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Sunday, December 3, 2006

My college football playoff solution

Let's be honest. Am I glad Florida's playing for the BCS national title? Absolutely. Do I think that they deserve it? Sure. Does Michigan deserve it, too? Well...yes and no. You'll see why I say that in a bit. But do I still think that the system is flawed?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

Let's be honest, kids...unless Ohio State wins this thing, everyone will always say, "Yeah, but..." when it comes to the 2006 college football season. And even if OSU wins (and especially if it's a blowout) people will say, "See? Michigan would have given them a better game, and maybe even won it -- the best two teams didn't play for the national title."

Well, what to do, then? Never one to complain without offering a solution when it comes to things like this, I have what I believe to be a workable solution. I've proposed this to several of the readers, but I've never put it on paper or in cyberspace. So without further ado...I present Brandon German's version of a I-A college football playoff.

First things first... there has to be an overhaul of what we really call Division I-A football. Let's be honest...does anyone expect North Texas to win the national title? Florida International? Idaho? Utah State? There are some teams that need to be told, gently but firmly, "Maybe you'd be better off in I-AA." The reason most of these teams are in I-A are to get big payday games for their athletic departments (that they almost always get blown out in) and just maybe to get into something like the New Orleans Bowl. In my system, everyone involved is going to get a shot at the national title, but it stands to reason that there are a few teams that aren't going to have a chance no matter what. And to those teams, we say, sayonara. So the current roster of 119 Division I-A teams needs to be trimmed to...oh, let's say 96. In my mind, I cut the entire Sun Belt, keep the top 4 teams from the WAC, then cut 10 from the teams comprising Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference. (I keep Army and Navy out of tradition alone - your mileage may vary.) After moving a few teams around, you'd have eight conferences of twelve teams each.

Every team must be in a conference. Yep, that means you, Notre Dame. No more special treatment. No more building up resumes on beating up on the service academies and dregs like Stanford. Join the Big Ten (11? 12? No, that's already taken...whatever) like you should have done before, and earn your way in like everyone else.

You must win your conference to win the national title. This is my main beef against Michigan this year, but it was also my problem with Nebraska in 2001 and Oklahoma in 2003. In Nebraska's case, they didn't even win their division! If you can't even win your own conference, you shouldn't play for the national title. End of story.

Every conference must play a championship game. This simply ensures that there's a true champion in every conference. Yes, it also introduces the potential for an 8-3 team to beat an 11-0 team and claim the title, but that's possible now anyway.

Take your eight conference champions, seed them 1-8, and have a playoff. Not much more need be said, other than you can use whatever means you want to seed the teams (even the old BCS one if you want). Play the games at the big bowl sites if you want -- or at the high seed's place, but the teams (or their respective conferences) split the gate. Title game location can be moved around.

Think about what else this gives you. The naysayers who say a playoff cheapens the regular season? You'd better win enough conference games in your regular season to make it to your championship game, or no playoff for you. So the regular season still holds a lot of meaning. But at the same time, you have the chance to play some games that everyone would much rather see than playing East Popcorn State. How about renewing the Alabama - Penn State games of the 80's? You got it. Wanna see Ohio State - Texas regularly, not just in a two-game series? I would. What about a USC - Miami series, where every game is played in sunny, 78-degree weather? The possibilities are endless. And you wouldn't have to worry about the traditional powers playing cupcakes - remember, as long you win your conference, you go to the playoff, so these games won't hurt your chances of getting in. But they're infinitely more entertaining than watching your favorite football powerhouse blow out West Central Podunk Tech 56-3.

I know that this plan will never happen, but that's OK. I hope that one of these days the people in charge will come up with something to replace what we've got right now, though. While I'm happy with how everything turned out tonight, I know that there are people who are equally unhappy, and it shouldn't have to come to that. There should be a way to settle it on the field.

I'm just saying...

The other time a team I follow in college football was celebrating its 100th year of football, it went into a national championship game against an opponent every expert gave them no chance to beat. And then they beat them and won a national title.

I'm just sayin', is all...