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Posted Dec. 1, 2008

College Football Playoff System

Barack Obama won the 2008 Presidential election by the largest margin in the past 20 years. Seven percent and nine million votes was the difference, but how did he do it?

Obama is a man of the people, especially college football fans advocating for a playoff system. There are more than nine million college football fans in this country wanting a playoff, so my only conclusion is going on ESPN saying he wants to implement a playoff system won him the Presidency - not that choosing a moose killing hockey mom who thinks dinosaurs co-existed with humans as your Vice President would lose you the election...

Anyway, it is not that easy. There are many problems associated with making a collegiate playoff system: cost for fans of these teams wanting to see the playoff games and trying to make the system as fair as possible.

I might not be running for the Presidency in 2012 on the WalterFootball.com party ticket (then again if the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska can be the heartbeat away from the Presidency six years later), but I do have a well thought-out playoff system taking care of a lot of problems along the way.

Here are a few elements you must understand before I disclose my system to you:

1. There is no such thing as a PERFECT PLAYOFF. Every playoff can be criticized. Nothing is perfect. Playoffs can be too long. Take a look at the NBA. Some teams last year got in with losing records and the playoffs drag on over a two-month period. More than half the league gets in the playoffs. It's a joke. In the NCAA Basketball tournament, 65 teams get in, but a No. 9-16 seed has never won the dance and never will because they lack the talent and depth. I think having one too many rounds is detrimental to the other 32 teams in the tournament because they are more tired than they should be later in the tournament.

So, every time you criticize my playoff and find a weakness, realize that your expectation of a perfect system doesn't exist. My playoff system has flaws, just like any other, but I do think it is one of the best presented.

2. Lines must be drawn on how many teams get in, in every playoff. Every year we hear the debating on who got left out of the NCAA basketball tourney, but quite frankly they do not matter because those teams have no chance of winning the dance anyway. If we had a four-team playoff now in college football, people would be debating about who did not get in. Then they make it an eight-team playoff, and it still is not good enough. People would then say, "Why can't we make it one round longer?" You have to draw the line somewhere, or you get a playoff that is too long. There will be teams shunned in a college football playoff, but you will have to get over this and accept it.

We cannot have too long of a playoff in college football for a few reasons. One, it would cost too much money for the fans supporting these programs to afford the tickets and travelling expenses associated with the games. Two, the meaning of the regular season would be diluted. No one cared last year in basketball when No. 1 Memphis played No. 2 Tennessee because we all knew they would be top seeds in the dance. I believe it is important to keep the regular season relevant. Three, the season cannot be too long because of the senior class. Some players in the senior class go onto the NFL and must compete in the Senior Bowl and Pro Days. If the playoff is too long then these players will be too exhausted for the Senior Bowl and the NFL season.

On to my playoff system.

This is a pretty simple premise with a few very important changes to the regular season and conference championships. This is an eight-team playoff. All of the big bowl games are done away with: Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, etc. The NCAA can find a way to sponsor these games somehow and just rename each with the sponsor's name. For example, one game would be called the Tostito's Bowl. This would probably generate more money with the brand name associated with the game as opposed to the Fiesta Bowl.

How are these eight teams voted in? The BCS computer system is used, and the Harris and USA Today polls are thrown out. Coaches have to focus on their team and conference only and should not be included in the BCS system. Instead, a formula is used with the BCS and the AP writers. I think the AP is comprised of a bunch of idiots, but we need some human subjective reasoning for this decision.

Changes to regular season? Yes. I think it is completely stupid how a team like USC gets three bye weeks in their regular season. It is not fair to other teams who only have one or two bye weeks. Instead, there is a set amount of games and bye weeks. Every team plays 12 regular season games starting in the last weekend of August, and each team is granted one bye week to use.

Also, conference championships are done away with. They are pretty pointless - except for the money they generate, but as fans, no one complains about these money makers. It is not fair that SEC and Big XII teams have to play an extra game, but the Pac 10 and Big Ten does not. Sometimes it is not fair to USC, who does not get an opportunity to improve their standing in a conference championship. To make this more conforming, all conference championships are done away with.

After the regular season is completed, there is an off week for all teams to rest, practice, and scout their opponents in the playoff or bowl games (if they are not selected to a playoff, then they play in a bowl in December).

There is a monetary issue with playoffs. Fans cannot afford to travel from destination to destination, especially with the economy going through the tubes. In this eight-team playoff, the first two rounds are home games. The higher seed gets the home game. The championship is played at a neutral location. This way, most fans do not have to pay for traveling expenses. Sure, there will be some fans from the visiting team, but this is better than having to travel from neutral location to neutral location.

So, there you have it. Nothing earth shattering, but it is more detailed than most systems presented. I know most of you would probably want 16 teams, but keep in mind an extra four games for the senior class would be detrimental to their rookie NFL seasons (one game makes a big difference), might not be enough rest prior to the Senior Bowl, and decrease the importance of the regular season.

Please e-mail with your questions and/or comments!



Matt McGuire's Recent NFL Draft Blog Entries:

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Kentucky 2010 NBA Draft Prospect Blog - 6/1
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2010 NFL Power Rankings Tier - 5/21
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