Given that us Tiger fans are yet again facing a post-season that some fans find frustrating -- finishing well but not possibly getting a bowl option that doesn't satisfy fans (Holiday vs. Washington), this seemed like an appopriate time to discuss -- simply because it's fun to do, no matter how much it has been done before, like conference realignment chat -- reform to the college football postseason.
I'll preface this by saying that if we are stuck with the current bowl/BCS system, I'd like to see these simple reforms:
1. Drop all conference tie ins except for the BCS bowls. I think ending conference tie ins would allow the "bowl free market" to determine great matchups for both teams and fanbases.
2. Get rid of an automatic bid for a conference if they dont have at least one team in the Top 16.
3. No way to force this, obviously, but if we're going to have 35 bowls, why not have some of them in more regional locations -- like St. Louis, Indianapolis, or even college campuses? A Big Ten #5 vs. Big 12 #5 matchup might be tough to draw in Tempe, but I get it would draw in St. Louis or Indy. This might cause the cancellation of some bowls - oh no, we might lose the New Mexico Bowl! -- but to me it would be a good thing.
However, what I'd prefer to see is a much more comprehensive reform that allows us to keep the tradition of the bowls while at the same time implementing a 16 team playoff. Some say that you must do one or the other, but not both -- I disagree. To me, it just takes some creativity and wilingness to make it happen.
Below the fold, see the plan...
So, here's where we start:
- There would be six automatic qualfying conferences, as we have now. All six would be forced to have at least 12 teams and a conference championship game.
- In addition, the two highest non-AQ conference champions would meet in the "Fiesta Wild Card Bowl" the same weekend as the conference championship games -- probably Conference USA and the Mountain West in most years. Yes, that means they would have to decide their champs the weekend before.
- On the Sunday following the conferehce championship games, you would have a BCS poll released and selection show much like we do in basketball. 24 teams overall would be "selected", 16 teams would be selected for a championship playoff and 8 teams would be the "second tier". The 16 playoff teams would be divided into four regions:
1. Cotton Bowl Region
2. Rose Bowl Region
3. Orange Bowl Region
4. Sugar Bowl Region
- The following would automatically qualify for the 16 team playoff:
1. The six league champions and the winner of the Fiesta Wild Card Bowl. (7)
2. Any non league champions in the Top 8 of the BCS.
So, if all those 7 teams finished in the Top 8, you'd have exactly 8 automatic bids. In some years, a couple league champs -- like this year -- would finish outside of it, bumping the number up as more at-large teams would be in the Top 8 and qualifying.
The remaining teams would be selected on an at-large basis and placed into the bracket with the following rules:
- No more than four teams in one conference could make it.
- At least in the Top 25 of the BCS.
- The Top 4 teams in the country must be given the option to be #1 seeds, however the ACC, Big East, Big Ten and Pac 10 Champs, if in the Top 4, could opt to be #2 and remain in their designated region.
- The Big 12 Champ would always play in the Cotton Bowl Region, and the #1 seed if it was in the Top 4.
- The Big 10 and Pac 10 champ would always play in the Rose Bowl region -- unless both were in the Top 4, in which the lower ranked team could opt to be the #1 seed in a different region.
- The ACC and Big East Champs would always play in the Orange Bowl region -- unless both were in the Top 4, in which the lower ranked team could opt to be the #1 seed in a different region.
- The Fiesta Bowl Wild Card champ, if it was in the Top 4, could be placed in any of the four regions but cannot displace a AQ conference champ as the #1 seed in its own region.
- Teams would attempted to be placed as close to the region of their school, but no more than two teams from one conference could be placed in one region -- however, those two teams CANNOT meet in first round.
Those 16 teams would be play in 8 games the Saturday following the conference championship games at the higher seed's home stadium:
COTTON BOWL REGION: 4 at 1, 3 at 2
ROSE BOWL REGION: 4 at 1, 3 at 2
SUGAR BOWL REGION: 4 at 1, 3 at 2
ORANGE BOWL REGION: 4 at 1, 3 at 2
The WINNERS of those games would then play on January 1 in the Bowl Game desginating their region.
The four winners of the bowl games would play no later than January 10 in national semifinals, to be played at the highest ranked two remaining teams in the BCS. The lowest remaining ranked team would play at the highest, second lowest at second highest.
The two winners of that would meet in the National Championship game, to be played the Saturday between the NFL conference championship games and the super bowl.
The LOSERS of those eight first round games would be matched up against the aforementioned eight "second tier" teams, pre-selected by the same selection committee as noted above, who didn't make the playoffs. They would meet in eight bowl games. Four of those games -- The Capital One, the Alamo, the Outback, and the Holiday Bowl -- would be permanent. Four others -- rotated among the other bowls -- would host the other four games.
The bowl game commitees would still select the teams, in rotating fashion, but they MUST pick one team from the losing 8 and match them againsat one team from the eight "second tier" that didn't make the 16 team playoff.
So, to recap:
- 24 TEAMS SET ASIDE BY THE SELECTION COMMITTEE.
- 16 Playoff teams, at least 8 of which are automatic (either by conference champion or Top 8 status)
- 8 Second Tier Teams
The 16 playoff teams meet on the Saturday following the championships (this year, Dec. 11), playing at the higher seeds home stadium.
- The 8 winners of those games then play each other on January 1 in the bowl game designating their egion.
- The 8 losers play the 8 second tier teams in eight bowl games that could fall on any day.
- The other bowls not involving those 24 teams would still continue to exist, free to choose among the teams not among the 24 selected by the selection committee. Right now, there are 70 teams making the post season, so there would still be 46 teams available for selection.
- The winners of the "BCS bowls" or the "national quarterfinals" would then meet in the national semifinals, to be played at the home stadiums of the two highest ranked remainig teams.
- The winner of that would then meet in the BCS Championship game.
1. Games Played is Not a Concern. Right now teams play a max of 14 games. In this system, only TWO teams would play a max of 17, with only the NCG played after classes resume. The two national semifinal losers would play a max of 16. The four "BCS Bowl/quarterfinal" losers would play a max of 15, as would the eight teams who lost their first round game. All others would play a max of 14 games, most just 13, as they do now.
2. Preserves Bowl Games. Every team making it the post season would play in a bowl game on a neutral site., including the eight teams who lost their "first round" game.
3. Enhances Bowl Games. The four major bowls would have added meaning, as would the eight bowls that match the second tier vs. first round losers.
4. Still allows all teams to finish with a bowl game, or at worst, a national semfinal or NCG loss.
5. Travel is not an issue for most fans. Since first round and national semifinal games are on campus sites, there is still only ONE neutral site bowl game for fans to travel to -- for all except the two teams in the NCG, who would have one neutral game on Jan 1 and one the last weekend in January.
6. Preserves the importance of the regular season and conference titles. Ranking higher is rewarded (home games) Schedule strength is rewarded. Finishing in the Top 8 gets you an automatic bid.
SAMPLE, USING 2010:
Fiesta Wild Card Bowl: TCU vs. Nevada -- let's say TCU wins and stays #3.
Let's say rankings stay stay are as they are now, and lets say OU wins Big 12, VT ACC, UCONN Big East.
Cotton Bowl Region:
4. Oklahoma State (at large) at 1. TCU (automatic) -- TCU wins
3. LSU (at large) at 2. Oklahoma (automatic -- LSU wins.
Rose Bowl Region:
4. Boise State (at large) at 1. Oregon (automatic) -- Oregon wins
3. Missouri (at large) at 2. Wisconsin (automatic) -- Wisconsin wins
Orange Bowl Region:
4. Connecticut (automatic) at 1. Stanford (automatic) -- Stanford wins
3. Virginia Tech (automatic) at 2. Ohio State (automatic) -- Ohio State wins
Sugar Bowl Region:
4. Nebraska (at large) at 1. Auburn (automatic) -- Auburn wins
3. Michigan State (automatic) at 2. Arkansas (automatic) -- Arkansas wins
EIGHT ABOVE LOSERS PLAY THESE EIGHT "SECOND TIER TEAMS" IN BOWLS:
Alabama, Nevada, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Utah, Florida State, Miss State, Northern Illinois
COTTON BOWL: TCU vs. LSU -- TCU wins
ROSE BOWL: Wisconsin vs. Oregon -- Oregon wins
ORANGE BOWL: Stanford vs. Ohio State -- Stanford wins
SUGAR BOWL: Auburn vs. Arkansas -- Auburn wins
The semifinals would be #4 Stanford at #1 Oregon and #3 TCU at #2 Auburn. Assume Oregon and Auburn win, they would meet in the National Championship Game in Phoenix.
OTHER 8 SELECTION COMMITTEE BOWLS:
Capital One -- Alabama vs. Oklahoma
Alamo -- Michigan State vs. Texas A&M
Outback -- Florida State vs. Nebraska
Holiday -- Missouri vs. Utah
Rotating In: (4 of the other bowls selected for 2010)
Peach -- Michigan State vs. South Carolina
Music City -- Ok State vs. Miss State
Fight Hunger -- Boise State vs. Nevada -- rematch!
Pinstripe -- UCONN vs. N. Illinois
ALL OTHER BOWLS EXIST AS IS, FREE TO SELECT WHOEVER THEY WANT.
I think this preserves the best parts of the current system (ranking excitement, bowl tradition, regular season) and adds in the stuff we're wanting (playoffs, more excitment in post season, bowl matchups that make more sense).