By Bryan Jeon
As I sit through the first week of bowl games, I realize something I never put too much thought into before. Something about the teams in the first couple of weeks of the bowl season was wrong, especially as I was attempting to make my bowl picks. And it hit me – three-fourths of these schools don’t belong. What should be an honor to play in a bowl is now consolation for many schools that don’t make it to the title game, as coaches and BCS decision-makers look to even expand on the current 32-bowl, 64-team system.
At first, whenever someone mentioned that college football should implement a playoff system, I always blew it off, saying that it was best to have as many schools participate in the highest stage of college football. Trying to be understanding towards smaller schools having a bowl game mean a lot to them, I have to take the side of the public now. We want a championship game without having computers crunch numbers on who are the two best teams to go at it so consequently, we want a playoff system. This year will mark the first season that the National Championship Game will host a two-loss team in LSU, and the controversy and chaos over who should play in the NCG and BCS bowls only get worse each year.
The question to ask is why shouldn’t college football have a playoff system? College basketball (March Madness) and college baseball (College World Series) crown a national champion only after a series of playoff games. So I’ve devised how simple college football playoffs can be.
This year’s bowl season runs from December 20 through January 7. My 4-week, 16-team playoff would run from Saturday, December 15 through Monday, January 7. By starting on Saturday, which is when college game days are anyways, all of the schools would be getting at least two weeks rest, which is a perfect amount of time before entering the playoffs. Games through the first three rounds would be played on three consecutive Saturdays before the NCG would be held on Monday the 7th, on ten days rest.
Why 16 teams? Because the top 8 teams are still solid in that that dividing line might get controversial as well, but the bottom of the 32 teams is really weak — these being the only number of teams to avoid any byes. The teams would be pulled and seeded directly from the BCS standings. To argue against an 8-team or 32-team playoff, take this season for example. No. 9 West Virginia and No. 10 Hawaii wouldn’t make the playoffs, and it wouldn’t make sense that an undefeated team not get a crack at the title. As for having beyond 16 teams (which would just include No. 16 Tennessee, who was in the SEC title game), I’d like to believe that you all would be convinced from the bowls that No. 17 BYU (who needed to block a last-second 28-yard field goal to avoid losing to UCLA) and No. 24 Boise State (who gave up 41 points in losing to East Carolina) probably would have no shot to hang with the likes of Clemson or Kansas (who they would face in the first round of a 32-team system, respectively).
If the idea doesn’t entice you yet, let me just list what the first-round matchups would be:
- No. 1 Ohio State v. No. 16 Tennessee
- No. 2 LSU v. No. 15 Clemson
- No. 3 Virginia Tech v. No. 14 Boston College
- No. 4 Oklahoma v. No. 13 Illinois
- No. 5 Georgia v. No. 12 Florida
- No. 6 Missouri v. No. 11 Arizona State
- No. 7 USC v. No. 10 Hawaii
- No. 8 Kansas v. No. 9 West Virginia
And you know it would only get better from there. This system would also eliminate the understandable complaints about when schools lose because we all know the later a team loses, the more repercussions they face even if they have the same number of losses as a team who just lost earlier in the season. So instead of worrying about whether they got dropped from the title game or a BCS bowl game, schools would view the importance of the rankings in only determining the seeding, thus making for sensible matchups while they still have a shot at the title game.
So let’s make a stand and stop putting up with this Florida Atlantic v. Memphis crap and start building toward an intense four weeks of college football to truly crown a clear-cut champion. Hell, it could be the forgotten two-loss Trojans or the undefeated Warriors but until then, there will never be an undisputed champion.