Finally, here’s the perfect college football playoff plan

The first objective: Get to the college football postseason without the acronym, BCS. (AP photo)

The first objective: Get to the college football postseason without the acronym, BCS. (AP photo)

While there is no actual data to back this statement, I’m almost certain my three greatest sources of email relate to unclaimed winnings in the Irish lottery (“This is your final notice!”), male enhancement pills (“See the desire in her eyes!”) and the perfect college football playoff format (“I have no life, no friends, I live on Pop-Tarts and ramen noodles and have been working on this for 17 months!”).

So it comes as great relief that college football finally appears to be moving close to some form of a playoff, with even NCAA president Mark Emmert saying Thursday that he might support a four-team format. We will get a champion. I will get less email.

But I’m kind of old school in many ways. I believe college football is better with debate. It partially fuels the passions and traditions of the sport. What we don’t need is an eight- or 16-team playoff format, which is unworkable and would drive the bones of these kids into dust. We already have hypocritical university presidents who pound their fist on tables and claim they’re all about academics, then when the TV lights click off approve 12-game regular seasons and conference championship games to generate revenue (and not to build libraries).

“The season is very long, and I don’t know if you can do a whole lot more than what we’re doing now,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said Friday. “I guess you can do the plus-one that they’re talking about. Keep it sane. But beyond that, you’d have to cut back on regular-season games.”

That’s not happening.

Mark Richt says an expanded playoff system in college football isn't workable. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Mark Richt says an expanded playoff system in college football isn't workable. (Jason Getz/AJC)

With that, I now unveil the perfect plan, not to be confused with all of the other plans.

Understand something: Bowl games largely have lost their appeal. Too many matchups are not appealing to even the fan bases involved in the game. One reason for that is the BCS’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup has rendered all other bowls meaningless. The under-40 crowd may not realize this, but New Year’s Day games used to be a treasure, not just because the Sugar, Rose, Orange, Cotton were great, but because the games actually meant something. Human polls determined the champion, so several teams in the major bowls could convince themselves, with a series of results, that they had a chance to finish No. 1.

This plan also restores the bowls’ tradition, gives them meaning, provides a title game and leaves worthy debate intact. So here goes:

1.) Drop the BCS into a dumpster. What other sports enterprise takes its biggest money-making venture and allows an outside company to run it?

2.) The NCAA creates a blue-ribbon panel of a dozen members, similar to basketball, who select at-large berths for the five major bowls (see below). All remaining teams are available for other bowls.

3.) We bring the Cotton Bowl, which has revenue-generating Cowboys Stadium, back into the equation, joining the Sugar, Rose, Orange and Fiesta. If somebody considers five too many, dump the Fiesta. They bring little to the table anyway, other than corruption.

4.) The major bowls will have traditional conference tie-ins. SEC champion to the Sugar, ACC to the Orange, Big 12 to the Cotton, Pac-12 and Big Ten to the Rose. (The Fiesta can get two worthy at-large bids, since no other conference champion is worthy of an automatic bid.) Potentially, each of the five bowls will mean something because there’s no automatic 1 vs. 2 match-up. It effectively gives you “five semifinal” games (kinda, sorta). The often-heard proposal of having two of the current BCS bowls designated as semifinals would render the other three bowls meaningless.

5.) After the New Year’s bowls, the panel selects the two best teams for the championship game. Of course, arguments will ensue. So what? Each team will have had a chance to prove itself in the bowls. Picking four teams for semifinals would diminish the bowls and extend the season too long.

One last thing: If the two best teams come from the same conference, I’m OK with that. Most consider the NCAA basketball tournament the greatest thing going, and nobody complains when there are multiple teams from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten or Big 12 in the Final Four. So why should football be any different.

So there’s the perfect plan, which by the way would’ve concluded the same way as the BCS’s imperfect one: Alabama over LSU in the final.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

192 comments Add your comment

All I'm Saying Is....

January 13th, 2012
5:45 pm

I’m in favor of the “Plus One” or “And One” or whatever you want to call what you’ve pitched, Schultz and I don’t care how the two teams are selected as what you propose keeps the bowl system in place which should eliminate virtually any objection.

What I would personally like to see is eliminating the spread of these bowl games into the 8th or 9th day of the new year and back them all up to closer to New Year’s Day leaving the Plus One to one or two weeks later so the kids can heal.

AGTFan53

January 13th, 2012
5:53 pm

Actually a pretty good plan Jeff.

GTBob

January 13th, 2012
5:55 pm

What we don’t need is an eight- or 16-team playoff format, which is unworkable and would drive the bones of these kids into dust.

This is the lamest argument out there. How many FCS and Division III players have died during their playoffs? They seem to be ok.

Brent

January 13th, 2012
5:56 pm

I’d try anything that doesn’t involve the BCS

Whopper Dawg

January 13th, 2012
5:57 pm

Jeff,

Exactly how long did it take you to arrive at another system that is not better than the BCS? And opinion still decides what teams play for the championship

Wil Walton

January 13th, 2012
6:03 pm

GTBob, while I too would like to see a multiple tier playoff, there is some validity to the argument that it could wear more on a young athlete’s body. FCS is NOT FBS in terms of the size, speed and strength of the athletes involved.

Antidepressed Dawg

January 13th, 2012
6:04 pm

This is so stupid…the money an 8 or 16 team playoff would generate would blow away what the cupcake games generate. And the TV money from the playoff would be out of control. Go back to 10 games and non playoff teams go to their bowl. It’s the most hypocritical thing in the world to say college football is about academics and then turn right around and negotiate money like a professional sports league. All this comes down to the big boys wanting to make sure they keep the big boy’s share of the money. It’s unamerican to not give everybody a chance to prove it on the field. The current system does nothing more than eliminate most every team before the season even starts, and giving espn control of the whole machine is going to make sure the usual suspects are in the running each and every year. If this were a business anti-trust law enforcement would have a field day!!!

GTBob

January 13th, 2012
6:06 pm

FCS is NOT FBS in terms of the size, speed and strength of the athletes involved.

There are plenty of big fast players in FCS. FBS football players aren’t super human beasts killing each other. They are young kids with pads on. If they cant handle a couple of extra games then none of them ever need to go pro.

chipper

January 13th, 2012
6:07 pm

OK, Jeff: Make us laugh. We count on you to get us through the next seven months. I can only watch so many replays of 2011 games this coming summer. The NBA and MLB, frankly, bore me to tears. You? You are funny, man. Bring it home.

bali

January 13th, 2012
6:10 pm

so let me get this right…you are saying the male enhancement pills do not really work…dang

anotherdawg

January 13th, 2012
6:10 pm

I like it Jeff. There is no system that will ever eliminate controversy, but what you are proposing sounds alot better than what we have now. Almost every year deserving teams are left out of a chance to prove it on the field. One thing I do wish is that the bowls do a better match-up with the top teams. Boise State, for instance, certainly deserved a better bowl than they got, and they proved it on the field. But, what you are proposing would give teams one last chance to prove that they belong in the championship game, without destroying the bowls, or the importance of the regular season.

rationalthinker

January 13th, 2012
6:11 pm

Say Ga goes to the Sugar and wins then is selected to play in the championship game in Miami/LA/Dallas/etc… Is it feasible for most fans to be able to make both those bowl trips?

Wil Walton

January 13th, 2012
6:18 pm

GTBob, Yes, there are plenty of athletes in FCS that could play in FBS. As a whole, the players in FBS collectively are much faster and stronger. As far as the pro debate, how many FBS athletes make it in the pros over 3 years? Not a large percentage in comparison to the total number of FBS players. Another good point is the training/medical attention that is involved at the pro level, that is not available in college, which IMO negates your point about not turning pro.

Wil Walton

January 13th, 2012
6:18 pm

Hahaha @ Bali

CT_Jacket

January 13th, 2012
6:21 pm

What’s wrong with the winners of the four BCS games being a quarterfinal round. Of course, the selection needs to be taken from the bowl organizers who select on ticket sale potential. Six BCS champions and two at-large teams. The non-AQ conferences would have access to the at-large spots.

Big Enos Burdette

January 13th, 2012
6:22 pm

Humans picking the final two still allows teams to get in on pedigree. More teams in the tourney lessens the validity of someone of lesser pedigree of being left out

more perfect

January 13th, 2012
6:24 pm

8 team playoff… requires 3 rounds; 7 games(use top 7 current bowls)… round 1 (4 games the weekend before Christmas… round 2 (2 games New Years day… one being the Rose Bowl so they don’t cry about their parade)… Championship game 1 week later like current BS game. Easy, all done when schools are on break (except possibly for last game), keeps all other bowls and conference championship games.

Big Enos Burdette

January 13th, 2012
6:26 pm

If it’s an 8 team tourney then there’s little chance of a Boise or a TCU being left out. But just having two really leaves the door open for the big boy conferences to exercise their influence and we’re right back to square one.

Boobie Bowden

January 13th, 2012
6:26 pm

“Say Ga goes to the Sugar and wins”

and you call yourself Rational Thinker????????

Big Enos Burdette

January 13th, 2012
6:26 pm

Amen “more perfect”

Rationale

January 13th, 2012
6:28 pm

Nowhere near resolving the issue. Top 8 teams, play in 4 early bowl games, 2 weeks after end of season.. Those 4 winners are the 4 that go to the final 4. Then, all that needs to be decided is the true final rankings of those 4. #1 plays #4. #2 plays #3, on New Years Day. Winners play for the title, 2 weeks later.

Wil Walton

January 13th, 2012
6:29 pm

Hey… here’s one for ya… everything goes to 4 regional mega-conferences. The champs play for it all. Makes the regular season a defacto playoff… Yeah, not gonna happen…

chilidawg

January 13th, 2012
6:30 pm

Scrap the “blue ribbon panel” and just use the polls.

TommyP

January 13th, 2012
6:31 pm

So you’re suggesting we go back to the pre-BCS system but just after the bowl games? What the hell??????

Eliminate the damn beauty pageant. I’m so sick of the stupidity involved with the best sport out there. It’s the greatest sport with the worst postseason.

8-team playoff is the way to go. Conference champs and at larges that are voted in by your super committee. Let’s play.

1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, etc. Hold it at the higher seed’s campus. When you get to 4 teams, let’s go bowling.

Start earlier in December so we don’t have 40 day layoffs. (are you kidding me????)

If it can’t be worked out and colleges refuse to go back to an 11-game schedule, then you know that money is still the driving force and things will never change.

I honestly feel until we have a lot of old, white college presidents die, we’ll never see change. Sad but true.

lanier

January 13th, 2012
6:36 pm

you nailed it Jeff

Big Enos Burdette

January 13th, 2012
6:38 pm

The people have spoken. An 8 team tourney gets a team in on merit, not pedigree or beauty. That’s the American way

Big Enos Burdette

January 13th, 2012
6:44 pm

rationalthinker,

i get what you’re saying but I bet that most rabid fans would choose their team making the tourney and not being able to see it in person than what they have now (getting to see their team in person in Shreveport or even New Orleans in a meaningless exhibition).

Most pro fans can’t travel to all their teams away playoff games and that seems to be working fine

LawDawg86

January 13th, 2012
6:44 pm

Applying that to this year, you would have:

Sugar – LSU
Rose – Oregon v. Wisky
Orange – Clemson
Cotton – OSU
Fiesta –

Now, you have to place the opponents in the rest of the bowls. Looking at this years final BCS standings (or AP), you have Bama, Arky, Stanford, BSU, Kansas State.

So the Fiesta gets Bama as its home team as it doesn’t have a conference tie in.

Then you place the rest with closest teams that makes sense, but try not to have teams from the same conference play each other.

You get:

Sugar – LSU(1) v. Kansas State(8)
Rose – Oregon(5) v. Wisky(10)
Orange – Clemson(15) v. Stanford(4)
Cotton – OkSU(3) v. Arkansas(6)
Fiesta – Bama(2) v. Boise State(7)

If we wanted to do it a bit more geographically, we could have Bama to the Orange, Stanford to the Fiesta.

South Carolina is the odd man out, being ranked 9th, but losing out because the ACC chamion was ranked 15th.

Problem is, I see LSU, Oregon, Standford, and Bama winning, and I’ll let OkSU beat Arky. Now what? … nothing solved. You would still have Bama or OkSU on the outs and everyone still comlaining.

It sure makes the top 5 bowls more fun, but I am not sure it make the debate go away … now it’s up to some power brokers instead of other power brokers.

Good thought … need to digest it a bit better.

GTBob

January 13th, 2012
6:46 pm

As a whole, the players in FBS collectively are much faster and stronger.

They are but with an 8 game playoff they would have to play one extra game then what Jeff is proposing. You are telling me that one extra game would really be a big deal? Especially with extra healing time during the break from the regular season? Personally I think anything less then an 8 game playoff is another slap in the face to college football fans.

WalterEgo

January 13th, 2012
6:50 pm

Ridiculous. UGA played FOURTEEN games this year, only 11 of them were regular season games. All you have to do is limit the season to 11 games (no kick off classics or conference championships) and have a 8 or 16 team playoff.

Schultzee, you created the kind of “fix” only a crooked politician could love.

Wil Walton

January 13th, 2012
6:51 pm

I see your point GTBob and will concede an 8 game playoff. I was thinking bigger playoff so that if a 15th ranked conference champ gets in, why leave out the better teams from other conferences?

dawgfan

January 13th, 2012
6:54 pm

“So there’s the perfect plan, which by the way would’ve concluded the same way as the BCS’s imperfect one: Alabama over LSU in the final.”

That’s speculative. Upsets happen all the time in college football. There have been much bigger upsets than Oklahoma State over Bama or Stanford over LSU would/could have been. College football prides itself on the unprecticable. Fans and media alike scoff at polls and expert predictions throughout the entire season. Then when it comes time to pick a champion everybody does a complete 180. Everybody acts like it is written in the stars that Team A and Team B are the best teams and you should be involuntarily commited if you disagree. It was always something like “Alabama and LSU are CLEARLY the best teams” or “its OBVIOUS the two best teams are playing for the title.” The only thing that’s clear and obvious about a college football game is when it kicks off. Anything after that is up to the Gods and we cannot speak for them.

That said, Stanford and Okie State would have had their lilly little arses kicked by Bama or LSU. That’s just my OPINION though. You know what they say about opinions? Everybody has one.

We need a full playoff.

"Chef" Tim Dix

January 13th, 2012
7:16 pm

Chunk the Fiesta, bring in the Chic-Fillet.

LOL!

January 13th, 2012
7:19 pm

“blue ribbon pannel”

keep dreaming.

same problem as we have now.

sorry Shultzy, this is not your finest work and nowhere near perfect.

8 team playoff at a minimum. No blue ribbon pannel. Top 8 teams ranked in the BCS. No auto bids. OR…..BCS conference auto bid with two at-large.

I hate the blue ribbon pannel idea for only two teams. It’s okay in bball becasue they’re picking so many teams they have to get the best team in there somewhere out of how many choices? 64? Not the same at all Shultzy.

Richt`s Hammer

January 13th, 2012
7:20 pm

Doesn`t matter here in Athens. All that is importent is my contract extension. I think I will sell Choakdawg for two krispy kreme franchises to complement my beauty parlors.

Wil Walton

January 13th, 2012
7:21 pm

Second that motion “Chef” Tim Dix…

Adam

January 13th, 2012
7:22 pm

Dumbest idea ive seen yet. I hope you’re kidding.

good grief

January 13th, 2012
7:22 pm

come on hammer that wasnt even funny. try again, I know you can do better. try to work in spray tans or ford trucks. stick to the classics. they’re classics for a reason.

Adam

January 13th, 2012
7:24 pm

Yeah those kids when they go to the nfl sure have their bones driven into the ground with those 8 extra games without any playoffs. You are a freaking moron

icallbs

January 13th, 2012
7:30 pm

Jeff, How do I get on the Irish lottery email list? All I get are emails from the Nigerian embassy telling me I’m rich. I’m hurt. Is it because I’m a protestant? I’m easy; I’ll convert if that’s in issue. I’m like the bowls – it’s all about the green, baby!

Finkerstein

January 13th, 2012
7:31 pm

Looks okay to me Jeff. I’d like to see the championship game played on Jan. 1.

Male Enhancement Inc.

January 13th, 2012
7:33 pm

Hey Jeff: I got some penile implants I’d like to sell you.

jtb

January 13th, 2012
7:35 pm

I really love that idea. Seems to be the best of both worlds. Well done Jeffrey.

zbulldawg

January 13th, 2012
7:37 pm

Kick the BCS to the curb !! Wasted money,wasted votes & a waste of PRINT !!! Get back to tradition “Rose,Sugar,Cotton & Orange” And then the championship game to be up for bid !! So simple !! Your Top rated teams gets a lock to these bowls ! You still have four teams to be invited to play in the major Bowls That puts 8 at a chance to play for the title ! The top two rated teams after this plays for the title ! Adds only one more game !! Your still going to have cry babies But all I have to say to them YOU HAVE HAD 13 games to get there so shut up & put up !

Festus

January 13th, 2012
7:47 pm

I miss the Tangerine Bowl. The season would be shorter if UGA stopped playing Coastal Carolina, Mugawhump State, Middle Eastern Tennessee School for Left Handed Midget Chiropractors, and Agnes Scott. Now that LSU has beaten Alabama and Alabama has beaten LSU, when is the Rubber Game? You don’t decide the World Series on one game. Why should football be different.

230gr Full Metal Jacket

January 13th, 2012
7:50 pm

I have to agree with GTBob on this one. An 8-team playoff seems the most viable answer. The whole excuse about how rough it would be on the kids bodies is a total joke and shows a complete lack of knowledge regarding the Div-II and Div-III (or whatever the current title for them is) programs and players. Look at the NFL. How many of those players came from the big-name Div-I schools? A huge portion of them came from the lower divisions, where they routinely played in 16-team playoffs!!! If the mindless wimps at the NCAA have an issue with it, then shorten the regular season by one game. Div-1/FBS is the ONLY form of American football that doesn’t have a multi-tier playoff system. Little-league does. High schools do. Div-II and Div-III colleges do. The NFL does. But we are supposed to believe that it is “too hard” to work in Div-I??? I’ve gotta call BS on that one! The bowl promoters and their AD buddies are the only ones against it, and it has NOTHING to do with concern for the players — it’s ALL about the money, period. There will NEVER be a legitimate NC without a playoff. The BCS is a total sham, and the sheeple are finally realizing it. It took too long, but at least now there is some hope of restoring legitimacy to the game.

Hairy Dawg

January 13th, 2012
7:50 pm

Uh, I’d take a four-team playoff. I’d rather see an eight-team playoff, but four is fine for a first step.

jasj

January 13th, 2012
8:01 pm

You would HAVE to reduce the number of regular season games…definitely back to 10 to even think about ANY additional games (even a plus one). Unless you want to get rid of the conference championship games, of course, which I think we should, unless ALL conferences have a championship game. It’s not fair for one conference to skip a championship game and play for the national championship, while its opponent had to go through the championship game gauntlet. All or none.

Randall "Pink" Floyd

January 13th, 2012
8:02 pm

That’s essentially no different than what we have now. A bunch of controversy after teams have had all year to prove themselves. Lame plan.

HighTech

January 13th, 2012
8:03 pm