Every year the monotonous and painful debate begins between those who adore the ever-flawed BCS and those who dream about a minimally flawed playoff system. As the debates rage on there are a number of different avenues they inevitably travel down and this process would eliminate one argument, while making another more difficult to defend. As I have gone on record with before, I believe college football needs to retract to 96 teams, or 8 different 12 team conferences and this is where the fun begins.
These eight different conferences would then be divided into four regions that battle for position to enter into the Final Four. This is where the answer to one of the chief arguments against a playoff comes in, the argument that it would be too expensive for fans to follow their teams to three or four different sites for playoff games. If the fans are traveling to a regional site for the first of the playoff games, it would be much akin to a regular season road game. Most fans, as we see every year in college football, have no problem making it to a regional road game.
How would these regions be aligned? Simple, you divide them up based on the conferences that I selected to survive my version of college football’s food chain. The Pac 10 and Mountain West would make up the West Region, the ACC and Big East would make up the East Region, the Big 12 and Big 10 would be the Central Region and the SEC and Conference USA would be the South Region. These pairings are partly regional (Pac 10 and Mountain West for example) and partly because of conference dominance (SEC getting matched with C-USA instead of Big 12 or Big 10).
Now, what do you do with the regions once you’ve got them all drawn up? You allow four teams from each region to move into a “regional” like the NCAA tournament and this is your first regional. Two are automatic bids by winning their conference championship and the other two are wild cards, chosen by the regional selection committee that I will discuss in another article. All teams will play 11 regular season games (eight conference games) and will eliminate the conference championship game. The champions get to host first round games and their opponents (wild cards) will be paired based on proximity to the champion’s home turf.
Winners of these games will then move on to the “regional final” where they will play at a pre-determined site as central as possible to the region as a whole. Winners of the regional final will move on to the Final Four which will play on New Year’s Day in back-to-back games at two different sites that are pre-determined much like the NCAA Basketball Tournament does now. Winners of the Final Four will then move on to the Championship Game, also played at a pre-determined site two weeks after the Final Four is over.
A chief argument against a 16 team playoff is this, it takes too much time from the classroom for the players! However, by eliminating the conference championship game you are maxing out at a possible 15 games, only two teams will play this many. Two others will play 14 (like many do now) and four others will play 13 (very common now) while eight others will play 12 (the regular season now). And might I add, this 15 game total is what champions on the other levels of college football play to win a championship, are their classes supposed to be easier or something?
In no way am I saying that this is a perfect scenario, but it is yet another way to improve on the system we have now. But I’m sure the NCAA isn’t listening.