A better plan for college football
Seattle Times reader Daniel Deceuster writes about a better plan for crowning a college football national champion.
The Bowl Championship Series, or BCS, is the most controversial topic in the sports world. Nothing is more unpopular among fans or polarizing among administrators. However, the BCS was born out of frustration with an antiquated system, but one that was treasured and valued by those involved.
I'm talking about bowl games. They started with the Rose Bowl nearly 100 years ago. Since then the Sugar, Fiesta, Orange, Cotton and others have been added. We are now up to 35 bowl games. The bowl tradition was unlike any other in sports. If you played in the Big Ten, your goal was to get to the Rose Bowl, plain and simple.
In the early 1990s it became obvious that the bowl format was a terrible way of deciding a national champion. Many years there were two top teams in the league that did not play each other in their bowl game simply because their conferences had ties with different bowls. The Bowl Alliance, Bowl Coalition and finally Bowl Championship Series set out to fix all of that.
The entire purpose of the BCS was to ensure the top two teams played in a championship bowl each year. It has done this quite well, except that determining the top two teams each year has proven to be rather tricky. Some years it has been a no brainer. Most years it is filled with controversy.
Today the BCS has become a corrupting influence in college football. We now see San Diego State joining the Big East. We see longstanding rivalries tossed aside for the opportunity to make more money. It is time for something to change.
But the biggest thing holding back change is agreement. Everyone wants a playoff, but no one agrees on how the playoff should look. The BCS simply points out holes in each proposal and the lack of a viable alternative as the reason they need to stick around. That's about to change.
I propose an eight-team playoff. Sixteen teams in a college football playoff simply won't work. That is just too many games. And bowl games cannot be used as playoff sites. Teams lose money in bowl games and fans won't travel. Make playoff games home games until the championship, which can be at a neutral site.
Any conference champion that finishes in the top 14 of the final BCS standings is automatically in the playoff. Any independent who finishes in the top eight is automatically in the playoff. If more than eight teams qualify, the eight highest ranked are in. If less than eight qualify, then start taking the highest ranked teams remaining until you have eight.
Now seed the teams one through eight, according to BCS rankings. The weekend after Army-Navy, No. 8 plays at 1, 7 plays at 2, 6 plays at 3 and 5 plays at 4. Then the bowl games begin. The semifinal matchups are the day before the Rose Bowl, or, if the Rose Bowl is on a Monday, the Saturday before the Rose Bowl. The lower seeds play at the higher seeds.
The championship game stays on the same day it is now, the second Monday of January. It is at a neutral site.
The reason this proposal works is that it does not add too many games, it fits in the same timeline the bowls are already played and it allows for fair and equal access to all. No undefeated team has ever finished outside the top 14. If you win all your games and are your conference champion, you are in, no matter what conference you play in.
Money stays with the teams because they play home games. You don't have to worry about fans traveling as the playoff games are home games. It is a win-win for all those involved. The current bowls stay the same, except that instead of two teams being off limits there are eight. Perhaps a few bowls would disappear, but I can live with that.
If all playoff proponents can rally behind a single proposal, change can happen. But we have to rally around a viable alternative. An eight-team playoff might not be the most ideal according to some fans, but it is the most viable and could actually be implemented. You can read more at www.CollegeFootballCafeteria.com
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