College Football Playoffs: A Very Simple Model

Dem Frogs Made All the Cockroaches Proud!

First of all congratulations to the TCU Horned Frogs of 2010 for once more fulfilling the ancient warnings of former UT Coach Darrell Royal; “Like cockroaches, it’s not what the Horned Frogs come in and haul away that hurts, it’s what they fall into and mess up that causes all the pain.”

Yesterday the Frogs of TCU fell into the “Granddaddy of ‘Em All,” the Rose Bowl and messed it up for Mighty Wisconsin, the Big Ten, and all other supporters of the big time power school football system that stands in the way of all little guy schools from ever having anything more than the once-in-a-purple-moon chance at winning big that fell to little TCU on the first day of 2011. The system still succeeded in keeping TCU away from the main banquet hall and the so-called national championship game. Those exclusive seats were reserved for two of the undefeated good old boys of Auburn and Oregon at a site and date down the road.

It’s time for taking the bowl setup and converting it away from the total snoozer they’ve ll become and reinvesting a few games with the fervor of a playoff. Here’s a simple model for doing a 16-club playoff, using the best paying bowls as the way to get there. For models, I am using the 16 top rated BCS clubs from 2010 and this past month’s calendar to set the thing up. The leftover bowls can simply fill their dance cards with all the “bowl eligible” 6-6 clubs they can dig up. They will be no worse off under this new plan than they were under the dull and deadly system in place now.

Round One: Friday & Saturday, December 17-18, 2010:

Friday, Dec. 17

(1) Insight Bowl, Tempe, AZ ($3.25m) #1 Auburn vs. #16 Alabama (Bama gets a second chance)

(3) Holiday Bowl, San Diego, CA ($2.075m) #3 TCU vs. #14 Oklahoma State

(5) Pinstripe Bowl, New York, NY ($2.00m) #5 WIsconsin vs. #12 Missouri

(7) Chick-fil-A Bowl, Atlanta, GA (3.35m)  #7 Oklahoma vs. #10 Boise State

Saturday, Dec, 18

(2) Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, TX ($3.125m) #2 Oregon vs. #15 Nevada

(4) Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando, FL ($2.225m) #4 Stanford vs. #13 Virginia Tech

(6) Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX ($2.05m) # 6 Ohio State vs. #11 LSU

(8) Outback Bowl, Tampa, FL ($3.4m) #8 Arkansas vs. #9 Michigan State

Round Two, Friday & Saturday, December 24, 25:

The surviving eight clubs play each other down to the four who will meet in two major bowls on New Years Day, 2011.

Round Three, Saturday, January 1, 2011:

These two bowls will determine our two finalists.

Round Four, Saturday, January 8, 2011:

The National NCAA Football Championship Game.

Notes: Don’t get hung up on the payoffs listed above or the actual dates of play. The schedule could be adjusted to accommodate equitable payoffs and rotating participation by bowls that ante up from year to year – and the schedule of games could be worked away from Christmas the NFL as much as possible. The point of this exercise is simply to show that a playoff system is workable. Teams that win have to play more games, but, of course, they get a bigger payday for winning than they do now. Pro rata pay to other NCAA schools could also be included as another incentive for general support.

Bottom Line: We could have a system that generates interest – and not just a regeneration of power and money for the few who now control college football with the BCS and traditional bowl game set up.

What’s your preference? Change? Or the status quo?

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8 Responses to “College Football Playoffs: A Very Simple Model”

  1. Bill Gilbert Says:


    I agree that a playoff is feasible but I would prefer 8 teams rather than 16. It cuts down the time required and a team that finishes lower than No. 8 in the regular season shouldn’t really be considered as a contender for National Champion.

    Bill Gilbert

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Bill: EIght works for me too. Your points about the worthiness of any team ranked lower than eight is valid and it also makes for much easier scheduling. I went with sixteen above as a fairly imperfect defense against voters “fixing” their top picks. I think it would be harder to bury a deserving top 8 club in a list of 16 than it would be to simply leave them off a list of 8, but maybe not. People who tilt the pinball machine always find a way to do it.

      At any rate, here’s how this year’s class could have matched up in the Top BCS 8 could have paired up in the first round:

      #1 Auburn vs. #8 Arkansas
      # 3 TCU vs. #6 Ohio State
      #2 Oregon vs. #7 Oklahoma
      #4 Stanford vs. #5 Wisconsin

      There are many other ways to do it, of course, but I tried to give the top two clubs of eight best seeding in two simple brackets, leaving the door open for both to play their way into the game they are now getting with the BCS point system in place. With this 8-club “playoff” system, the top 2 teams would each have to go 2-0 in games against the other clubs to make that happen. That’s probably about as realistic as we can hope to make it without simply dropping the ruse that college football players are playing as amateur student athletes – and then going with a much larger field over a longer tourney course of time. You could only do that with players who get paid as professionals on top of the table – and also ones who officially attend no classes.

  2. Bob Hulsey Says:

    You’re each getting closer to my own plan:

    Take the top eight conference champions as ranked by the BCS with the first round in mid-December in the home stadium of the higher seed. This year that would be:

    #8 Connecticut at #1 Auburn
    #7 Virginia Tech at #2 Oregon
    #6 Boise St. at #3 TCU
    #5 Oklahoma at #4 Wisconsin

    Note, only conference champions qualify – no wild cards – so teams like Stanford and Arkansas get left out because they didn’t win the first prerequisite for being a national champion – becoming a conference champion. Conferences where ties exist will select a representative based on their own criteria.

    The semi-finals would be held New Years weekend in two of the major bowls then the finals would be two weekends later at a neutral site. That leaves two weeks in between each contest for things like finals and holiday visits and only four teams will have expanded seasons so I don’t want to hear about the poor put-upon “student-athlete”.

    By having eight conferences in the mix, you practically guarantee at least one cinderella gets a seat with the big boys so no complaints either about undefeateds from lesser conferences getting left out.

    What I love most about the plan is that it maintains the integrity of the conference schedule since winning the conference becomes all-important and it will encourage and reward teams who schedule and beat good non-conference opponents because strength of schedule is part of the BCS rankings which might make the difference between playing the first round at home or on the road.

  3. David Munger Says:

    The BIG BOYS knock their brains out during conference play, THE CUCARAHAS play one or two tough games during the season and have a month to get ready for their season. I’m all for the “Little Guy” but strength of schedule seems to matter not. Now TCU is in the “BIG EAST”,
    at least they are in the BCS, but man the conference champ sure had a
    “UNWORTHY BCS TICKET”. I guess I’m just not ready for a Playoff where some schools play Champioship games and others get in with “CUPCAKE SCHEDULES. GEAUX TIGERS and THE SEC, lets get “ONE FOR THE THUMB”. Don’t be HATERS.(LOL)

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