The Best College Football Playoff System Ever Designed
This article is part II to an article I wrote a year ago about the most sensible way to align the teams in Division I college football to allow for a workable format for a playoff system.
In this article, not only do I show you the way the conference can be broken up with regional sense but I also walk you through how the conference championship games would look, how the playoff brackets would be set and how the bowl games can still be played in conjunction with this system. In addition, I lay out the dates that each event could take place and show how it can all be worked into the same amount of time that is currently being allotted for the current BCS system.
Just as a reference point, I am posting my suggestion for conference alignments once again as I will need to point back to it in explaining the other aspects of the plan. You will notice that the alignments have a regional feel and quality to it. You will also notice that I do not lump all the mid-tier teams into a conference together. The mid-tier teams are mixed in amongst others. Those programs’ desires to obtain a championship will promote parity.
Each team each year would play every team in their division once and then matchup against a division from another conference for their remaining games. For example. In 2011 the Southern Conference East Division would play all the teams from Southwest Conference West Division for their non-conference games. This would be rotated each year and no conference division would play the other division within their own conference. So, in no given year would the Eastern Division of the Southern Conference play the teams in the Western Division Southern Conference for their non-divisional games.
Your overall record would be used to determine division winners with record within the division to be used as tiebreakers.
In this plan, every team plays 11 regular season games.
|East Region||West Region|
|Southern Conference||Southwest Conference|
|UCF||Troy St.||Rice||N. Texas|
|Southeast Conference||Mid-American Conference|
|Miss. St.||Ole Miss.||Notre Dame||Missouri|
|S. Miss.||Tulane||Ball St.||Miami Ohio|
|Mid. Ten. St.||Lou. Monroe||Bowling Green||Marshall|
|Northeastern Conference||Midwestern Conference|
|Penn St.||Ohio St.||Oklahoma||Nebraska|
|Boston College||U.Conn||Oklahoma St.||Arkansas|
|Navy||Rutgers||Colorado St.||Kansas St.|
|Buffalo||Kent. St.||Air Force||Idaho|
|Mideastern Conference||Mountain West Conference|
|Virginia Tech||North Carolina||Texas Tech||Boise St.|
|West Virginia||NC State||Arizona St.||Utah|
|Kentucky||East Carolina||New Mexico||Utah St.|
|W. Kentucky||Duke||New Mexico St.||Utep|
|Northern Lakes Conference||Western Conference|
|Minnesota||Michigan St.||Oregon St.||Stanford|
|W. Michigan||Eastern Michigan||Washington St.||UCLA|
|C. Michigan||N. Illinois||San Jose St.||Hawaii|
|Akron||Ohio||Fresno St.||San Diego St.|
Below I have used the strength and records of the teams during the 2011 season to construct a hypothetical set of conference championship games to demonstrate how the system would work. Every conference would have a championship game pitting the teams with the best records from each division against each other. See what that would look like below.
Conference Championship Games
|Conference Championship Games|
|N23||Southern Conference||Florida St.||Alabama||Alabama|
|N23||Southeast Conference||Auburn||South Carolina||South carolina|
|N24||Northeastern Conference||Penn St.||Ohio St.||Penn St.|
|N24||Mideastern Conference||Virginia Tech||NC State||Virginia Tech|
|N24||Northern Lakes Conference||Wisconsin||Michigan||Wisconsin|
|N23||Mid-American Conference||Notre Dame||Missouri||Notre Dame|
|N24||Midwestern Conference||Oklahoma St.||Arkansas||Oklahoma St.|
|N24||Mountain West Conerence||Arizona St.||Boise St.||Boise St.|
Now that we know who are playoff teams are after the conference championships, we can now begin filling our bowl games with their match ups. In my system, bowl match ups are predetermined by the place in which teams finished within their respective conferences. So, for instance, the Humanitarian Bowl each year would host the Southern Conference East Division 3rd place finisher against the Southwest Conference East Division 3rd place finisher. Under the heading “Conference Matchup” you will see abbreviations. This was done to preserve space. However, the abbreviations are for the conferences with divisions and the numbers stand for the place in which team finished. So SECE-2 would stand for Southeast Conference East Division 2nd place finisher. Moving further down the bowl list NECrun would stand for the Northeast Conference runner-up which would be the team that lost the conference championship game. In the bigger bowl games like the Cotton Bowl for example, you see ERDL1 v. WRDL1. This provides for losers of the playoff games to play in bowl games. So ERDL1 would mean East Region Round 1 loser v. WRDL1 West Region round 1 loser.
Bowl Game Matchups
|date||Bowl Games||Conference Matchup||Hypothetical 2011 matchups|
|1||D11||Humanitarian||SCE-3 v. SWCE-3||Miami||TCU|
|2||D11||New Orleans||SCW-3 v. SWCW-3||Florida||Texas A&M|
|3||D11||St. Petersburg||SECE-3 v. MACE-3||Mississippi St.||Purdue|
|4||D12||Las Vegas||SECW-3 v. MACW-3||Vanderbilt||Pittsburgh|
|5||D12||Poinsettia Bowl||NECE-3 v. MWCE-3||Syracuse||Tulsa|
|6||D13||Hawaii Bowl||NECW-3 v. MWCW-3||Rutgers||Nebraska|
|7||D13||Little Caesars Bowl||MECE-3 v. MWCE-3||Virginia||Arizona|
|8||D13||Independence Bowl||MECW-3 v. MWCW-3||Wake Forest||Utah|
|9||D14||Champs Sports||NLCE-3 v. WCE-3||Western Michigan||Washington St.|
|11||D14||Insight||NLCW-3 v. WCW-3||N. Illinois||California|
|12||D18||Military Bowl||SCE-2 v. SWCE-2||Georgia Tech||Baylor|
|13||D18||Texas Bowl||SCW-2 v. SWCW-2||Georgia||Houston|
|14||D18||Alamo Bowl||SECE-2 v. MACE-2||Southern Miss.||Iowa|
|15||D19||Armed Forces Bowl||SECW-2 v. MACW-2||Clemson||Illinois|
|16||D19||Music City Bowl||NECE-2 v. MWCE-2||Boston College||Oklahoma|
|17||D20||Holiday Bowl||NECW-2 v. MWCW-2||Cincinnati||Kansas St.|
|18||D20||Car Care Bowl||MECE-2 v. MWCE-2||West Virginia||Texas Tech|
|19||D20||Sun Bowl||MECW-2 v. MWCW-2||North Carolina||BYU|
|20||D21||Liberty Bowl||NLCE-2 v. WCE-2||Toledo||Washington|
|21||D21||Chick-fil-A Bowl||NLCW-2 v. WCW-2||Michigan St.||USC|
|22||D27||Outback Bowl||SECrun v. MACrun||Florida St.||Texas|
|23||D28||Capital One Bowl||NECrun v. MWCrun||Ohio St.||Missouri|
|24||D29||Gator Bowl||MECrun v. MtWCrun||NC State||Arizona St.|
|25||J1||Compass Bowl||ERD1L v. WRD1L||Penn St.||Notre Dame|
|26||J1||Cotton Bowl||ERDL1 v. WRD1L||Michigan||Stanford|
|27||J1||Rose Bowl||ERD1L v. WRD1L||Auburn||Arkansas|
|28||J2||Fiesta Bowl||ERD2L v. WRD2L||South Carolina||Boise St.|
|29||J3||Orange Bowl||ERD2L v. WRD2L||Virginia Tech||Oregon|
|30||J4||Sugar Bowl||ERD3L v. WRD3L||Wisconsin||Oklahoma St.|
|31||J8||National Championship||ERD3W v. WRD3W||Alabama||LSU|
Now that we have that out of the way, we can take a look at what the playoff brackets look like. In this proposed system you have a 14 team playoff. You get your Top 10 teams from the conference championship games and you also get two wildcard teams from the East Region along with two wildcard teams from the West Region. You select those wildcard teams as the two highest ranked teams in East Region that lost their championship games. If you end up with situation where you don’t have ranked conference losers than you set up some parameters for selection and tiebreaker to take the two next best teams from each region that weren’t champions. The majority of the time you will end up with ranked teams that lost championship games.
The highest ranked team in the East Region and the West Region would get first round byes while everyone else would play week one. From there you carry through the normal course of a bracket playoff system and illustrated below. The notations at the top with a letter and number stand for the date in which the games would take place. So D15 stands for Dccember 15th.
|Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Championship|
|South Carolina||South Carolina|
|Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech|
|Boise St.||Boise St.|
|Oklahoma St.||Oklahoma St.|
In the end, each team plays 11 regular season games. The two teams that play in the championship game would have either played 14 or 15 games at the end of the season. You have teams now playing 13 and 14 games in a season. So there’s no extra wear and tear to worry about.
I will continue to expand on this as questions and comments are received about the workings of this system. This system makes the most sense to me. By all means, share your thoughts.