Justice, Alabama, and the BCS: Part 2

Written December 6th, 2011 by Eric

This is the continuation of the article posted this morning looking at a solution to the current problems.

To the victors, the spoils.

Many people have spilled an incredible amount of ink over the years trying to determine a just system for selecting a national champion.  Our own Malibuckeye came up with his own system a while back and expounded upon it in length.  I honestly believe there is only one possible method of satisfactorily deciding a champion with all of the proper criteria. That answer is to allow the teams to decide it on the field in a playoff format. But, unlike with many other views, the playoff isn’t the critical factor. The biggest issue is to start to make the regular season important again.

The best way to determine who gets to play in the Division 1A Playoff, while simultaneously allowing fair access to all of the conferences, is to restrict access only to conference champions. Yes, you heard that right – conference champions only.

One of my biggest issues with Alabama being in the national championship game is that not only did they not win their conference, they didn’t even win their own division. I strongly believe that if you are not the best team in your conference, you should not be allowed to be considered the best team in the nation.

Currently there are 11 conferences, plus the independents, in Division 1A. Here are the rules for my playoff system.

  1. Conference Champions Only, as decided by each conference by their own tiebreaking rules, or by a conference championship game.
  2. Independent teams work out a system among themselves to choose the best independent team subject to NCAA approval. I’ll use “best record” for today, if only because it doesn’t require a poll and keeps Notre Dame out for this season.
  3. Polls are used only for seeding.
  4. Teams unranked in the polls will be seeded by current standing. Ties will be broken by wins over ranked opponents.
  5. Play-in and first round games are played at the home stadium of the team with the higher (closer to first) seed.
  6. Semi-final and Final games will rotate between BCS stadiums, with the previous year’s BCS championship location playing host to a standard invited bowl game.  This year the Fiesta Bowl would not participate in the playoff, but would instead select 2 at-large teams.  Payout would be standard for a BCS game.
  7. Top four teams get first round byes (subject to change depending on total number of conferences).
  8. Additional conferences yield expansion of tournament to include additional conference champions.

With those playoff rules, this year’s playoff would look like this:

There are a few things worth noting here.

  • Yes, we’re letting teams like Arkansas State and Lousiana Tech have a shot at the National Title.  They won their conferences, they get a chance.
  • Out of conference rematches are possible, but no rematches of conference games in the national tournament.
  • Only a conference champion can win the national championship (this is a big plus in my mind).
  • Teams like Wisconsin get an opportunity to play in their own back yard in mid-December, reducing the “warm weather advantage”.
  • The current bowl games still get to host a major game.  In this model, if the favorites win, the Rose Bowl would get LSU vs. Wisconsin, while the Orange Bowl would get Oklahoma State vs. Oregon.  You can’t tell me those aren’t enticing match-ups.
  • Houston would very likely have pushed Wisconsin into a first round game, and received a bye for Conference USA, if they had won their championship game with Southern Mississippi.

Hey, who invited you guys?

I will readily admit that letting teams like Lousiana Tech and Arkansas State into the playoff picture is counter-intuitive.  Everyone’s perspective on the playoffs is to try to create the most interesting matchups possible that will draw the most money.  I think that is the wrong mentality, particularly with the mid-majors constantly gnashing their teeth about getting a chance to break into the big money picture.  This way, everyone is given a fair shake towards earning a national title.

But what about teams like Alabama, Michigan State, Michigan, Stanford, and all of the other teams that had a great season but didn’t win their conference?  In this picture, the regular season actually matters.  You lost during the regular season to a conference opponent, you didn’t win your conference championship (or didn’t even win your division) you get to go to a regular bowl game.  If you want to cry about it, cry to your conference or cry about your team not getting the job done.

As for money and payouts, obviously the same system can’t pay 14 teams like it currently pays 10.  My preference would be that teams that make the Semi-final matchup pick up the “full-payment” BCS money, while the other 8 pick up the “second conference team” money.  Teams that make the National Championship get an additional bonus.  Obviously this requires more money than is currently allotted by the BCS games, but you’re also playing more games with more teams.  It should balance out reasonably well in the end.

This playoff picture is as all-inclusive as it can possibly be, and makes certain that every team has an opportunity to justly earn what they get on the field, as opposed to having it be granted to them by some nebulous group of voters that may or may not have an agenda at hand.


  1. j gerlachNo Gravatar
    December 6th, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    i believe you have a viable alternative to the situation.


    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 6th, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Which is why it will never come to pass…


  2. Anthony GrahamNo Gravatar
    December 6th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Putting teams in the playoffs that would surely lose is quite simply a dumb idea! It sure throws strength of schedule right out the window and is unfair to the stronger conferences. Teams like Louisiana Tech only played one ranked team all season. I kind of see what you got going here, but going to have to say boooooo!!!!!


  3. KenNo Gravatar
    December 6th, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Eric, I think you might be on to something with this, I do like the idea of restricting participants to Conference Champions (and an Indy). Interesting.

    Anthony, I see your point, but disagree; this is a one-and-done deal, “lesser” teams have been known to catch lightning in a bottle and spring an upset. Besides, 11 of the 12 teams will surely lose.


    Anthony GrahamNo Gravatar
    December 6th, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    One and done is good by me in the playoffs as long as the number 2 team in the nation will get his shot at it also. I see all sides though and all I can say is ROLL TIDE!!!!


    West Coast BuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 6th, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Is anyone shocked…..really? Anyone?


  4. AusmosNo Gravatar
    December 6th, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I would have an 8 team playoff. Qualification would be as follows:

    1. Conference champions ranked in the top 16 of BCS standings or AP poll
    2. If more than 8 conference champions are ranked in the top 16 (highly unlikely), the 8 highest ranked teams qualify
    3. If there are less than 8 conference champions ranked in the top 16, the remaining spots will be filled by the highest ranked non-conference champions

    The top 4 ranked conference champions would be seeded 1 through 4 and get to host 1st round games. The 5-8 seeds would be ranked based on BCS standings or AP poll regardless of whether conference champion or not. I would keep the limit of a maximum of 2 teams from any conference.

    The top 4 seeds would host 1st round games. The winners would play in 2 of the current BCS bowls and the losers would play each other in the other 2 BCS bowls. The championship game would rotate to various stadiums.

    This years first round matchups would be: (8)Clemson @ (1)LSU, (7)Boise St @ (2)Oklahoma St, (6)Stanford @ (3) Oregon, (5)Alabama @ (4)Wisconsin.


  5. JohnNo Gravatar
    December 6th, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    RIP Joe Daniels and Brent Darby !


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