I grew up in Ohio. I have always been a die-hard Buckeye fan--the fan that gets physically sick when they play poorly. I was on cloud nine when they went 14-0 and won the "national championship" for the 2002 season (actually won it against Miami in Jan 2003 in Tempe, AZ.) I am also a Univ of Utah fan, as I went to school there. I would like to see how the Utes would do against Oklahoma, USC, Auburn and Boise State--all five of which went through the regular 2004 season unbeaten.
For me, before the BCS and 28 bowl games, there were just a handful of post-season match-ups. As a Buckeye fan, all we really cared about was winning the Big Ten and going to the Rose Bowl to play the winner of the PacTen. That's been the goal of all Big 10 and PacTen schools for as long as I can remember. To a certain extent, it is still the goal. Everyone realizes that a national champ is sort of a scam and all the dice need to fall your way. And we all know the BCS is a joke.
The BCS was a program set up by the greedy ADs of each of the 6 conference schools that make up the BCS. Their goal is to maximize the profits to each of the schools in their respective conferences. Even the schools that have crappy programs; e.g., Vanderbilt, get a share of the spoils.
We also know that today's bowl scene is a joke. There are just under 120 Division 1A teams. With 28 sponsored bowls, 56 teams get a birth in postseason--almost half. With a mandatory 6-win requirement, they have a tough time finding enough teams to meet the quota. Add any more bowls and the regular season will need to be extended in order to garner enough teams with the necessary 6 wins. If it weren't for the 3 pre-conference games in which most schedule patsies, those 6 wins would be almost impossible for 56 teams.
Why not a Division 1A playoff? The lower division schools pull it off and do a good job of it. The problems are financial, due to the current bowl and city/town/regional commitments. I talk with lots of fans. We would all like to see a 1A playoff. We all have our opinions on how it could work. Here's mine...
- Create a 16 team playoff, single elimination, winner take all.
- 16 teams comprised of the winners of all the 11 conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, Big East, CUSA, Sun Belt, MAC, Mountain West, WAC, PacTen) plus five at large bids. (It is possible to do a 32 team tourney but it would add an extra week on the front or rear. 32 teams would lessen the blow by taking the number of post-season games from 28 to 15 that a 16-team tourney would offer. A 32-team tourney would offer 31 games...) Let go with the 16-team tourney though.
- Each conference would decide if the representing is from the regular season or a conference championship winner. This would encourage stronger pre-conference match-ups.
- The 5 at-large teams would come from the pools--coaches, press and computers. The top 5 teams not winning their conferences would get the invitations. (Norte Dame and Navy, join a conference!)
- The games would in fact be bowl games in today's vernacular. The first 8 games would be placed the first weekend in Dec--Friday and Saturday. The winners would play in 4 quarter-final games the second Friday and Saturday of December.
- The two semi-final games will be played the 3rd Saturday in December
- An all-star game will be played on the 4th Saturday in December. The teams playing in the final will have no representatives.
- The championship game will be played on New Years Day.
- The rounds of 16 and 8 will take place at rotating locations. Cities/regions bid and they get awarded based on merit, region, past experience, facilities, etc. Two games should be played at each location--one on Friday and one on Saturday. (This limits the number of cities but it helps encourage travel--two games for the price of one airplane ticket.)
- The semi-finals and final will take place in rotated regions--3 games in the south, or southwest. Preference should be given to warm-weather locations--FL, NC, SC, GA, AL, MS, LA, TX, AZ, CA, NV. (In December, we all want an excuse to go to warm weather.) The games do not need to be played a traditional bowls sites like Orange, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Rose, but could be (they have the bigger stadiums).
- All games would be played on live TV; no games overlapping with their others (we want to want them all. I can envision that first Friday and Saturday in December wanting 8 games in two days.)
The biggest problem, assuming the financials can be worked out (and they can), are the travel logistics for the fans. The winning fans will have to travel to multiple locations over multiple weeks. Regional scheduling would be the goal, not unlike the basketball tourney. Yea we won't have 28 games played in a matter of two weeks in late-December that no one really cares about, but I can guarantee that the TV audience would be much bigger per contest than today's bowl games.
This would be a tremendous experience for all fans, coaches and participants. Too bad it never will happen.
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