to the thought of protecting the integrity of the regular season and the sanctity of a conference championship.  Limiting the playoff field to only conference championships not only makes every game count the way they have under the old bowl structure and the BCS, it's also much healthier for college football as a whole.  Providing access to a potential championship to more teams will equal increased fan support at a higher number of schools which will in turn provide more scholarships for young student-athletes.  Isn't that the real purpose of this whole thing?

So let's say you're suddenly given the role of college football playoff czar.  How would you set it up? How many teams would be involved?  How would you preserve the bowl games, if at all?  Which of the playoff formats favored by the real-life power brokers is most appealing to you?


LOLfolding said...

16 team playoff with 11 conference champions and 5 at large bids selected by committee not necessarily by ranking (similar to the basketball tournament). Games to be played on campus with top ranked teams hosting. I'm sorry if your team has to travel far away and your fans can't make it. Tough cookies, better luck next time.

The money grubbing bowl games can go F themselves. The money spent on college football games should go to the colleges. I have no regrets cutting that fat out of the system.

John Jochetz said...

8 team playoff. You must win your conference to be selected (Big 12, SEC, ACC, Big East, Big 10, Pac 12, C-USA, At Large). For the at large position (8th seed) there will be a play in game. This game can be played between the highest ranked 2nd place team or any other team that is worthy. But what about ND? As Czar I will force them to join a real conference. The first round is played on the higher seeded team's home field. Second round at a neutral site. NC is played on rotating current BCS stadium.

FrogHorn07 said...

In 1978 the Division 1-AA (FCS)started a playoff format with four teams. By 1981 the field was increased to 8, then 12 in 1982. In 1986 it was expanded to 16 teams with auto-bids to the conference champs. In 2010 it was expanded to 20 teams. Next year it is expanding to 24 teams.

This is the bracket creep that everyone knows is coming to the FBS playoff. Just give it a little time and we will have a 24-team bracket with auto-bids for conference champions. Should this have exsisted last year here is the field based on the AP poll.


8-Va Tech


5-South Carolina
12-La Tech*




6-Mich St
11- Arkansas St*



4-Boise St

12-Northern Ill*

2-Oklahoma St*

10-Southern Miss*


11-West Virginia*

* Conference Champion auto-bid

Rex Kramer said...

I agree with a lot of what LOL has, but have a few tweaks of my own. 16-team playoff. Selections made and first round games just like LOL details above. Bring in two more big bowls (Cotton & Capital One?) to the existing biggies (Rose, Fiesta, Orange & Sugar) to rotate each year for quarter and semi finals. Current affiliations be damned. Sorry Rose Bowl. National championship at a neutral site.

ND must join a conference and payouts drastically changed to have a majority of the money go back to the schools involved in the games.

As for what is being debated, I'm in favor of the 4-team playoff but would want a conference championship required to be eligible. No more championship games like we had last year.

FrogHorn07 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ThatGuy said...

8 team playoff seeded (1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, etc). higher seed hosts game until championship. eliminated teams play in 3 of the traditional bowls (rose, orange, fiesta, sugar)while the 4th is rotated every year for the national championship. you keep the bowl system in tact because, lets face it, they are a battle for 3rd-8th final rankings anyways.

Laces out Finkle said...

12 team playoff similar to some of the others above with a few minor changes. 6 conference champions and 6 at-large teams. The 6 conference champions would represent the "power conferences": Big 12, ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Pac 12, and SEC. The 6 at-large qualifiers would be the 6 highest ranking teams from the following categories:
1.) conference champion from non-power conference(ex:Boise State)
2.) non-conference champion from one of the 6 power conferences (ex:LSU if Alabama wins the SEC)
3.) 1A Independent (ex:Notre Dame)
All 6 at-large teams could represent one category from above or a mixture. For example, the 2012playoffs could look a little like this....numbers in parentheses representing overall seeding:

Big 12: TCU (5)
ACC: Virginia Tech (8)
Big East: Cincinnati (12)
Big Ten: Ohio State (9)
Pac 12: USC (2)
SEC: Alabama (1)

At large: LSU (3)
Notre Dame (11)
West Virginia (6)
Boise State (7)
Oklahoma (10)
Oregon (4)

Top 6 seeds have first round home field advantage. After 6 teams are eliminated then you can move on to neutral sites at major bowl venues.