Will the Real National Champion Please Stand Up?

Let me just start by throwing a HUGE WTH to VaTech getting an at-large nod over Kansas St and Boise St.  Seriously, SERIOUSLY, and honestly too, I could write all day about how VaTech’s best win came week 3 over Arkansas St.  Why?  Because ASU is ranked higher at the end of the season than any other team VaTech faced.  But I digress.

With all this talk of the Bowl Championship Series struggling to deal with getting the two best teams in their prestigious National Championship game, let me stake my claim to a pure playoff system. 

Let me begin by stating I encourage feedback on anything you like about the system I will propose.  Or if you think I’m a crazed looney for even bringing this topic up, let me have it!  One thing is for sure: the BCS, much like the Bowl Alliance, have failed in putting the best teams in their coveted money-making bowls.  Yes, I’m truly a BYU fan.  And yes, I believe it was Byu’s 14-1 season in 1996 that ultimately collapsed the Bowl Alliance, which rang in the next money corrupted system, The Big Bad BCS.

So without further discussion, I unveil my proposed 12-team playoff system.  Because it works so well in the FCS, I glean from them how to perform such a playoff, with my own twists.  In the FCS, teams have no bye weeks during the regular season and most only play 11 games. And no FCS conference has a ‘championship game’.

First, the automatic qualifiers.  There are 11 current conferences in the BC, plus independents.  I am all for each of them getting a chance to get in the playoff scenario.  Therefore, your BCS powerhouses, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 12 and ACC get an auto bid no matter status, record or otherwise.  Notice I did not say Big East in their, because I don’t believe them to be on the same echelon as the other conferences from top to bottom. 

Second, here’s how the rest of the conferences qualify.  Fit this description and ‘welcome to the party’…you’ve got a shot at a national title.  First, your team must have 9 wins, assuming an 11 game schedule.  Second, your team must win your conference outright. For independents, 9 wins and a top 12 ranking in the BCS poll will get you in.

I’ve received some flak over this, mainly for strength of schedule sake.  But I feel this would be a good addition on a few levels.  Initially, it keeps the idea of having a ‘dream season’ for a mid-major in tact while not negating them the idea of not knowing really what could have been.  Next, it should also come as a relief to BCS bums that run the system knowing that a few conferences each season would be eliminated from the playoff system, thus adding more at-large, powerhouse schools to get in.  Third, I think it would actually boost the viewership of some late season matchups from non-aq conferences, just to see if another at-large spot is lost or opened.  Since when would you ever hear that Michigan might be a Troy Trojan fan?  Because in the proposed system, Arkansas State would need to beat Troy in order to solidify their ticket to the playoff.  Troy beats ASU, they fall to a tie and not an outright conference championship.  That loss could open up just enough at large spots for Michigan to get a bid. 

Last, the number of remaining At-Large spots goes to the highest ranked teams in the BCS rankings not already in the playoff.   Taking this year as an example, there would be 5 at-large spots (see below).

Now comparing the current system, which included the following teams for this year’s BCS bowl schedule:

  1. LSU
  2. Alabama
  3. Clemson
  4. WVU
  5. Michigan
  6. VaTech
  7. OkSt
  8. Stanford
  9. Oregon
  10. Wisconsin

To my proposed playoff system would include the following teams in no particular order:

  1. LSU (Sec Auto)
  2. Oregon (Pac Auto)
  3. Clemson (ACC Auto)
  4. OkSt (Big XII Auto)
  5. Wisc. (Big X Auto)
  6. Arkansas St. (Mid-Maj Auto)
  7. TCU (Mid-Maj Auto)
  8. Alabama (At-Large)
  9. Stanford (At-Large)
  10. Boise St. (At-Large)
  11. Arkansas (At-Large)
  12. Kansas St. (At-Large)

To me, these teams comprise a very talented field to which we understand that a true National Champion will come.  Now, the fun part; RE-RANK time!  We give yet some more control to the BCS crumb bums by letting them re-rank the 12 teams based on the best overall teams.  This ranking would allow for at-large teams to still have the chance at a first-round bye, instead of give auto-bids an automatic bye.   The re-rank of the top 12 teams would look something like this:

  1. LSU
  2. Alabama
  3. Oklahoma St.
  4. Stanford
  5. Oregon
  6. Arkansas
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Boise St.
  9. Kansas St.
  10. Clemson
  11. TCU
  12. Arkansas St.

Now that they’re ranked, it gets pretty simple from here.  Top 4 get opening round bye and will get a second round home game versus first round winners.  5-12 will pair off as 5/12, 6/11, 7/10 and 8/9, with 5-8 ranks getting opening round home game.  Winner of 8/9 game gets the #1 seed, 7/10 gets the 2 seed, 6/11 gets the 3 seed and 5/12 gets the 4 seed.  Keep winning until a National Champion is crowned!

This is where I get a little fuzzy.  How do we fit in all the traditional BCS games in to this system?  It seems like there could be some logistics problems by playing bowl games in consecutive weeks for winning teams and still attempted to get top revenue.  But trying to give the BCS their coveted bowl atmosphere, there could and should be room to add the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange Bowls, as well as possibly Cotton and Gator Bowls in to this scenario.  It’s not my intention to eliminate any bowl games or venues. 

As far as the other bowl games go, let them play as scheduled.  The biggest draw for football teams to go to a bowl game is to get 10-20 extra days practice.  Yet, they are still huge draws to cities that host the games, there are still good football teams out there, and there is still a lot of money to be made by television contracts.

This proposal seems exciting, logical and fair.  You truly would get the National Champion from this system.  Yet, much like Congress, I have no hope of the BCS losing so much control of their system as to allow for a true playoff.  The BCS is driven by greed and big corporate money, much like Congress.  And we shouldn’t think that systemic change is on the horizon.  But can you just imagine the potential matchups we could have this year along the way to crowning a National Champion in this system?  I think we can make it work…Who’s with me?

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One Response to Will the Real National Champion Please Stand Up?

  1. Matt says:

    1 – VT’s inclusion is a direct slap in the face of Boise St, TCU, Kansas St, Baylor (especially if RGIII is a Heisman hopeful) or even Oklahoma. VT lost twice, to Clemson, by a lot of points. Losing conference championship games is usually a sure ticket out of the BCS so why did VT not get the boot?
    2 – I’m going to have a hard time watching the NC game. Bama’s inclusion is so awful I will be pulling for a huge LSU victory. Miles’ statement about it didn’t feel genuine but rather party line and Saban’s defense of his team is just stupid. I don’t care IF you are the top two team in the country – you already lost to your opponent once, at home. You don’t deserve a rematch and you don’t deserve a shot to win it all. How is that fair to LSU who already won once. They don’t get a shot since their first win didn’t matter one iota. Just stupid.
    3 – A revision of the system is in order, I just wish it would come sooner than later.

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