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Argument: A 16-team college football playoff would be best

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Supporting quotations

Michael Shull. "BCS No More: College Football Needs Playoffs to eliminate the BS." College Sports Fans.: "I have chosen the 16-team format for one reason and one reason alone. FAIRNESS, something that has long been neglected by the NCAA for Division I-A Football Bowl Subdivision football. You see, the whole idea of the BCS basically limits any real chance at any kind of a fair chance for 45 of the 120 Division I-A college football programs in 2009. With 65 teams in BCS Conferences and over 90% of the BCS Bowl Game bids (and the $17 million payout for playing in those games, win or lose), the deck is stacked against the non-BCS teams in the WAC, Mountain West, MAC, Conference USA & Sun Belt. Add in the whole Notre Dame special name recognition and money clause and the deal is even more corrupt. So we start with 16 teams – 11 conference champions and 5 at-large bids.

The BCS computers, the same computers that somehow placed Oklahoma over Texas for the 5th tie-breaker in the Big 12 South this season despite Texas’ win over the Sooners in the regular season, can be put to a new use under my plan. The BCS formula can now be used to help determine seeding for our new playoff system for college football. Seeds 1-6 can remain with the 6 BCS Automatic Qualifier conferences (unless a new conference were to emerge as a BCS member), assuming these conference champions are ranked above non-BCS AQ conference champions. The rest of the seeds can be determined by a selection committee (much like the NCAA Tournament) and the BCS numbers, which are the equivalent of college basketball’s RPI rankings.

For example, based on the 2007 BCS rankings, our playoff would include these 16 teams in the following order:

  1. Ohio State (Big Ten Champion) vs. 16. Florida Atlantic (Sun Belt Champion)
  2. LSU (SEC Champion) vs. 15 Central Michigan (MAC Champion)
  3. Virginia Tech (ACC Champion) vs. 14 UCF (Conference USA Champion)
  4. Oklahoma (Big 12 Champion) vs. 13 BYU (MWC Champion)
  5. USC (Pac-10 Champion) vs. 12 Florida (at-large, BCS #12)
  6. West Virginia (Big East Champion) vs. 11 Arizona State (at-large, BCS #11)
  7. Georgia (at-large, BCS #5) vs. 10 Hawaii (WAC Champion, BCS #10)
  8. Missouri (at-large, BCS #6) vs. 9 Kansas (at-large, BCS #8)

How this playoff would have ended none of us will ever know, but what would likely have avoided is highly-hyped BCS Championship Game blowouts like the past two seasons where Ohio State could not matchup with Florida and LSU of the SEC.

2008 is even more interesting. Normally, a non-BCS conference team needs to finish in the Top 12 of the final BCS rankings to be BCS bowl-eligible, or in the Top 16 with at least one other BCS conference champion ranked below them. This season, we have 3 non-BCS conference teams in the BCS Top 12 with Utah being guaranteed a BCS Bowl berth. However, while an undefeated Boise State has more BCS wins in the past two years in half as many games, it seems likely that the “sexier” Ohio State will instead be cashing in on another $17 million while a higher-ranked and more deserving Boise State gets left out of the BCS. Remember when I mention fairness above?

So what do we do with the bowls? I love bowl games as much as anyone, and I do not want them to go away nor do they need to be eliminated. A 16-game tournament means 15 games will be played, 15 games that can be hosted by the Top 7 bowls, matched up regionally as best as possible, with the four big-money (current) BCS bowl games, the Rose, Orange, Fiesta & Sugar hosting the College Football Final Eight through the National Championship.

The 16-team format eliminates the need for 8 traditional bowl games because those 16 teams are now in the playoffs. Thus, the current 34 bowl games will be reduced to 26 bowls. Some overlap will likely be needed with the 3 non-BCS bowls involved in the first round of our playoff format, but this could allow some cities to double-dip and actually get two bowl-caliber games (one bowl, one playoff game). This overlap could even be rotated to allow for a greater economic impact to ensure the same cities do not get the tourism dollars year in and year out."

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