Thursday, November 29, 2007

No, this is too easy...

I can't pretend that I made this up, or even found it, but Dan Wetzel on Yahoo has a pretty damn good argument and plan (click the link for the complete article, I just included a couple points below) for a Division 1--errr--whatever it's called now---playoff system. It's not like they don't do this in all the other divisions:


Just like in what used to be Division I-AA, the tournament would feature four rounds with teams seeded one through 16. Just like the wildly popular and profitable NCAA men's basketball tournament, champions of all the conferences (all 11 of them) earn an automatic bid to the field.

Yes, all 11. Even the lousy conferences. While no one would argue that the winner of the Mid-American Conference is one of the top 16 teams in the country, there are multiple benefits of including champions of low-level leagues.

First is to maintain the integrity and relevancy of the regular season. While the idea that the season is a four-month playoff is both inaccurate and absurd, there should be a significant reward for an exceptional season.

The chance for an easier first-round opponent – in this case No. 1 Missouri would play No. 16 Central Michigan or Miami (Ohio) – is a big reward for a great regular season. Earning a top-three seeding would present a school a near breeze into the second round. Drop to a sixth-seed in this year's scenario and you are dealing with Florida.

On the flip side, it brings true Cinderella into the college football mix for the first time. Is it likely that Central Florida could beat Ohio State? Of course not, but as the men's basketball tournament has proven the mere possibility (or even a close game) draws in casual fans by the millions.

Last season the most memorable college football game was Boise State-Oklahoma, in part because Boise was the unbeaten underdog that wasn't supposed to win. When it did, in dramatic fashion, it became arguably the most popular team in America.

But it had no shot at a national title because the system says Boise can't be any good in 2007 because it wasn't any good in 1967. As illogical as this is, that's the system.

For even lower-rated conferences – the Sun Belts, the MACs – allowing annual access to the tournament would not only set off celebrations on small campuses but it would encourage investment in the sport at all levels. Suddenly, there would be a reason for teams in those leagues to really care. This would improve quality throughout the country.

With the bigger conferences, a championship would take on greater value. Does anyone without direct rooting interest really care if USC wins the Pac-10 Saturday? How about the Virginia Tech-Boston College ACC title game? You would now.


Understanding that there really isn't anything wrong with most bowl games – it's not like innocent people are dying because the Meineke Car Care Bowl exists – we'll allow them to stick around.

One bowl could serve as the championship game, giving college football its neutral, Super Bowl-style site to conclude the tournament.

As for all the other bowls, they can go on as they wish. The NIT still operates, doesn't it? It's not like most bowl games have any direct bearing on the championship now.

There is value to the smaller bowls in smaller communities. If the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, still wishes to stage a game, it by all means should. It just won't have access to the 16 playoff teams. But it doesn't have access to teams of that quality now. It still can host a meaningless game between two moderately successful schools. For most bowls, nothing changes.


The strangest part of the BCS is that outside businesses – the people who own the bowl games – get a cut of the revenue. It would be unfathomable for a league such as the NFL or NBA to allow independent promoters to stage its playoffs.

College football is leaving millions on the table by staging top games in far-off locales. Ohio State, for instance, earns an estimated $5 million-plus for each home game. And that is just direct revenue. Forbes estimates Buckeye football games generated $42 million for the Columbus area in 2005.

The 14 hugely profitable home games from the first three rounds would create a huge revenue stream.

There is simply no need to include the current bowl structure. Obviously no fan base can afford to travel week after week to neutral-site games. But they wouldn't have to. In what used to be Division I-AA, the playoffs are home field until the title game. That's the way it should be.

The competitive value of home-field advantage would also help maintain the importance of the regular season because the higher the seed, the more home games.

This would also be a boon to teams in the Midwest, which build their teams to deal with the predictably harsh weather only to play postseason games in generally warm, calm environs.

So how would say, USC fare if it didn't get a Big Ten opponent in Pasadena each January, but rather had to slip and slide around Ann Arbor or Columbus for a change? And who wouldn't want to see the Trojans invade one of those historic old stadiums, snow falling, and proving they have grit not just skill?