Tony and I came up with this proposal one night as we were talking about football. Over the last couple of years, we've tweaked it, and also started thinking about other possibilities. But we feel this is something that could actually be implemented within the current system.
This is a proposal for an 8 team playoff, which was selected because it was deep enough to avoid too much controversy. At the time, we felt that any more would be too unwieldy.
Keep in mind that this proposal was first developed in 2010 and was originally posted on this site at the end of the 2011 season.
The first six teams included will be the six major conference champions (currently listed as the ACC, SEC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-12). Of course, seeing as how conference realignment has been going on, the Big East could end up replaced with another conference, or possibly a wildcard.
Team #7 will be the highest ranked conference champion of the non-AQ.
Team #8 will be a wildcard spot. Basically, it will be the highest ranked team not already included.
Independents will not be afforded any special privileges. Either they join a conference, or make sure they are the highest ranked team not already in the playoffs. Also, the non-AQ team must be in the top 25. Otherwise, that spot will just become another wildcard. We'll say it is the next highest ranked team not already in, but following current BCS rules, no more than 2 teams from one conference can be included.
The argument against certain current AQ conferences retaining their AQ status has gotten louder this year. We all know I'm talking about the Big East, who has been an embarrassment to the BCS in recent years. With the potential merger/alliance of CUSA and Mountain West, we could see a conference that could take over the Big East's AQ spot. If not, there could be a stipulation in there that the champion of an AQ conference needs to be above a certain number of wins, and ranked in the top 20. Otherwise, that spot goes to the next highest ranked conference champion, of if one cannot be found within those criteria, then it becomes another wildcard.
The wildcard spot is probably not something that would be liked by those who claim that the entire season is a playoff. But this would take out some of the "any given Saturday" aspects of the game. For example, if we used these playoffs this year, Alabama would be the wildcard. They would still have to go through the gauntlet of the playoffs. Maybe they would meet LSU in the title game. Well, then they would have earned it through their play of the regular season and the postseason.
As for the actual playoffs, there will be 7 total games. That means the BCS only needs to get two more bowl games to join them. (I would lobby for the Cotton Bowl and Chick-fil-a Bowl to be added, under the condition that the CFA Bowl revert to its Peach Bowl name.) Four of them will be the first round, two in the second round, and then the national championship can rotate around as it does now.
The BCS rankings will still matter. For one, they will determine the non-AQ and wildcard team to get in. They could also determine seeding, if teams were matched up 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, etc.
There's several ways of seeding teams, though. I don't need to come up with the exact way, since this is still hypothetical. Does the wildcard get seeded at #8, or do they stay where they are ranked?
Perhaps the current BCS bowl games keep their tie-ins, and two of those games send their winners to a specific game. That way, we can keep the Rose Bowl happy and they can keep the Pac-12/Big Ten matchup they so desire. Also, it would keep most of the teams geographically closer to home.
I'm not completely sure how scheduling would work exactly. I would imagine that round 1 would begin on Thursday night, continue on Friday night, and then have two games on Saturday. The second round could be completed on a Saturday (or perhaps New Year's Day). Maybe have the first round in the second or third weekend of December to start off bowl season. The second round can be played around New Year's Day. The national championship can still be played a week later, as usual.
I do not advocate losers of the early rounds being allowed into other bowl games. After all, getting into the playoffs is their reward for a good season. The reward for winning in the early rounds is the ability to continue playing.
There's still going to be arguments over this, but it makes more sense than what we have now, and stays within certain parameters already in place.
Some key advantages I see:
-Conference champions still have something to play for in their bowl game. A team can be elated to win their conference after a great season, but then they get to the bowl game, and there's nothing to play for other than pride. So if they lose the game, the great feeling of a great season sort of goes away. While that team could end up losing in the playoffs, at least they're playing for something.
-The non-AQ team that gets in with equal footing. I've argued this year that all of Boise State's big wins have come at the beginning or end of the season when they have extra prep time, and they only have one big game a season (if they have two, they're well spread out). Well, if they get into the playoffs, then they would have to beat three teams back to back to claim the title.
-Everything would be decided on the field.