Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Addressing the Obvious College Football BS

As the bowl season is now under way, I figured it was time for someone at Free Keon to address the elephant in the room and talk about our messed up College Football Bowl System. Too often, however, this conversation just addresses how ridiculous the bowl system is without really looking towards plausible solutions that effectively compromise innovation, tradition, and financial concerns.

With those concerns in mind, I tried to come up with a College football playoff system that borrows the best from numerous sports across the globe:

College Basketball: The quintessential “perfect tournament” acts as the foundation for this entire expose. Nothing in sports (outside of the world cup) comes close to the pure joy that this annual event elicits. Can you imagine if the College basketball season ended and instead of having a wonderful tournament to enjoy we had to endure a month of mostly meaningless matchup with awkward sponsor names. The specific components that would be borrowed from this tournament would be a certain number of automatic conference bids (see further down) and a set number of “open” spots selected by a committee. That way you still get that Selection Sunday feel.

Lower Divisions of College Football: Further indication that the bowl system is more than a little wacky is that every other football conglomeration in the world has some sort of playoff sytem. The two major components that I feel we can take from these tournaments is: 1.) 16 teams for the playoffs (this means a 4 week tournament – could spread it out over 6 weeks to accommodate holiday viewing); 2.) Home matches in the first round for higher seeded teams – traditional bowl games (at “neutral” locations) would take over from the quarterfinals on.

Traditional College Football Bowls: Though the bowl idea is flawed in many ways, it does succeed in involving many teams and sponsors, which means lots of money. With that in mind I would propose keeping all of the current bowls; having higher profile bowls sponsor the quarterfinals, semifinals, and championship games; and having all of the other bowls act as interesting side stories (see below).

UEFA Champions League and Europa League: This is where the “innovation” comes into play. Understanding that one of the biggest barriers to constructing a playoff system revolves around the diminishing relevance and prestige (and thus tickets and views) that would result from making “fringe” bowls the virtual NIT to the NCAA tourney, a solution must be developed. Accordingly, I would suggest that all post-season games (both playoff and bowls) count towards conference points, which determine how many automatic bids each conference gets for the following year. European soccer has done this for years with their multi-league tournaments, where each national league gets so many points (2 for a win, 1 for a draw), and then based on those points a coefficient is determined (number of points divided by number of teams) and used to show how many teams get into the post-season. This would almost certainly increase the watchability of these games as each match-up would have a direct effect on next year’s play off system.

How this would all work out: So let’s say that there are 12 automatic bids and 4 selection bids. For year 1 the breakdown of automatic bids would be year 3 SEC, 2 Big Ten, 2 Big 12, 1 Big East, 1 ACC, 1 Pac-10, 1 WAC, 1 MWC, and the 4 selection bids. These 16 teams would be seeded and then all of the other bowls would select their matchups. Once the season was over the conference coefficients would be developed and the automatic bids would be adjusted accordingly.

The Result: I truly believe that this would be the best result for all involved as we would have a playoff system, we would have a selection Sunday with brackets to follow, we would still have bowl games and prestige, we would have a certain #1 team, and we would have a reason to watch all of those small bowls to see if the MAC could finally get just 1 automatic bid!

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading this late, but it is a well-constructed idea. The current bowl system goes against every kind of competitive notion. The worst thing is when the BCS is congratualated for "getting it right". Every playoff system doesn't worry about getting it right, the teams decide who is the best.


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