Commentary: My Unique College Football Playoff Proposal
by Jonathan Hodges
Well, the end of the regular season in college football is in sight so you know
what that means: talk about bowls, rankings, and the BCS. And every year there
is almost undoubtedly a debate about who should or shouldn't be in the title
game, except in cases where there are just two undefeated teams left among the
120 teams that play FBS level football. Which leads me immediately to my
proposed college football playoff system:
This playoff system would include EVERY undefeated team, and
ONLY them. Basically, it would be a quest for a perfect
Zero undefeated teams? No playoff. No national
champion. Yes, still play the bowls and still do post-bowl rankings, but nobody
is the national champion.
One undefeated team? They can play in a
bowl, but must win in order to win that championship. If they lose, it will be
like the situation above: no champion.
Two undefeated teams?
That's easy enough: the current system can definitely handle such a matchup, and
this system will ensure that non-BCS conference teams get into such a game and
can play it out for the championship.
Three unbeaten teams? Now,
it's a tad more difficult. In this case, I would support a playoff with one
team getting a bye (using rankings to determine seedings).
more unbeatens? This is where it becomes more complicated. In this case I
would advocate a more traditional playoff structure, with rankings determining
the seeds and byes coming into play if needed depending on the number of
unbeaten teams. (Alternatively, one could play a random-draw round robin with
any unbeaten teams then put into one of the scenarios above; a;though this would
provide an opportunity for no unbeaten to emerge. One could also easily play
such a round robin with three teams.)
Save the final game (between two
unbeatens) for the current BCS national championship time slot (second week in
January). If more teams are required, work backwards in order to play games.
These days, with the 12 game schedule and many NCAA rules legislating equity
into the game, there are rarely enough unblemished squads to push such games
earlier than late December. Play these games at the higher seeded team's home
stadium except for the final game between two unbeaten teams, in which case it
will be at a bowl location (if there are four or fewer teams one could also
employ bowl games for earlier rounds).
Keep the bowl system in play as it
is now except without the unbeaten teams who will be vying to remain undefeated
for the ultimate crown. If there are no undefeated teams, play the bowls as
they are now but without a title game in the second week of January. Again,
nobody is undefeated and nobody gets the crown, even if someone ends up ranked
first - they just happen to be the best team at that
I call it unique because I
haven't seen such a proposal anywhere and because it would keep intact things
that keep college football truly different than virtually every other sport.
Every season is indeed different and this proposal would acknowledge that by
adjusting the playoff based on how many teams make it through unscathed. Also,
it keeps a lofty goal that can be attained by anyone - all you need to do is win
every game and you'll get your shot if you can finish the deal. And it
acknowledges that some seasons, there just isn't a team that is in fact better
than everyone else. Yes, that's a bit disappointing, but there are still the
bowl games and final rankings to keep you interested.
|Below are the number of undefeated teams (after bowl games) by year over the
last 20 seasons (note that only 4 years would have resulted in a vacant
Yes, such a system
would likely never happen, especially given that arranging things like game
locations and TV coverage have to be ironed out far in advance and the number of
games would remain unknown until the final games of the regular season are
played in early December. Also, there is likely no way that NCAA members would
allow any kind of playoff under the current situation, as the expansion of the
season beyond one potential bowl game for each team would require a successful
vote of FBS football playing schools; right now, the BCS conference schools
wield too much power and money to give the little guys a piece of the pie (and
there is no way that the "little guys" will let such a proposal fly without
themselves getting some of that money and
I believe such a system would give
everyone a very fair shot at the title and would keep many college football
traditions intact and would make the sport even more unique than it already is.
And, depending on the year, it could be quite a ride to the true championship.
Even if there is no champion, we're left with our current situation but with
every team knowing that they had their shot at going all the way and that they
can't complain about lacking a shot at a title.
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is the primary content provider of HailToPurple.com. His commentary
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