Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Plan for BCS Equity in a Playoff

BigXII vs. SEC

Sugar Bowl

Semifinal 1
Rotating BCS Site
Big East vs. ACC

Orange Bowl

Championship Game
Rotating BCS Site
Big10 vs. Pac10

Rose Bowl

Semifinal 2
Rotating BCS Site
NonBCS* vs. AtLarge**

Fiesta Bowl

*The Non-BCS conferences form their own organization to determine their entrants into the BCS tournament. They can sell the television rights, etc.
**The pollsters and computers retain their contribution by selecting the At-Large entrant, the highest ranked non-automatic birth as determined by the current BCS ranking process.


  • The current BCS cities and their Bowl organization’s get to keep their game plus and extra game 3 out of 4 years. I cannot see their local chambers of commerce complaining about that.
  • Television gets more programming with less competition. Imagine Semi-final Saturday!
  • Big10 and Pac10 get to keep their traditional Rose Bowl match up.
  • Television contract grows. I can see Roy Kramer coming out of retirement to sell this thing to the highest bidder.
  • Participant’s payouts grow as they advance. This means more academic and Title IX funding, or whatever. I am sure the university presidents will have no problem spending it.


  • Harm to non-BCS bowls. This argument was also made when the BCS was created. I am not buying it.
  • Season is too long. They have been making this argument for years. Only 4 teams would be required to play extra games with the exception of a play-in system for non-BCS conference champs. Florida played 14 games last year. This system would have required them to play 16 if the 12 game regular season remains. This is a stumbling block due to departments budgeting that 12th game in indefinitely.
  • Impact on Academics, please. If the basketball “student-athletes” can do it I believe the football players will manage.
  • Scheduling, starting before Jan 1 would be a big problem, competing with NFL Saturday playoff games in January would have to be addressed.


Obviously, this is not a comprehensive plan, please consider it a "Plus 3" from 40k feet. I have tried to address the core points made by opponents to a playoff. In my opinion the institutional opposition is mainly about control and finances. This system allows the BCS conferences to retain control and the lion’s share of the pie. History and tradition, very integral parts of college football, simply cannot be overcome. I would like to point out, however, that the Rose Bowl has survived, as has the 3rd Saturday in October. Incremental change has been a constant in college football and the game is stronger than ever. Now, let’s make that last push and finally decide a legitimate champion of the football field.


Anonymous said...

I've proposed something very similar to this before with the BCS bowls being used as an 8-team playoff in couple of blog posts:

The Best of Both Worlds

Presidential Commission on the Establishment of a College Football Playoff

However, I'm starting to see how an unseeded plus-one would be much more likely to be accepted. Here's how I would envision it:

Reexamining the Plus-One College Football Option

What's important to note now, among other things, is that the Big Ten, SEC, and Big 12 are all accustomed to sending 2 teams to BCS bowls per year. They aren't going to give that up in order to grant the non-BCS conferences a guaranteed bid or reduce the number of at-large bids out there, which puts a real block on the prospect of an 8-team playoff.

I also used to echo your thoughts on the effect of a playoff on the non-BCS bowls, but as I've thought about it more, it would truly relegate all of the non-BCS bowls to the equivalent of the NIT in college basketball as opposed to lucrative exhibition games. We can say all we want that the bowls could still be played at the same time as a playoff, but in reality, it would have the same effect of the 1970s expansion of the NCAA Tournament on the NIT (which was once almost as prestigious as the national championship itself): the bowls will be completely uninteresting and irrelevant (as opposed to somewhat interesting and somewhat relevant as they are today).

I'm not saying that a plus-one is better than a playoff or would be a perfect system, but it would be at least better than what we have now and it's a plan that the BCS conferences and bowls could conceivable agree to in their rational economic best interests.

MikeInValdosta said...

Frank, a very interesting and comprehensive read on the plus one format. My problem with ti remains the subjective nature of taking two teams from five games. I understand you are being pragmatic and working with a framework you believe to be "permanent".

You are probably dead on that 8 teams does not provide enough opportunity for the power conferences as 10 teams. My format, however, provides 4 temas and additional BCS paycheck and two of those receive a 3rd BCS paycheck. Therefore the power conferences would normally reap more income than in a plus 1 involving 10 teams.

I would certainly ettle for your system as a step in the right direction. Thanks for sharing!