Playoffs? It Makes Sense

Dec. 19, 2006

By Eric Mirlis

Senior Editor,



Eric Mirlis is Senior Editor for and covers various collegiate sports.
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I think we can all safely agree that the BCS system, as it currently exists, is broken beyond repair. So, I've devised my plan for making it better.


Is my idea plausible? No. Why? Because it makes sense and I think it's fairly obvious that the powers that be that run college football are more interested in the money they get from their system as opposed to instituting a system that makes sense, even one like this that would make a boatload of bucks.


I say this: Make it a 16-team tournament. Not eight. Sixteen. Here are the first round matchups, using the following parameters:


- All 11 Bowl Subdivision conferences get an automatic bid. Yes, even the Sun Belt. If they play a full season at this level, they have every right to be included. Let their regular season mean something, and, at the same time, reward them for getting beat up by their more powerful brethren all season.

- The other five bids go to the five highest ranked BCS teams that did not receive an automatic bid. The standings are there, so let's find a decent use for them.

- No conference can have more than two bids. Let's spread the wealth, which will ultimately make all of the conferences happy over the long haul. It does mean that some teams might be left out every year, but it also adds some extra weight to the regular season. Finish at the top and you've got nothing to worry about.

- The seedings are in BCS Standings order, no exceptions. Again, they are there, so let's use them in a way that makes sense.


First Round:

No. 1 Ohio State (12-0, Big Ten bid) vs. No. 16 Troy (7-5, Sun Belt bid)

No. 8 Oklahoma (11-2, Big 12 bid) vs. No. 9 Notre Dame (10-2, ranked 11th in BCS)


No. 4 LSU (10-2, ranked 4th in BCS) vs. No. 13 BYU (10-2, MWC bid)

No. 5 USC (10-2, Pac-10 bid) vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech (10-2, ranked 15th in the BCS)


No. 3 Michigan (11-1, ranked 3rd in the BCS) vs. No. 14 Houston (10-3, C-USA bid)

No. 6 Louisville (11-1, Big East bid) vs. No. 11 Wake Forest (11-2, ACC bid)


No. 2 Florida (12-1, SEC bid) vs. No. 15 Central Michigan (9-4, MAC bid)

No. 7 Boise State (12-0, WAC bid) vs. No. 10 West Virginia (10-2, ranked 13th in the BCS)


No at-large team has more than two losses, so no one can scream that someone is out of place. And look at this first round matchup - Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame, with the winner facing Ohio State? I don't think anyone can really complain about that one. Plus, you've got Louisville against Wake Forest, which is exactly what we'll see in the Orange Bowl this year, and Boise State gets a real test from West Virginia. The high end teams all get a lesser opponent in the first round, which they have all earned.


Check out the possible second round matchups. Every one of them is a potential blockbuster...and possible upset. Of course, they are all also major money-makers, which is what this is all about, anyway, right?


As far as when and where to play the games, use eight smaller bowls for the first round the weekend of Dec. 16-17 (as the calendar falls this year). Use the Fiesta, Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton and one more for the quarters and semis the weekend before and after New Year's and have a separate national championship game the following week. The other 17 bowl games that currently exist would host teams not in the BCS and be played between the first round of the tournament and the quarters, enabling all the players to take their exams. Fifty teams would still play at least one bowl game, which is plenty, especially with all of those 6-6 teams cluttering up the postseason picture as it currently stands.


Who loses in all this? Yes, the argument can be made that Wisconsin, Auburn and Arkansas should all be a part of this. But a line needs to be drawn somewhere and two teams from any given conference certainly is enough. And before the argument is made regarding the exclusion of those teams at the expense of including conferences such as Conference USA or the Sun Belt, I remind everyone that the most thrilling games in the NCAA Basketball Tournament are the ones involving conferences exactly like those, where no one expects much of a game, then gets glued to the television watching an exciting potential upset. Let's see if that can translate from the hardwood to the gridiron before backhandedly dismissing it.


Now, who benefits? Everyone.  Especially anyone who wants to make money. If you are the Independence Bowl, for instance, would you rather have your current matchup (6-6 Alabama against 6-6 Oklahoma State) or one of the first round games listed above? The majority of those matchups brings with it huge fan bases, which translates to a lot of money. Even if they don't get a full traveling party from each school, the amount of fans from many of the top schools likely to travel to an opening round contest and subsequent games is greater than that of a second-tier school playing in a meaningless game. And don't come to me with the students missing classes garbage - it is between semesters at most schools, unlike that other money making NCAA Tournament in March. Plus, that argument was clearly ignored when the decision was made to add a 12th game to the schedule, so don't even bother making it now.


Oh, yeah. How to distribute the money, which we all know is what this whole thing is about to begin with. A team collects the paycheck from the game in which they lose. Advance and the paycheck grows. When you win a game, that check goes into the coffer of your conference, to be distributed evenly among all the schools in the conference. Something tells me that will help some teams get over their exclusion from the playoff.


The only downside I see to the whole thing is that it actually makes sense. Which is why it will never happen.



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