Tuck: College Football Playoffs

35 Bowl Games.  Forget about it.  Try zero.  The postseason is for winners.  This isn’t little league where everyone gets a participation ribbon and they don’t keep score.  I want a playoff.  I want the FBS (Division I-A) to join the rest of the world in the present day.

I don’t need 14 teams that were 6-6 during the regular season.  I don’t want to witness 17 teams that were 7-5 during the regular season.  I have no desire seeing 18 teams that were .500 or worse in their conference play.

I mean, are you serious?  31 of the 70 bowl teams were 7-5 or worse?  Even if I never get my dream, I’d settle for a bowl season that was half the size.  One where I’d see good football teams play each other after having good seasons.

Ah, but back to the dream.  A 16-team playoff.  Now, one day, we probably won’t have 11 conferences.  9 or 10 would expand the at-large field and make the opening round match-ups more compelling.  As is, there is still some NCAA Tournament-feel to it.  Could one of the smaller conference teams be a Cinderella?

Onto the selection process, which we would no longer need the services of the BCS or polls.  Good night guys, thanks for playing.  They can still vote, like they do in other NCAA sports, but it would have no impact on the postseason.  The seeding and at-large field would be determined by a committee, similar to the Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Schedules would be studied, and teams that did not play a strong enough one would be punished.  I’d rather see a 9-3 team that played and beat good teams than an 11-1 team that did nothing of the sort.  We see all the time where a 16-17 win team gets in the dance over a 25 win team.  With this incentive to schedule-up, the regular season would improve and feature less pathetic out-of-conference slates where a team just attempts to collect 4 wins.

Computer rankings could be used too, like the RPI in basketball.  We’d all have opinions, and ultimately those on the panel would collectively select the tournament field.  And I don’t mean casting votes from all parts of the country.  I mean gathering in a room the final weekend and talking it out, and presenting cases for teams and coming to a group decision.

I think this year’s field would look something like this:

#16 Northern Illinois (MAC) at #1 LSU (SEC)

#15 Arkansas State (Sun Belt) at #2 Oklahoma State (Big XII)

#14 Louisiana Tech (WAC) at #3 Alabama (at-large)

#13 Southern Miss (C-USA) at #4 Oregon (Pac-12)

#12 West Virginia (Big East) at #5 Wisconsin (Big 10)

#11 Clemson (ACC) at #6 Stanford (at large)

#10 TCU (MWC) at #7 Kansas State (at-large)

#9 Arkansas (at-large) at #8 Oklahoma (at-large)

Yes, a 9-3 Sooners club would get in based on their schedule over less-deserving teams like Boise State and Houston, despite having a lesser record.  Just my opinion, but those are the kind of things we’d be arguing about in the future.  We’d be arguing about the last teams in, and who was overseeded and underseeded.  We’d complain that 9 or 10 seed deserved a home game.  We’d fight about which side of the bracket is tougher.

I’d love these conversations.  I’d also love not waiting 5 weeks or longer for games to be played!  The first Saturday in December would wrap up the regular season, and then the next week the tournament would begin.  The second round would take place at the higher seeds the following week.  The Final Four would be played two weeks after that.  Not only would it allow some rest in between, but also would avoid Christmas, and allow fans plenty of time to schedule travel plans.

The Final Four would rotate annually to the highest bidders.  Pasadena, Arizona, Dallas, Miami, New Orleans, or wherever.  Same goes for the Championship game, which would take place two weeks after, or about mid-January.

The postseason would be spread over a month, as it begins just a week after the regular season ends.  Difference is we have good, important football games to talk about over that time.  We’d fill out brackets and crown a champion on the field.

I’ve seen TCU, Nebraska, and Miami play in the Rose Bowl instead of Pac-10 (err 12) and Big Ten (err 12) teams.  I’ve seen 6-6 teams play on New Year’s Day.  I’ve seen the number of Bowl games more than double in my lifetime.  I’d say we’ve seen some pretty radical changes.  Let’s just tear it up and start over and do it right.