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Finally, a 16-team solution I like

I'll admit it: I'm starting to come around on the idea of a 16-team playoff. I'm still okay with a 4- or 8-teamer as well, but 16 is starting to sound appealing. I've previously had basically two concerns with this concept in the past: 1) it would give a 3-loss team a shot at the national title, which I hate, and 2) it would all but kill the bowl system...and I've made it very clear just how much I love the bowls.

But in a conversation with a friend of mine, he proposed something I somehow hadn't thought of: bowls as consolation games. Basically you could have the first and second rounds of a 16-team playoff before Christmas, and have the losers of those games still be eligible for bowls after Christmas. I LOVE that idea.

So in my head, here's how it would work:

  1. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, you have your Tourney Selection Show, so to speak. No conference title games (or, alternately, all conferences have a title game). All conference champions get a seat at the table, meaning we would have champions from the Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-10, ACC, Big East, Conference USA, Mountain West, WAC, MAC and Sun Belt filling 11 of the 16 spots, with five at-large bids.

    (Yes, that makes for some craptastic first-round matchups, but oh well. It also makes for an upset that makes "Boise > Oklahoma" look like child's play.)

    I like the thought of a BCS-like formula determining the five at-large bids, simply because I don't trust a selection committee to choose a more deserving Texas Tech team over a bigger name like Ohio State. The formulas get rid of the built-in biases.

  2. As with 1-AA, D-II, D-III, etc., the playoffs would start the next weekend. You'd have Round One the weekend after Thanksgiving (this year, that's 12/6).

  3. The Quarterfinals take place the next weekend (12/13).

  4. On the day after the quarterfinals (12/14), the bowl pairings are announced. All teams not in the semifinals are eligible. The tourney semifinals would take place at two rotating BCS sites. Where applicable, the other BCS bowls could go back to their 'automatic bids' process, where the Big Ten and Pac-10 champs are in the Rose, Big 12 in the Fiesta, SEC in the Sugar, et cetera. (I could see a problem here with travel--bowl bids are only being announced a week later, but that means fans only have 1.5 to 2.5 weeks to make official travel plans.)

  5. As mentioned, the semis would take place on or very near January 1.

  6. The finals would then take place at the same time the BCS Championship Game takes place now--a week(ish) after the semis.

The idea of consolation games assures that the bowl spectacle is not lost. The abbreviated travel plans strikes me as a sticking point, but really that's about the only one. Purists retain the tradition of the bowls, playoff enthusiasts get their playoff. I've finally found a 16-team solution I like.

Potential brackets after the jump.

Before we look at what that could mean for 2008, let's look at what that could have meant in 2007...since this is a Mizzou site, and Mizzou would have clearly been involved in '07.

Automatic Bids

ACC Champion: Virginia Tech
Big East Champion: West Virginia
Big 12 Champion: Missouri (no Big 12 title game, remember?)
Big Ten Champion: Ohio State
Conference USA Champion: Central Florida
MAC Champion: Central Michigan
Mountain West Champion: BYU
Pac-10 Champion: USC
SEC Champion: LSU (tie-breaker over Tennessee & Georgia, who they didn't play, would be highest BCS ranking, I guess?)
Sun Belt Champion: Troy
WAC Champion: Hawaii

At-Large Bids (from BCS standings)

Boston College

Seeding (from BCS standings)

  1. Missouri
  2. Ohio State
  3. Georgia
  4. Kansas
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. LSU
  7. USC
  8. Oklahoma
  9. West Virginia
  10. Florida
  11. Boston College
  12. Hawaii
  13. BYU
  14. Central Florida
  15. Central Michigan
  16. Troy

Off the top of my head, it goes down like this...

First Round

1 Missouri > 16 Troy
9 West Virginia > 8 Oklahoma
(it happened!)
5 Virginia Tech > 12 Hawaii
4 Kansas > 13 BYU
6 LSU > 11 Boston College
3 Georgia > 14 Central Florida
7 USC > 10 Florida
2 Ohio State > 15 Central Michigan


1 Missouri > 9 West Virginia (because I'm a complete, unabashed homer)
4 Kansas > 5 Virginia Tech
6 LSU > 3 Georgia
7 USC > 2 Ohio State

At this point, the following teams are in the bowl pool: Ohio State, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Florida, Boston College, Hawaii, BYU, Central Florida, Central Michigan and Troy. So you could have Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, OU in the Fiesta, Va Tech in the Orange, etc. Don't know which two BCS games would host the semis, but it doesn't really matter.


1 Missouri > 4 Kansas (damn right)
6 LSU > 7 USC


6 LSU > 1 Missouri

Anyway, I'm obviously forseeing a 16-team Rock M Nation tourney bracket, complete with polls for each game, if people think this format is actually a good idea. Let me know what you think in comments, and if people like the idea, it's a go!