Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mike Leach And Dan Shanoff Agree:
Super-Size a College Football Playoff

Posted this years ago. Worth re-publishing, after Mike Leach gained a little traction for "daring" to suggest that we put 64 teams in a college football playoff.

Short answer: He's not thinking big enough.

It's very simple: Create a half-season-long playoff that lets everyone in and therefore produces the most meaningful, least controversial champion. It's unrealistic, but only because the powers-that-be lack the imagination to see its genius:

(1) Increase the number of D1-A programs from 119 to 128.

(2) Play 5 regular season games: Your annual "tradition" games, your homecoming, your cupcakes, whatever. This also allows teams to find their stride.

(3) National Bye Week. Rank all 128 teams, using the same committee system that fans have come to accept for college basketball. Except this committee is NCAA officials, media and a few computer gurus. Place into four 32-team regional brackets.

(4) Play Week 6. Number of playoff teams remaining afterward: 64. Losers are eliminated and have 24 hours to cut deals to play each other in Week 7.

(5) Each week, the bracket advances along. Winning teams move on to the next game on their bracket. Losing teams are eliminated and may cut deals to play any other eliminated team the following week, creating an innovative, musical-chairs-style free market of scheduling that will also keep fans engaged.

After Week 7, 32 teams are left. After Week 8, 16 teams are left. After Week 9, 8 teams are left. After Week 10, 4 teams are left. After Week 11, 2 teams are left. (Again, eliminated teams simply pick from the increasingly deep pool of eliminated teams to fill out their schedule.)

(6) Teams that are over .500 are eligible to be selected to play in the 25 different bowl games played in December and early January; bowls may invite any teams they want, again creating a vastly more efficient market than the current system where a team is slotted to a bowl by its conference finish.

(7) The final 2 teams play in the championship game.

The biggest problem is that schools can't finalize their teams' travel or ticket sales plans a year in advance, as they do now. If that's the biggest problem -- but in exchange fans get the best championship tournament in sports and an undisputed champion -- I think fans will take it.

Everyone in, controversy out.

-- D.S.


Paulie3Sticks said...

Great idea! What do you think about relegating the last ranked teams at the end of each season as well?

Jason said...

Fans might object to not knowing if their team is playing a road or home game until the week before and can't make (affordable) travel plans accordingly. Also, the smaller schools will have no bargaining power, giving them no shot at more than 3 home games every season. The big schools will only want to play each other if there's nothing left to play for since that will give them the most ticket revenue and best shot at TV exposure. I'm afraid in this system the rich get richer even more than under the current rules.

Michael W said...

Considering schools now make out their schedules years in advance, what makes you think we would see a full slate of games on a week's notice?