Anybody who’s anybody wants college football to have a playoff system. The fans want to see more competition between the top teams in the country and want more teams playing against each other in a direct line to the championship. The current system leaves the masses up in arms almost every year over the two teams selected for the championship game. By expanding the championship system, pure competition will become more significant while the importance and influence of uncertain computer and human opinion polls will diminish.
Which brings me to the purpose of this column: the most viable college football playoff system proposal yet. Eight teams seeded into a single elimination playoff bracket, with the top BCS ranked team from each of the six major football conferences qualifying (the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10 and the SEC), in addition to the next two best teams receiving at-large bids. It isn’t perfect, or even my personal favorite proposal, but again, it is the most feasible — acknowledging the obvious power that the NCAA and the major conferences hold in the matter.
An eight team playoff allows every major conference to put a team into the playoffs, while still keeping the postseason fairly short at a reasonable three weeks. A 16 team playoff would extend the postseason by an entire month, forcing the top two teams to suffer through a drawn-out battle, adding four extra games to their regular season.
For some reason, the NCAA is of the opinion that using computers to determine a third of the championship rankings system and decreasing the human element of the rankings is a great idea that is unlikely to change soon. That ‘s why the BCS rankings stayed in the proposal, determining qualification bids. Additionally, with all the power that the six major football conferences hold over the championship system, giving each of them one automatic bid would appease them and make it more likely that they sign off on such a proposal.
There are even more features built in that will garner approval from two subsets of fans. First, fans of underdog teams that aren’t in the major conferences, such as this year’s Boise State and Texas Christian University teams, will see that these schools do have a real chance of making the playoffs. Although they would likely have to go undefeated and earn an at-large bid, one might say that an undefeated TCU is equally as deserving as a one loss team that gets its conference’s automatic bid.
Next, there are traditionalist fans who love the history and rituals of college football. This is the kind of fan who won’t want to see the classic games like the Rose, Orange or Sugar Bowls disappear, nor the conference tie-ins that give these games consistency.
In the opening round of this eight team playoff, the four games would still be the current BCS bowls, with the games distributed by ranking through the current conference tie-ins.
For example, using the BCS Rankings released on Nov. 28, No. 1 seed Auburn University from the SEC would still go to the SEC-affiliated Sugar Bowl, taking No. 8 seed West Virginia University (ranked 24th in the BCS, qualifying through the Big East) with it to New Orleans. The winner of that game would play the winner of the Orange Bowl between No. 4 seed Stanford University and No. 5 seed Wisconsin University.
The last reason the NCAA should seriously consider this proposal: more big-money football games. The current system has five major bowl games that bring in lots of attention and money from broadcasting contracts — this system would expand that to seven games.
Russell is a member of the class of 2013.