Keep bowls and BCS away from college football playoff

College football doesn't need bowls or the letters "BCS" for its playoffs system.

College football officials must realize they don't need bowls or the BCS for a playoff system.

In full disclosure, and at the risk of ostracizing myself from seemingly all except those who fondly recall memories of the inaugural 1902 Tournament East-West game in Pasadena — where admission was 50 cents, plus $1 for the family’s horse-and-buggy – here goes:

I like bowl games. I like tradition. I like the idea of an end-of-season reward for two college football teams, players and their families. It probably helped that I grew up in the shadow of the Rose Bowl (which the East-West became) and not the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl. But there was no urgency for a playoff, and the arguments over rankings were considered part of the fabric and charm of college football.

We’re past charm, of course. I’m not completely past the thought that bowl games serve some purpose, but I don’t want them anywhere near a college football playoff. Do you know what the dysfunctional combination of bowl games and a “playoff” has gotten us in the past 20 years? The BCS. It has created one oft-debated matchup and rendered most other games unwatchable.

College officials and conference commissioners finally agree we’re headed for a four-team playoff. But for some reason they appear unwilling to cut the cord with the bowls, which have contributed to the BCS mess and succeeded only in making money for their occasionally corrupt executives (see: Fiesta Bowl). This was reaffirmed Wednesday when ACC commissioner John Swofford, echoing the sentiments of his brethren, said his conference would like bowl games to be used as sites for playoffs and for the BCS structure to be kept for non-playoff teams.

Why … and why?

It makes no sense that the NCAA, which runs a successful basketball tournament, would allow outside contractors to stage potentially its most profitable venture. Imagine the NFL going through the regular season and then telling a start-up company, “OK, you take it from here. See if you can make the Super Bowl work.”

So here’s my plan. It won’t please everybody, but no plan will:

• The top four teams will be picked before the bowls get involved. Semifinals will be played on New Year’s Day. The championship game the following week.

• The semifinals will be held at campus stadiums of the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds. The thought of a game in Baton Rouge, Austin or Ann Arbor blows away the sterile atmosphere of a neutral-site dome. The home team obviously will have an advantage, but higher seeds should have an advantage in playoffs. I’m also not convinced that the fan bases of two college football teams can afford to travel in consecutive weeks in the postseason. This eliminates that problem. And please, no more whines about logistical issues and there not being enough hotel rooms. I’m in the media and even I don’t care about logistical issues. Every college has hosted major games of national interest.

• The championship game should be put up for bid, just like a Super Bowl. If Phoenix wants in, fine. But the host should be Phoenix, not the Fiesta Bowl subcommittee of “Dewey, Cheatem and Howe.” (Copyright: Three Stooges.)

• There will be no automatic qualifiers, not even from the mighty SEC. Sports are cyclical and with realignment Armageddon ongoing, nobody can be certain where the power structure is headed. All four teams will be at-large berths and can come from any of the FBS conferences. We can’t just assume that Middle Tennessee State can’t inexplicably field a great team in 20 years and eke in as a No. 4 seed.

• Playoff teams do not have to be conference champions. No other sport, college or pro, mandates this. This should be about the best four teams, period. That also means no cap on conference participants. That 1985 Final Four with three Big East schools — Georgetown, St. John’s and little ol’ Villanova — seemed to work out OK.

• The four teams will be picked by a panel. If the NCAA can come up with a tournament selection committee for basketball, it certainly can do the same for football. Wire service and computer rankings will not be part of any official criteria, even if it’s assumed everybody on the panel will be peeking at them.

• The bowls have free reign of participants after the four playoff teams are picked. The Rose Bowl can have its Pac 12-Big Ten matchup every year. The Sugar Bowl can take an SEC school. Let bowl officials scramble for teams again. The games are better. Everybody’s happy. The only mandate: All games must be played by New Year’s Day. Only the championship comes after.

College football gets a true champion. The bowls return to function as they should’ve all along. The BCS gets hit by a wrecking ball. What could be better?

By Jeff Schultz

265 comments Add your comment

Old Dawg

May 17th, 2012
12:48 pm

I agree with some of what you say Jeff, especially getting the bowls out of the way, but I’m still in favor of a 16-team playoff like the other divisions of the NCAA.

Cut the regular season back to 11 games and it will work well. And the fans will love it.

Old Dawg

May 17th, 2012
12:48 pm

Amazing. I’m first. Time for lunch!

lanier

May 17th, 2012
12:48 pm

makes sense so im sure they won’t do it

Half Century Dawg

May 17th, 2012
12:49 pm

Sounds good to me, Go Dawgs

William Satterwhite

May 17th, 2012
12:51 pm

It’s so simple and makes so much sense, it’s amazing to me that almost each one of these proposals is being talked down if you believe all of the recent reports.

Josh M

May 17th, 2012
12:51 pm

It makes perfect sense – which is, of course, why it has a 0% chance of happening.

Jeff Schultz

May 17th, 2012
12:53 pm

Old Dawg — Four weeks is too long, plus then you get into which conferences have a championship game and which don’t. Creates too many issues IMO. Even eight teams would take some tweaking.

Rothschild

May 17th, 2012
12:54 pm

I agree 100 percent.

Tom Resident Georgi Fan

May 17th, 2012
12:54 pm

Why not try it … try anything other than the mess we have.

Jacket Backer

May 17th, 2012
12:54 pm

A four team playoff does not sound like much of a playoff to me….I like the 16 team format as well…..Make it a true playoff season….

William Satterwhite

May 17th, 2012
12:55 pm

“but I’m still in favor of a 16-team playoff like the other divisions of the NCAA.”

The FCS playoff is in the process of expanding to 24 teams from 20. As much as people may hate BCS apologists, one point they are 100 percent spot on is any playoff system larger than 4 teams will eventually swell up over time.

Rothschild

May 17th, 2012
12:57 pm

FCS has a playoff and it’s done (or used to be) before Christmas. To move to a playoff, you’d sacrifice the conference championship games and shorten the regular season to 11 games. A FCS-style playoff could be, but won’t be done.

chris

May 17th, 2012
12:58 pm

You have my vote to chair the committee

Ostrich Racer

May 17th, 2012
1:04 pm

So let it be written — so let it be done.

Spanky

May 17th, 2012
1:04 pm

I agree with Jacket Backer..if a play-off system is how a champ is decided, don’t do it half-a$$ed! 16 teams- eight games to start…they draw for match-ups, so it is fair. Evrybody else can go to a bowl….(sound of my 2 cents in a bucket)

Desert Dave

May 17th, 2012
1:09 pm

I believe you are spot on. Simple and straight forward..in other words not a chance in Floriduh.

Sam Snead

May 17th, 2012
1:17 pm

I agree with everything Schultz said. It makes perfect sense, that’s it will never happen

RxDawg

May 17th, 2012
1:18 pm

Sounds great to me. I especially love having all the games finished by new years day.

The only thing I’m leery of is having a selection commitee. I say just use the same system we are using now with the BCS formula. Of course it can be tweeked. For instance, for the love of god drop the stupid coaches poll. It’s conflict of interest is biggest I’ve ever seen.

Michael

May 17th, 2012
1:24 pm

I like it all, except I think it needs at least 8 teams. Only allowing 3% of your member teams into a playoff is just way too low. Basketball allows almost 20% of D-I teams into the tournament. I’m not saying it needs to be that high, but I think it needs to be north of 5%. It can be done as long as school presidents stop lying to themselves about this student-athletes needing to take finals garbage.

Um ...

May 17th, 2012
1:33 pm

I cannot agree with anything that makes sense.

CD

May 17th, 2012
1:37 pm

I like it all. The current bowl a night system means I don’t watch any bowls. Give me two solid days of football on New Year’s eve and New Year’s day then play a national championship a week later. I want to put four tv’s in the room and watch all the games at once. Have friends over for a party and cheer for everyone. Call me a Luddite but I want to go back to the old ways.

Game Changer

May 17th, 2012
1:37 pm

6 Teams:

Top 2 get a bye
4 play week one

Team 1 and 2 get bye and home field in round two

Team 3 and 4 home field against team 5 and 6 / winners play @ Team 1 and 2 home field

5150 UOAD

May 17th, 2012
1:45 pm

the 4 teams MUST be Conference Champs because that is what the Football Season is all about. The way ESPN works it will turn into a Season Long SEC Lovefest selling at SEC to always have 2 teams in the mix.
If a team doesn’t win their Conference then they are not 1 of the 4 best teams. Screw the Bama v LSU joke we had this year that NOBODY watched but people in the South.

rduck

May 17th, 2012
1:46 pm

If you can’t win your conference, then you should not be allowed in… IMO. To allow at large bids in will give us pretty much what we have now, a popularity contest. If you are gonna allow teams in without winning their conference, then extend it to at least 8 teams and call them wildcards. And I totally agree on gettig rid of the coach’s poll. They don’t see the games and are always gonna vote with an agenda…

5150 UOAD

May 17th, 2012
1:51 pm

PEOPLE wanting 16 teams are forgetting this is COLLEGE. These kids are there for COLLEGE and Studying. Let the lil FCS teams play their game and let the Big Boys Play the Season and just a few get a Shot at a Championship. Expanding the season expands the risk to the players and forces more talk of PAYING the players.

KM

May 17th, 2012
1:52 pm

A 16 team playoff just like the other college divisions have had for years is the simpliest way to determine a true undisputed national champion. Drop all the bowls. Hold the playoff games in major city football stadiums accros the country. Four weeks of competing against top tier teams should not be an issue. If your favorite team(s) is not among the field of 16, the solution is to get better and try again the following year.

Frank Lane

May 17th, 2012
1:54 pm

Sounds good to me. EXCEPT What if a team chosen for the playoff loses its bowl game first?

Joey

May 17th, 2012
1:54 pm

When I consider a 4-team playoff, I think back to ‘07, when UGA had the longest winning streak at the regular season’s end of any team in the country, including double-digit wins vs UF, UA, and Tech.

In the poll after the conference championships, we ended up 5th.

I am sure there are many more instances just like ‘07, where the hottest (and best?) team would have gotten left out. But the more teams in the playoff, the less likely a team like that gets left out.

Probably need 8 teams, Jeff, and a requirement that no voter can tune in to ESPN to hear their inevitable cheerleading for Buckeye’s team.

dawgfacedboy

May 17th, 2012
1:59 pm

Conference champions get a bye, runner-ups are in. 6 BCS conferences= 12 teams. This ensures the regular season still matters. Cut out some of the 1-AA opponents. Not worth paying Ga Southern 800,000 to play a game you win by 50 in front of 60,000 people. All of the insignificant bowls are played by those who are not in the mix (just as they are today). BCS bowls are used for quarter/semi final games.

it’s not hard (that’s what she said)

Tim

May 17th, 2012
2:02 pm

4 teams and there’s how many schools? Total bs. Nfl has 32 and 12 teams make it. Baseball 12 out of 32. And the nba and nhl with 31-32 teams allows 16 to make it. Look at baseball and basketball. Golf. Every spport does it right but not eh idiocy around college football. Div1 aa can do it the freaking big schools can. Such a gd joke.

Tim

May 17th, 2012
2:04 pm

Ah okay Jeff 4 is too long for sec or acc schools but old div1aa conferences can do it. Whatever. Pro sports can do it! All college sports can do it. But noooo not pigskin! It’s tooo long. tpyical whiney liberal

John Heisman.....

May 17th, 2012
2:06 pm

Anyone who wants more than four teams in the play off obviously has never played the game of college football. These people most likely are sissy ass soccer fans who don’t know the physical part that a fourteen game schedule over a six month period takes on a player’s body. And Michael, finals are not garbage.Obviously, you never had that opportunity or you would know better.

Desert Dawg

May 17th, 2012
2:18 pm

I love the idea of a playoff. I would want 8 or 16 teams instead of 4. In the BcS era, mid-major conferences and independents other than Notre Dame have 0 chance of having a team win a National Championship. What incentive, outside of winning the conference, do the mid-majors have? Also, having home playoff games would be bigger money makers than the paycheck non-conference games against FCS opponents.

Miss Cleo

May 17th, 2012
2:24 pm

We are headed to 5, 16 team super conferences. These superconferences will leave the NCAA in all sports, so they don’t have to comply with all of the crazy regs. When this happens over the next 5 years, we will have paid players and a college football playoff. The NCAA will remain intact to govern the non BCS conferences.

John R White

May 17th, 2012
2:27 pm

Couldn’t agree more. I went to a FCS School(THE Georgia Southern Universiy) and have seen how successful a playoff can be. However, due to the conference championships a 16 or 20 team playoff would not be feasible. The only way that a 16 team playoff could be feasible is if we eliminated the conference championship games, which is not going to happen.

Who Cares?

May 17th, 2012
2:27 pm

“I’m in the media and even I don’t care about logistical issues.”

RTR22

May 17th, 2012
2:28 pm

Miss Cleo you are soooooo off the mark……not going to happen IMO

asdf

May 17th, 2012
2:29 pm

My. Heisman – I played both soccer and football in HS. Never had an injury during football. Had 2 MCL tears, and a partially deflated lung from hitting someone hard in soccer. Obviously, you never had the opportunity to play both or you would know better.

DawginLex

May 17th, 2012
2:30 pm

So last year, we would have seen this?

LSU versus Stanford in Baton Rouge
Bama versus Okie State in Tuscaloosa

I could live with that. Would be better than what we have now.

Jamie in Texas

May 17th, 2012
2:31 pm

I agree with your basic proposed structure, but with one provision: In the event of the qualifiers WANTS to play in a venue other than their own, they have that option. Examples: Ga. Tech or Houston playing in their respective NFL venues rather than their relatively small home fields. Or maybe Kansas at Arrowhead rather than at home (like THAT’s gonna happen). Actually, only schools with extremely small stadiums with significantly larger venues with which they could work out a beneficial deal on short notice would even consider this. Just don’t make the wording absolute and create a situation that causes criticism IF a team with a small venue (think it can’t happen? Boise State …) gets in the mix.

GTBob

May 17th, 2012
2:32 pm

Playoff teams do not have to be conference champions. No other sport, college or pro, mandates this.

Every other sport has a real playoff system that gives every team in the sport a chance to win the championship without worrying about the opinions of old men. If college football is going to create this fake 4 team playoff format then they should at least try to create some way for teams to earn their way in. Otherwise it will end up as corrupt and useless as the BCS.

bubba4dawgs

May 17th, 2012
2:33 pm

I certainly agree to keep the championship contenders out of the Bowl picture! Why not have the game on a Home and Home rotating basis by conference? Otherwise, the SEC will probably host the game more often than the other conferences and then they will always cry about not getting the game in their conference. The SEC is the best conference anyway and will probably win it more often than not regardless of where the game is played! GO DAWGS (only wish you could get there)!!

RxDawg

May 17th, 2012
2:34 pm

Honestly I don’t see a problem with a smaller stadium school hosting a playoff game if they are the higher seed. Most of the money comes from TV. The sales from an extra 30-40 thousand tickest wont be a big difference in the grand scheme of things. I think it would be kinda cool if a smaller school played well enough to earn a playoff game at their house.

DawginLex

May 17th, 2012
2:35 pm

Re-thinking my post and wondering if the football powers would have allowed 2 SEC schools to host the playoffs. Bama would go to Stillwater probably

RxDawg

May 17th, 2012
2:36 pm

“If college football is going to create this fake 4 team playoff format then they should at least try to create some way for teams to earn their way in.”

That’s all fine and well. The problem is there are more then 4 conferences. Not only that, if you make conference champion be a requirement it’s a sure bet that this thing will get bloated and expand past 4, then past 8, then past 16… next thing you know we’ve got a crappy season to wait out like in basketball.

John Heisman.....

May 17th, 2012
2:42 pm

@asdf….I played both college and NFL football ( Colts and Falcons ) and the hitting gets more violent as you progress up the ladder. Too bad you never made it past the high school level or you would have known better.

GooberDawg

May 17th, 2012
2:50 pm

Greed is killing college football. Rivalries that defined and built the sport’s popularity are discarded without a second thought if another conference offers more money. Boosters are asked to pay contributions that would make NFL franchises blush. Universities and alums make their peace with thug “student/athletes” in the name of winning. Not what I consider to be progress.

Bryant

May 17th, 2012
2:52 pm

5150 uoad What an idiot you are! People who only want conference champs included do not want
the best teams in. Last year was the first year the BCS championship game was on cable you nut.
BTW it was the second most watched cable event in history. Look it up moron!

GTBob

May 17th, 2012
2:53 pm

That’s all fine and well. The problem is there are more then 4 conferences.

Which is why I called it a fake playoff. You can’t really call it a playoff when most of the teams in college football are eliminated before the season even starts. Until every team in the country can win a championship on the field, there wont be a real playoff. I am just arguing for a way to make a horribly unfair system slightly more fair.

Randall "Pink" Floyd

May 17th, 2012
2:55 pm

Everything sounds good but I’d give the winners 2 weeks after New Years to get ready.