We are only one more year away from college football finally having a playoff to determine a true national champion. The BCS system, while supposed to settle the debate, only caused more controversy over the years. Over the past few decades, there has always been debating over who should play for college football's most prestigious trophy, no matter what system was used. After giving it much thought -- and stealing a little from college basketball -- I believe there is a system that can successfully determine an undisputed national champion, as well as provide more quality matchups in all the other bowl games. Here is what should be done to fix college football's current (and future) problems:
- Create a Bowl Selection Committee: In college basketball, a selection committee determines who will make the postseason and what the matchups are. There should be a Bowl Committee to take over the entire postseason for football as well and take the power out of the individual bowls' hands.
- 8 teams (not 4) should determine the national champion: The NCAA finally came to the decision to have a 4-team playoff, however, this just is not enough. By having 8 teams in the National Championship Tournament, you add more excitement along with whoever wins the National Championship having truly earned the title by going through the best competition.
- Keep the computers, eliminate the voters: There is already a computer system in place with the BCS. I would keep the computer system, however tweak it to add more relevance to strength of schedule, conference championships, and margin of victory. This would get rid of the bias of human voters to play politics and cause schools to create better schedules each year. The end result would be 8 teams that have played the best of the best throughout the season and truly earned their way into the National Championship Tournament.
- No conference affiliations or automatic qualifiers: Every bowl game has some sort of conference affiliation or automatic qualifier. The Conference USA champion always plays in the Liberty Bowl, the Pac 12 champion almost always plays the Big Ten champion in the Rose Bowl every year. The best thing about the postseason in college football should be the matchups you never get to see. The way the system is now, you will never see Michigan vs. Hawaii in the Alamo Bowl, or Texas vs. Rutgers in the Poinsettia Bowl. By dropping the automatic qualifiers, you have more flexibility to create the matchups that will excite people.
- Bowl Selection Committee to determine bowl matchups: Not only should the Bowl Selection Committee oversee the National Championship Tournament, they should select the matchups in the lower bowl games, much like college basketball does. You could create a special day each season to televise all the bowl selections, much like ESPN does with Selection Sunday in college basketball. The committee would take location and drawing power of teams into consideration when determining what teams play in which bowl games. The question might be, "How do you determine what bowls get which teams?"
- Bowls get awarded matchups based on payouts: Bottom line is, the bowl that has the highest payout gets the first matchup from the Bowl Selection Committee. The bowl game that has the lowest payout, gets the last selections from the committee. This would entice bowls to up their payouts in order to get better matchups. Competition is good for everyone, especially college football fans.
- Teams MUST have a winning record to be bowl eligible: There have been too many complaints over the last few years, as more bowls are added each season, that moment a school reaches 6 wins, they are immediately bowl eligible. Under the new system, a team must have at least 7 wins to be bowl eligible. No more 6-6 teams getting to play in bowl games. There are even teams that are 6-6, play in a conference championship and lose, and make a bowl game with a losing record of 6-7! The college football fan is not turning on ESPN in record numbers to watch two 6-6 teams play in a snoozefest. Now you may be asking, "What happens if there are not enough teams with winning records to fill all the bowl games?"
- In the event there are not enough teams to fill all the bowl games... : If there are not enough teams with winning records to fill all the bowl games, the bowls with the least payouts will be dropped for that year. This will once again motivate bowls to pay more to prevent being cancelled for a year. Bowls that are dropped are welcome to come back the following season, provided there are enough teams to qualify for postseason play.
With just a few changes, college football's postseason will undoubtedly be the most exciting month in all of sports. The changes offered here get us all the way to the National Championship Tournament. The lower bowl games will be more exciting and have better matchups for the fans. Check back to see Part Two of our proposal to change the way college football's postseason is played. We will discuss what happens with the four major bowls, the 8 teams in the tournament, and where the National Championship should be played every year.