Monday, January 07, 2008

College Football Playoff

I'll be watching tonight when Ohio State and LSU play, but I hope some year soon I am treated to a major college football playoff. Click below for a blueprint on how it could happen.

An 11-game regular season begins the first Saturday in September and ends on the Saturday that precedes Thanksgiving by 12 days.

The day after the regular season ends, a selection committee like the one for the NCAA basketball tournament identifies the top 16 teams for a seeded four-round playoff.

The 15 playoff games are bid on by bowls, perhaps with a rotation similar to the one for the Bowl Championship Series now.

The playoffs begin the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving with a game at 7. The next game is Thanksgiving night at 7. Then games at 11, 3, and 7 on Friday and Saturday. That concludes the first round, college football's version of March Madness, with the difference that there would be no overlap of games. Everyone sees every game.

Second round occurs the next weekend with a game at 7 Friday night and games at 11, 3, and 7 on Saturday.

Third round -- football's Final Four -- occurs the next weekend with games at 3 and 7 on Saturday.

The national championship game is New Year's Day at 7 p.m. It would be preceded by a menu of bowl games featuring the best teams that didn't make the playoffs.

Other bowl games occur between the third round and New Year's Day.

It means a 15-game season for the two finalists, but that's already happening now in the lower divisions of college football with playoffs. Teams playing in conference championships are playing 14 games now.

There would be 11 days' break between the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs. There would be 2+ weeks between the third round and the championship -- plenty of time for semester exams and game preparation while avoiding the month-or-more layoff teams face now.

No more conference championship games, but if this were done right, the money would be mind-boggling and the wealth could be shared. A conference would be more concerned about getting as many of its teams as possible in the playoffs, in which case it wouldn't want two of its best teams playing each other right before the top 16 are selected.

Would the stadiums be full? Fans of teams (especially in the north) would have to travel a lot. Do fans not "buy in" until the third or final round? Getting 15,000 for a basketball game is different than getting 80,000 for a football game. Even if each team brought 20,000, that still leaves half the stadium to fill. Maybe the first round games are played at the homes of the higher-seeded teams.

Then again, people in host cities/regions show up for regular bowl games. Even more people would be interested in a do-or-die elimination game between teams competing for the national championship. The way to sell it is that every game in a sense is a national championship game. The two teams in front of you can't win the championship unless they win the game you are watching.

No comments: