Monday, December 6, 2010

What this year's playoff would look like

Update: Turns out that beyond being unfair, the BCS is also inaccurate. Jerry Palm discovered an error in the final standings when he checked out the one computer poll that has a public formula. An FCS playoff game wasn't factored in, and after it was counted, the BCS folks realized Boise is actually No. 10 in the final standings and LSU is No. 11, a reversal of where they were before the error was discovered. Makes you wonder about the other polls or past BCS results. And why an FCS game is determining whether Boise or LSU are better. And why the formulas aren't all public. Anyway, here is the updated playoff format.

Sometimes, in this imperfect world, you're left to turn to the wonders of the imagination. Dreams, realistic or otherwise, make the world go round. Whether it's Mizzou advancing to the Final Four, dating Candice Swanepoel or college football having a playoff, it's wonderful to imagine how things would be.

For this blog, let's take a look at this last one: a Division I-A (FBS) college football playoff. Obviously most fans want it. Almost all objections to it are ridiculous or hypocritical based on how things already are, so I will spare you a point-by-point argument of why a playoff would be great for college football and its fans. This is a post for the dreamers, for the wonders of the imagination, so here is how a 16-team playoff bracket would look, based on the 11 conference champs getting automatic bids and five at-large selections. I used the final BCS standings to pick the at-larges. The team with the better seed hosts the games, then maybe a neutral-site title game.

1. Auburn (SEC)
16. Florida International (Sun Belt)

8. Arkansas (at-large)
9. Michigan State (at large)

4. Stanford (at-large)
13. Central Florida (C-USA)

5. Wisconsin (Big Ten)
12. Virginia Tech (ACC)

3. TCU (MWC)
14. Connecticut (Big East)

6. Ohio State (at-large)
11. LSU (at-large)

7. Oklahoma (Big 12)
10. Boise State (WAC)

2. Oregon (Pac-10)
15. Miami-Ohio (MAC)

Notes: Missouri is the first team out in this playoff format, which is exactly what Brent Foster would expect... How about Boise State playing at Oklahoma? (And the potential Boise-Oregon quarterfinal?)... Great matchup in the Horseshoe (OSU-LSU)... Hot Virginia Tech team could try to spring classic 5-12 upset... Can UConn pull an upset for the ages? It would actually mean something, as opposed to if they upset Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

Nuts and Bolts: Maybe cut a noncon game, go with an 11-game schedule, so no team ever plays more than 15 games, even if they go to the title game. Teams have played 15 games in a season before (K-State in 2003, for one) so forget the too many games/injuries argument.
First round: Four waves of games, two games per wave. Central time kickoffs: 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m. (Possible date: end the season a week earlier and have it first Sat. in December, Dec. 4 this year)
Second round: Quadruple-header, one game at a time, same kick times as first round. Dec. 11.
Third round: 2:30 and 7 p.m. kickoffs. Dec. 18.
(The real) National Championship Game: 7 p.m. kickoff. Saturday, Jan. 1. New Year's Day is back, baby!

Still want bowls/a fulsome glut of games? Here's some addition bowl matchups, if you want to saturate the holidays. They're based on BCS rankings and not allowing teams from the same conference to play:

Missouri vs. Nevada
Ok. State vs. Alabama
Texas A&M vs. Utah
Nebraska vs. South Carolina
Mississippi State vs. West Virginia
Florida State vs. Hawaii

(Feel free to just do away with the bowl system altogether.)

So there you have it. I'd watch. But then I'll probably watch the bowls. It just won't be as fun as a playoff could be.

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