Mercer Cluster

Playoff scenario in NCAA

Garret McDowell

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So with the face of college football set to drastically change in the coming days, the time for a playoff is more readily apparent than ever. Those who want the BCS gone can finally yell for the destruction of the powerful bowl complex. However, what method of playoff seems best? There are many ideas, so I am going to throw mine into the mix.
I propose a 16-team playoff, one that wouldn’t cancel out the bowl system (as those would, for once and for all, just be postseason games that have no bearing on the outcome of the national championship, and only to those teams who didn’t make the playoff).
Who earns spots to the playoffs though? This is where my new conferences come in:

Lone Star Conference: made up of Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Baylor, TCU, and SMU in one division, Houston, Rice, UTEP, Texas State, UT-San Antonio (both of which are FBS as of 2012), and North Texas in the other.

Big East Conference: made up of Massachusetts (FBS in 2012), Boston College, Pittsburgh, Army, Syracuse, and Rutgers in the North Division, and Navy, Louisville, Notre Dame, Miami (FL), South Florida, and Connecticut in the South Division.

Atlantic Coast Conference: made up of West Virginia, Temple, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Virginia, and Clemson in the North Division, Florida State, North Carolina, NC State, Duke, Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech in the South Division.

Southeastern Conference: still made up of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina in the Eastern Division, LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Arkansas in the West.

Big Ten Conference: made up of Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern, Cincinnati, and Ohio State in the Southern Division, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in the North.

Pac-12 Conference: made up of Hawaii, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington State, Washington, and Fresno State in the North Division, California, San Diego State, San Jose State, USC, Stanford, and UCLA in the South Division.

Mountain West Conference: made up of Arizona, Arizona State, Idaho, Boise State, Nevada, and UNLV in the West Division, Air Force, Colorado, Colorado State, Utah, Utah State, and BYU in the Eastern.

Plains Conference: made up of Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas, and Kansas State in the North Division, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tulsa, and Arkansas State in the South.

Great Midwest Conference: made up of Buffalo, Akron, Bowling Green, Kent State, Miami (OH), Ohio, and Toledo in the Eastern Division, Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Marshall, Northern Illinois, and Western Kentucky in the West.

Big South Conference, made up of Troy, Alabama-Birmingham, East Carolina, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, UCF, and South Alabama (FBS in 2012) in the Eastern Division, Southern Miss, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe, Louisiana Tech, Tulane, Memphis, and Middle Tennessee State in the West.

Each one of these 10 conferences would have one automatic bid designated to their conference champion. The conference champions would be decided via 10 conference championship games held on the first Saturday of December across the board. There would be six spots remaining, set aside for the six highest ranked teams as per the new ranking system that would take into account overall record (with a preference towards all one-loss teams regardless of conference as opposed to any two or more loss team), their conference’s non-conference record for that year, and place in their conference.
The lower your overall score, the higher ranking you have. For each loss in your record, you receive one point. As for your conference’s non-conference record that year, the winning percentage is subtracted from one and added to your team’s value.
Finally, whatever place you finished in the conference is added to your value. For example, a team that finished 11-2, had a conference that won 66.7 percent of their games against other conferences and finished second in their conference would have a value of 4.333.
For at-large spots, the lowest possible value would be a 3.000 (one loss, second place, conference didn’t lose to any other conference).
While many would say that this playoff is too inclusive, I say that it truly eliminates the argument that every conference isn’t represented, and it gives teams that might have a legitimate argument (say one very close loss to the conference champions) to be in the NEW “Big Dance.” Each team would play a set 12-game schedule. Each would have eight conference games, playing their entire subdivision every year.
Also, each team would have a protected rivalry in the other division, meaning that their final two games would be opponents from the other subdivision that rotated every two years, meaning that you would play home and away before switching off. In the Big South and Great Midwest Conferences, they would have just one rotating opponent every year due to them each having seven teams in each subdivision.
As for the four non-conference games, all would be mandated to play against other FBS opponents. Many would find my system to be flawed, because there would be an impetus to play against the lesser teams in other conferences. However, I feel that there would be an impetus to play against who you feel are the better teams. Since you know that your conference will be tough, an insurance policy in case you don’t get invited to the conference championship game or lose in it would be to boost your national profile and ruin other good teams’ seasons that you’re competing against for an at-large position for the playoffs. Your conference needs a leg up, especially due to cellar-dwellers that will probably lose all four games they play. This adds an element of European sports into college football by focusing on the table, head-to-head match-ups, and victories over quality opponents.
Anyway, the 16 teams that qualify will be seeded based on the new ranking system. Number one would play number 16, two plays 15, and so on and so forth. It would be set up the exact same way a regional is set up in college basketball, so it becomes four games for the championship.
Logically, a team could be 9-3 or 10-2 and get in if they win their conference championship, but the quest for that perfect 17-0 team would begin. It adds four extra games at max to the national champion’s schedule (three if undefeated, not necessitating a play-in game if they lose in their conference championship and fall into a tie for sixteenth), but if they are the true best team in the country, then they can handle it. The season would finish in early January at this point, and the playoffs would begin the week after the conference championships. In the case of a tie at the 16th position, a play-in game would occur on the Wednesday following the conference championships, moving the next round game to that Monday.
I personally feel that this would eliminate so much melodrama from BCS rankings (many people complaining about what needs to be added or taken away from this new ranking system) and focus on what people want, more football and more drama-filled games. I would love to show how years past would be affected by this, but since I argue for a conference realignment in this as well, I can’t logically place teams into this playoff system and show you how it would work.
In essence, this is just another potential idea for a playoff to determine a real national champion year-in, and year-out. I would love to see an undefeated team or two rampage through this, to see two 16-0 squads play each other in the real National Championship game.

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Playoff scenario in NCAA