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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Need to Know

Solid Proposal for Non-Playoff Bowl Games

Later this month, in Hollywood, Fla., the B.C.S. will discuss the merits of four postseason proposals, including one that would maintain but slightly tweak the current B.C.S. system. Another, as noted yesterday afternoon, would feature a two-bowl, four-team playoff system that may still include the Rose Bowl, should the Big Ten or Pac-12 champion – or both – finish among the top four teams in the country. Those two options have dominated the national discussion, if only because each seems, in some shape or form, like a continuation of the current postseason system. Due to the negative reaction, a fairly positive and very interesting postseason proposal up for consideration with the B.C.S. leaders has been overlooked.

According to a two-page outline created by the B.C.S., officials will weigh the possibility of drastically altering the current bowl system – not with a plus-one playoff, but with the way the F.B.S. schedules and pairs teams in current non-B.C.S. bowls.

It lies under the header titled “Enhancing the Bowl Experience With Additional Adjustments to the Postseason.” Per the outline, the B.C.S. leaders are “considering ways to enhance the bowl experience for student-athletes and fans and to improve the postseason generally.” The proposal is contingent upon the approval of a new postseason plan; it would not be considered for approval if the current B.C.S. system is continued, even if officials tweak a few of the B.C.S. bowl parameters.

In essence, B.C.S. officials would consider the creation of a 10-, 12- or 20-team postseason event. The goal would be to create top-tier bowl games from the teams not included among the four-team playoff “with the aim of providing the most evenly matched and attractive games that make geographic sense for the participants.”

The games would be chosen by committee, not by conference affiliation. Under this proposal, instead of taking the top team in the Mountain West and the sixth team out of the Pac-12, the Las Vegas Bowl might feature two teams ranked among the top 10 teams in the country. Instead of being beholden to the Big 12 and the SEC, the Cotton Bowl might always be in line for a bowl game pitting the top two seeds not included in the four-team playoff.

One note about the proposal: While the outline calls it a “12-team event,” such a scenario would actually be an eight-team event; you need to subtract the four teams involved in the playoff, which the B.C.S. includes among the 12-team total. Likewise for the “20-team event,” which would actually involve 16 top teams not included in the playoff.

Outside of the “true” plus-one – the option that doesn’t include any dispensation for the Rose Bowl – this potential tweak to the current non-B.C.S. bowl system is the best proposal found in the B.C.S. outline. While there would still be a number of painfully unwatchable bowl games, creating an “upper tier” of bowl games might ensure that the traditional bowl system doesn’t get lost in the shuffle with the adoption of a playoff system.

Consider how this year’s postseason might have looked under this arrangement. L.S.U., Alabama, Oklahoma State and Stanford would have met in the four-team playoff. The committee in charge of the 16-team bowl “event” would have its pick of a who’s-who of college football elite: Oregon, Arkansas, Georgia, Boise State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Oklahoma, just to name a few.

Better yet, this committee could have created the best games possible, restricted only by what the B.C.S. terms “geographic sense.” Oklahoma could have played Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, the former B.C.S. bowl now open for non-B.C.S. business. Arkansas could have met Michigan in the Outback Bowl. Robert Griffin III and Baylor could have taken aim at Georgia.

There’s great potential in this proposal. The only way that college football presidents, athletic directors and officials can “protect the sanctity” of its fairly antiquated bowl system is to inject some potency into the non-playoff postseason games. One way to do that is to call it an “event,” then actually make it an event – by having the best of the rest meet the best of the rest.

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  1. [...] next version of the D-1 football postseason is getting a lot of favorable attention.  Here’s Paul Myerberg’s take: In essence, B.C.S. officials would consider the creation of a 10-, 12- or 20-team postseason [...]

  2. Hokieshibe says:

    That’d be pretty sweet, actually. Bowls get kind of tiring when they always match up the same conferences. It also might help break the SEC-Big10 stranglehold on New Years day…

  3. GTWrek says:

    I forsee the Big10 being the big loser if this 16 team event takes place. I see them losing a lot of spots in those 1/1 Florida bowl games. Hope it happens though.

  4. Parker says:

    Hi Paul –

    There should be 5 BCS bowls with traditional bowl ties for the SEC, Pac 10, Big 10 and Big 12. The higher rated champ from the ACC or Big East gets the Orange Bowl. The other gets treated as an at-large team. Any other conference champ ranked in the Top 10 gets an at-large bid. The rest are selected by a committee, who then seeds all the at-large teams into the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta and Cotton.

    Then the top 4 ranked winners coming out of the 5 BCS bowls should play it off. Semifinals on home fields. Title game the weekend the NFL takes off.

    This preserves:

    1. The Bowl system. Makes the bowl games meaningful.
    2. Controversy. Who gets an at-large? Which of the 5 BCS bowl winners gets left out of the semifinals?

    Plus, the season is extended for only 4 schools.

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