It’s officially now been over a month since the last update on The Meat Locker, to those other than my parents that read this blog regularly, I apologize for my lack of effort. At least my man Dave Myerson, and frequent guest-writer felt the need to step up and bring you another great read. Check out what Dave has to say in regards to the ending of the BCS and how he thinks the playoff system should be set up.
2013 has been a great year in college football. As we officially come to a close of the BCS era, and look ahead to the 4-team playoff, I can’t help to wonder, what’s so different? The 4-team playoff is a Band-Aid, and everyone knows it. Whether it’s a year or 10, this new system will be replaced with a full-fledge playoff. The fans want it, and it’s a shame the decision makers keep kicking the pebble down the road.
There are many views on how a FBS playoff should look, but in my opinion, everyone is missing one key point. If you win your conference, regardless of conference you should automatically qualify for the playoff. I know all you fans of the teams from the power conferences are shaking your head right now, but I’m a firm believer of this. It’s absolutely absurd that you have teams in FBS that work their butts off for months, and aren’t given a fair chance to compete. The competition in the five power conferences is much tougher, and this proposal will definitely take that into consideration, but the remaining 60 plus teams in FBS cannot be forgotten.
ESPN recently just broke a story that the power conferences are trying to use their power to get the NCAA to give them more advantages! That makes me shake my head. If you want more advantages, then create a new division. I would have no problem with this. That way the smaller schools have something to play for. If the power conferences, and the non-power conferences don’t want to split, then they really need to come up with a way to allow everyone to compete on an equal playing field. A FBS playoff is doable in responsible way to keep all parties involved happy.
The field will consist of 16 teams. Every team will have to join a conference, and independents will be eliminated (sorry Notre Dame fans). Each conference has to have at least 12 teams, so they can have a conference championship game. A few teams will have to be pulled up from the FCS ranks, but that’s ok. The winner of each of the 10 conferences automatically qualifies for the playoffs.
The remaining six slots will go to six wild card teams. The wild cards shall be the six highest ranked teams in the final BCS rankings that did not win their conference. There won’t be any restrictions on how many teams a conference can have in the playoff. This way stronger conferences are rewarded for having quality teams. Also, you keep in play the ranking system, which is a huge point of contention with people who are resisting change.
The rankings will also play an important part into how the teams are seeded. The winners of the 5 power conferences will be seeded 1-5, based off the final BCS rankings. They will play the winners of the 5 non-power conferences in the first round. The highest ranked non-power conference winner will play the #5 seed, and the lowest ranked will play the number 1 seed, etc.…
This way teams that win their conference are “rewarded” for doing so. More often than not, the winners of the non-power conferences won’t be as quality of an opponent as the six wild card teams. Teams from power conferences should be rewarded for winning their league, and this proposal is a fair way to give the smaller schools a chance, while still accomplishing this.
The six wild card teams will then face off against one another in the first round. They will be seeded 1-6 in order how they appear in the rankings, and the top three shall play the bottom three. The wild card teams will face a tougher test in the first round because they didn’t win their conference.
Moving forward in the playoffs, the highest remaining seed will face the lowest remaining seed. The six wild card teams will be considered higher seeds than the five winners from the non-power conferences. This is so the highest ranked conference winners continue to get the most favorable match ups, as higher seeds should.
If we were to apply this proposal to the current season, the playoff field would look like this:
|1. Florida State vs. Louisiana- Lafayette
||2. Auburn vs. Rice
|3. Michigan State vs. Bowling Green
||4. Stanford vs. Fresno State
|5. Baylor vs. Central Florida
||WC 1. Alabama vs. WC 6. Oklahoma
|WC 2. Ohio State vs. WC 5. Oregon
||WC 3. Missouri vs. WC 4. South Carolina
Many people argue that a playoff would take too long, and be too many games for the kids. There would have to be some minor adjustments to the schedule, but nothing major that can’t be accomplished.
From the opening weekend of August 27th until the conference title games on December 7th there were 15 weeks in the college football season this year. Auburn and Michigan State for example, played 13 games in this 15-week period, eight league games, four out of conference, one conference championship game, and had two bye weeks.
The adjustment would be to lower the regular season games from 12 to 10. Keep the 8 league games, and have 2 non-conference games, but make a rule against teams from FBS playing FCS teams. The occasional upset, such as North Dakota State beating Kansas State this year or Appalachian State’s big win vs. Michigan a few years ago, wouldn’t be possible, but to get a playoff it’s worth it to miss out on the blowout that occurs almost 100% of the time. Keeping the 2 bye weeks, there would then be a 12-week regular season, and the conference championship games would be in week 13, which this year was November 23rd.
A 16-team playoff would take 4 weeks of games to complete. There should be a week off between the conference title games and the first round of the playoffs, which would start on December 7th. A week between the semi-finals and championship game would put the title game on January 4th, the exact same timeline as the current season, so no one can complain about the season running too long.
The final tally on number of games played is 15 for the teams that make it to the title game. Currently, for teams that win their conference and play in a bowl game, they play in 14 games. One extra game is not make or break for these teams, especially if it gets everyone a fair playoff.
The biggest barrier to an expanded playoff is the current system of bowl games. There is hundreds of millions of dollars generated from bowl games that get paid out to all the different conferences. Many against change cite this as the main reason not to do a playoff. I say why can’t we have both?
As a college football fan, I love bowl season. It’s very exciting seeing some different match ups that one doesn’t typically get to see. That’s why we keep the bowl games, and still have a playoff.
The bowls will act similar to how the NIT tournament works for college basketball. All the teams that are bowl eligible, which don’t qualify for the playoffs, still play in bowl games. The bowls and conferences keep their historical alliances, and the fans still get to see some great match ups. Obviously, since 16 teams are being removed from the equation there might be a couple less bowl games, but that is a fair price for a playoff.
The schedule for bowls can stay the exact same, since the championship game is still set for the same time. The bowls will still generate the revenue they need. Fans of those teams will travel, television networks will stay pay to broadcast the games, sponsors will still pay to sponsor the games, and companies will still buy add time on air.
To make up for the loss of the big time BCS bowl games, the semi-finals and championship game of the playoffs should be played at neutral sites. Currently the 4 team college football playoff is slated to use a 6 site rotating schedule, and I have no problem adopting what the NCAA has already agreed to, since the powers at be seem to be happy with the set up. The first 2 rounds of the playoffs will be played at the home site of the higher seed.
A college football playoff that is fair to every single team in FBS is within our grasp. The NCAA needs to stop punting the issue down the road, and make this happen for the good of the game and it’s fans.