Monday, November 23, 2009

A Workable BCS Playoff Plan

Towards the end of every college football season there is an outcry against the fairness of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) selection of who the Division I football champion is. Today a complicated formula ranks all of the teams and then the top two teams play in a BCS bowl game the second week of January. Most fans want an eight game three round playoff that will "fairly" crown the winner. There are pages and pages of plans on the Internet that will never come to fruition. The problem is that the proposals will not maximize the profit of the organizations that run the bowls. A plan that focuses on delivering the maximum television revenue to the powers that be in the BCS can be realized.

Today the BCS bowl system has four key games played at the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl on or about New Years Day. The BCS Championship game is played a week later rotating between these four venues. It seems clear that the BCS values a New Years Day/day after (when New Years Day falls on Sunday) and a weeknight championship game a week later. Most of the fans plans involve playing a number of key games between December 15th and December 31st. The BCS clearly does not want their games in December. Television audiences are diminished during this time period. Looking back to 1998 all of the four BCS games were between January 1st and 5th with the BCS championship game on the 7th or 8th.

For the most part the Rose Bowl features the Big Ten versus the Pac Ten champion, the Fiesta Bowl features the Big 12 champion, the Orange Bowl hosts the ACC champion, and the Sugar Bowl hosts the SEC champion.

I will now throw my plan into the proverbial ring and propose the following. All of the eight team playoff plans pushes two of the BCS bowl games into December to allow the winners to play on New Years Day. The eight team plans are total non-starters for the bowls. A four team playoff can work within the current structure. A four team plan would have two BCS games on New Years Day featuring the #1 versus #4 and #2 versus #3 team. The other two BCS games could be played between January 2nd and January 5th. The BCS Championship game could be played on January 7th or 8th featuring the winners of the two New Years Day games.

The advantage of this plan is that the best teams would have extra games, fans would be able to watch four of the top teams play each other, there would be some measure of having the best teams play for the championship, and the bowls would be enriched. The negative side is that two teams would lose out on big time bowl games, the two championship teams would have less than a week to prepare for the championship game, and fans would still complain about not having a true playoff.

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