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What Should Be The College Football Playoff Format?

Avinash: How do people feel about this compromise plan, courtesy of Brian Cook:

MGOBLOG PLAYOFF PLAN: Six teams, no autobids, byes to the top two teams. No more than two teams per conference, and those teams can't play each other in the first round. Home games until the final, one the week after the championship games, one on January 1st, final at the Rose Bowl January 8th, leave bowl system alone.

This preserves almost all of the urgency of regular season and guarantees that the champion is also the team with the best season-long resume since five of the top six lose and anyone not 1 or 2 wades through three elite opponents, staking an undeniable claim.

This year's hypothetical bracket:

1. Oregon vs winner of 3. TCU / 6. Ohio State
2. Auburn vs winner of 4. Wisconsin / 5. Stanford

If Auburn had lost to Alabama they would probably have fallen to fifth (ballparking it) and gone from a first round bye and January 1 home game to a first round game in Madison or Palo Alto—a freaking huge deal. Losing one game boots Boise and Michigan State, and two is fatal for everyone. Since the current system frequently sees one-loss teams into the championship game it's difficult to argue this system cheapens the regular season.

Berkelium97: I assume this means no more BCS bowls, so the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange bowls are all gone?

It seems like an adequate way to determine the national champion, but I'd rather have the traditional BCS bowls.

Avinash: I wouldn't presume the bowls just disappear--the Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and Rose all have longstanding traditions. They'd just be relegated to the status of the rest of the bowls like the Cotton, the Capital One and the Holiday. So I'd say the bowl system becomes our NIT (with Orange/Fiesta/Sugar/Rose having the plum matchups while we eliminate several of the extraneous bowls) and the playoff becomes our NCAA tournament, for the lack of a better analogy.

Berkelium97: It seems like it would reduce the prestige of those bowls, since the best teams would be playing in the tournament.

Avinash: The prestige of most of these bowls is pretty much diminished ever since the BCS National Championship game was instituted. Until then, most of the bowls (Cotton, Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange) all had some meaning.

Now it's only one game and two teams, and in most seasons you could make the case that teams like TCU (or TCU/Boise last year) deserve their shot to prove themselves as well.

Also, billionaire Mark Cuban's throwing his hat in the ring to try and reform the BCS process. Not exactly sure how much of a chance this has, but Cuban does have money, so you'd figure he'd have influence (as a playoff proponent, I'm rooting like hell for him to make traction). Here's his preliminary proposal.

Cuban said he has talked to two athletic directors from BCS conferences who were extremely enthusiastic about the idea. He intends to contact several school presidents and state senators in the coming weeks to determine whether the idea is worth pursuing.

Cuban said he envisions either a 12- or 16-team playoff field with the higher seeds getting homefield advantage. The homefield advantage, Cuban said, would ensure the college football regular-season games would not lose any importance.

The bowl games could still exist under Cuban's plan, but he said he would make it more profitable for programs to make the playoffs than a bowl.

"Put $500 million in the bank and go to all the schools and pay them money as an option," Cuban said. "Say, 'Look, I'm going to give you X amount every five years. In exchange, you say if you're picked for the playoff system, you'll go.' "

One way to push school presidents toward approving the idea would be to lobby major donors of college athletic programs, Cuban said. He suggested convincing the donors to cut off their donations until their presidents approved a playoff system.

Cuban, who is reading the book "Death to the BCS," said he thinks it would take about three or four years of planning before enacting the playoff system. He believes it's a better business opportunity than owning a baseball team, and he admits he's intrigued by the idea of revolutionizing a major sport.

"It's an inefficient business where there's obviously a better way of doing it," Cuban said. "The only thing that's kept them from doing it is a lack of capital, which I can deal with.

I think 12 teams is probably the maximum (four teams get first round byes?). If I understand it correctly, the losers would still end up in bowl games--that is the further in the process you lose, the better bowl you get.

So we'd end up with.

8 teams (my preference)

First round
1 vs 8
2 vs 7
3 vs 6
4 vs 5

highest vs lowest
middle two teams

Finals: Title game at neutral site

Lowest ranked teams that lost in the quarterfinals: Fiesta Bowl
Highest ranked teams that lost in the quarterfinals: Sugar Bowl
Semifinals losers (Third place game): Rose Bowl (another possibility is they rotate sites and teams get picked based on conference affiliation)

12 teams (most likely of Cuban's preferences to gain traction)
1, 2, 3, 4 first round byes

First round
5 vs 12
6 vs 11
7 vs 10
8 vs 9

Second round
1 vs lowest seed
2 vs second lowest seed
3 vs third lowest seed
4 vs fourth lowest seed

highest seed vs lowest seed
middle seeds

Consolation bowls
First round losers: Cotton and Fiesta Bowl
Second round losers: Sugar and Orange
"Third place game": Rose

Finals: Title game at neutral site

What do you guys think about all of this?

Kodiak: As a college football fan, it's intriguing and I think it could be a fun system. Cuban is right in that the only way to get the ball rolling is to appeal to greed. I doubt that any major donors will be willing to cut off their school, however. There's too much of an attitude of "I gotta get mine." He probably has a better chance of lobbying the major television networks and getting them to lean on the school and conference officials. An eight team playoff may be too ambitious to start, however. The "And One" system where you keep the major BCS bowls and have the two winners play one more game seems more feasible to my admittedly completely-ignorant thinking.

As a Cal fan, it makes it more difficult for us to reach the Rose Bowl, so I object! I gotta get mine. Give me my Rose Bowl so I can see Joe Kapp pounding tequila and legions of Cal fans young and old alike can go frolicking down the streets of Pasadena.

norcalnick: Am I the only Cal fan that doesn't necessarily care a great deal about the Rose Bowl itself? I mean, I'd love to watch Cal play there, but for me the goal is winning the Pac-10, and the Rose Bowl is kinda incidental to that goal. It's a great prize, but ultimately winning the conference is a prize in and of itself.

Avinash: Nick, while I agree whole-heartedly with your statement, I think you're going to find yourself on a deserted island for trying to be rational in the face of an irrational cause.