June 21, 2012 by MarkHanrahan20
It looks like progress is finally being made towards a playoff in College Football’s highest levels. Yesterday, the conference commissioners and the Notre Dame Athletic Director came to a consensus on a four team playoff to recommend to the University Presidents when the meet in Washington D.C. next week. The details of the format weren’t released and who knows if those details are even hammered out yet. The likely scenarios would include the top four teams at the end of the season, decided by a combination of computer and human polls or a selection committee, or the top four conference championships. Both options are not without their flaws, there are fears that one conference could dominate the four team “tournament” or that a conference in a down year could sneak in an inferior champion… But, I have a solution. A solution to unofficially expand the field, letting all teams legitimately have a “chance” and a solution to make sure the field isn’t dominated by any one conference.
The first step might very well be the simplest and most important step, yet it’s one that I haven’t heard mentioned at all, well besides some of my Twitter rants, but ELIMINATE CONFERENCE DIVISIONS. Yes, no more East-West, Legends-Leaders, Atlantic-Coast. Eliminate the divisions and open up the conferences. Expansion has already killed the importance of rivalries so there is no need to “protect” any in conference rivalries. Play an open, rotating conference schedule, then take the two top teams in the conference, regardless of geography or if they played the week prior and play a championship game. Last year, for example LSU and Alabama would have had their rematch in the Georgia Dome for the SEC crown, not the National Championship, on a “neutral field” with both teams knowing what was on the table well in advance. Everyone knew well ahead of time that they were the top two teams in the conference, so what was the point in even having Georgia go through the song and dance of playing for the championship?
What if my conference only has eight or ten teams, do we still have a Championship game? Well, you could, but I think Conference USA and the Mountain West may have already come up with a solution for you, conference partnerships. If you don’t have enough teams for a championship, partner with someone who’s in the same boat, play a made-for-TV game and settle it on the field. Not only will this help all teams involved to strengthen their schedule, but it will eliminate many teams’ argument that they deserve a shot. You could have the Big 12 Champion play the Big East Champion in a rotating game between New York and Dallas. Who wouldn’t have loved to have seen TCU and Houston play for a shot to get to the Final Four last year? But what about Notre Dame you say? Well Irish, get with it and join a conference.
So here we are, it’s early December and the larger conferences have already decided their champion and the smaller (not necessarily weaker) conferences have played their “Shootouts” or elimination rounds. Don’t tell the University Presidents, but we basically just had a round of 16, just with a different name. Realistically, this would leave us with a pool of 4-5 “Conference Champions” and 3-4 “Shootout” Champions. This is where the selection process comes in. A few of these teams already know they have an uphill battle. A MAC or Sun Belt Champion realistically doesn’t get a shot, but at least they are getting a seat at the table. The schedules are analyzed, including the championship games, and the committee comes up with the Final Four, only consisting of these teams who needed their campaign with a W, to play it off for the National Championship. The logistics of where you play the games, when to play them, home field vs. Neutral Site can all be decided by people who make a whole lot more money than me, but I just want to make sure we see it all play out on the field…. Seems simple, doesn’t it?
Oh, and one more thing not to tell the presidents…. Makes for a pretty seamless and simple expansion to an Eight Team playoff, doesn’t it?