Nothing in sports generates quite the polarizing buzz like the argument of keeping the current college football bowl system vs. adding a playoff system.
Most playoff scenarios center on incorporating the bowl system with the top eight teams in the country. Either one is ridiculous. Here’s why:
A playoff field must include home campuses. Bowls are struggling to sell tickets in a tough economy. Are you going to tell me that in an eight-team playoff that fans from let’s say, Iowa, could afford a quarterfinal bowl game in Dallas, a semifinal in Phoenix and a championship game in Pasadena? That’s not realistic. NCAA Tournament basketball games involving teams that sell out their arenas often play before half-empty crowds halfway across the country. The first time Oregon and Ohio State play a football quarterfinal in the Rose Bowl before 50,000 or fewer fans would be the last time.
Four/eight teams is not enough to stave off a lawsuit. What happens if a four-team playoff leaves off an unbeaten Boise State? What happens if an eight-team playoff excludes the Big Ten or ACC champion? You know that game would be coming to a courtroom near you.
If the NCAA sanctions a tournament-style postseason, it would need to be a comprehensive, 24-team playoff with elements of the NCAA basketball tournament. It would need to have four regions consisting of six teams with the top two receiving byes. It would need to include every conference champion (11) and all BCS conferences’ second-best teams based on BCS rankings (six). The final seven spots would be selected strictly on BCS rankings regardless of conference or independent status with no more than four schools qualifying from one conference.
The eight byes would be determined from straight BCS rankings. The final 16 tournament spots would be arranged by a committee with decisions based on strength and geography, as long as one region does not contain two teams from the same conference. The tournament would be bracketed, and the highest seed would host all games until national semifinals, which then would be held at a neutral site.
Here’s how a 24-team bracket would look, based on that criteria:
The four teams on the bubble out based on this criteria include Nebraska, USC, Utah and Wisconsin.
Sounds crazy? Yes, a little bit. Personally, I’m a bowl guy. But if the bowls eventually are discarded, this is the best route to go.