Revisiting a modest proposal, or maybe we can have it all.

I’ve made little secret of the fact that I would prefer a playoff composed of (tweaked) conference champions or the plus one format that BCS Guru has proposed over the current BCS arrangement.  But, after pondering some of the comments in response to this post of mine from yesterday, it occurs to me that conference expansion may provide an opportunity to create the greatest postseason EVAH… by combining the two.

You know, kinda like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Laugh, call me crazy, whatever.  Just follow me here for a minute to see how it would work.

  1. Start with four sixteen-team superconferences. I’ll leave it for others to game out the journey; I’m only interested in the ultimate destination.  Four conferences broken into two divisions with a conference championship is where we’re at with this.
  2. Have all 64 schools in the power conferences play a 7-3-2 scheduling format. That is, a school plays all seven schools in its division, three in the other division and two non-conference opponents of the school’s choice.
  3. No matter what, all eight division winners qualify for a BCS game appearance. That part’s automatic, but there are a couple of wrinkles to come.
  4. The week after the conference championship games are played, the national semifinal games take place. Here’s where BCS Guru’s plus one format kicks in.  The two conference champs with the highest BCS rankings host the other two schools.  There’s your first incentive to win the nonconference games.  And, again, the losing schools automatically qualify to play in a BCS game.
  5. Enter Bowl Season – with a wrinkle. Now it’s time to play the bowls, just like always.  But let’s add another incentive into the mix.  An awful lot of lip service is paid to the proposition that the bowls are a great experience for the kids that they shouldn’t be deprived of.  Fine – let’s take that one step further by letting the players on the automatic qualifiers for the BCS games choose which bowl game they’d like to play in.  Let the national semifinal losers have the first picks, then let the other four schools cast ballots for their choices and use the BCS rankings to break any ties in the event that too many choose the same venue.  The final open slots would be chosen by the respective bowls, with the caveat that no team with a BCS ranking lower than fifteen can be selected.  (Call that the Notre Dame Rule.)  Tell me you wouldn’t watch the Bowl Selection Show.
  6. Play the National Championship Game. And tell Joe Barton to shove his bill… well, you know where.
  7. Lather, rinse, repeat. Can we all just get along now?

Seriously, what’s missing?  You get a playoff.  You have an objective determination as to which schools participate.  You preserve just enough subjectivity in the system to keep every regular season game meaningful.  You maintain the bowls and the importance of the regular season, so the money would still be there.  And you even toss in a dash of empowerment for the student athletes, which seems to me to be the least you could do for them.

Now that’s unique.  Feel free to pick this apart in the comments.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

21 responses to “Revisiting a modest proposal, or maybe we can have it all.

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    Mr. Gambini, that is a lucid, intelligent, well thought out proposal.



  2. GumpDawg

    I like it Senator but everything after premis #1 is a pipe dream. I guess I am extremely skeptical of all this ‘super’-conference talk.


  3. GumpDawg

    oops, “premise”


  4. Tom

    re: #5 – dibs on the Rose Bowl!


  5. GumpDawg

    With the $$ windfall the SEC landed just so recently, do you believe that they honestly think they must expand in order to ‘compete’ with the actions of other conferences to catch-up – should these other conferences begin to align into 16 team super-conferences? Couldn’t the argument be made this could only water down the SEC or mess with a good thing?
    Maybe you do, I don’t know or have any clue, I only know I like the SEC model as is.


  6. In terms of being realistically feasible, there’s a looooong road to even get to #1. In all the talk about expansion, the only things that the Big10 and Pac10 are focusing on is getting to 12 members – nobody’s thinking about taking it to 14 or even 16. Would it be an avalanche of change and conference musical chairs if one of the BCS leagues decided to go for 16? Most definitely. It’d change the landscape of the sport more than the original BCS did. But I just don’t see that one little snowball that can get the whole thing rolling. The closest thing might be Texas defecting from the Big12, but that possibility is minuscule at best.

    There’s a big catch-22 here: if they’re going to expand, the BCS boys want teams that can make their conference stronger – but all the teams that can make them stronger are already in good positions in BCS conferences. Especially when you’re talking about adding 4 more teams, or 33% more, to each BCS conference. Sure there’d be poaching of the weaker positioned conferences, but does anybody really want Iowa State or Rutgers?

    The last time we saw a big switch was six year ago when Miami, VT, and then BC jumped to the ACC. There’s no more big fish like that who are worth grabbing/would be willing to be grabbed.


    • Just to be clear, Ed, I don’t think this is likely to happen any time soon. But I do think that if serious expansion strikes, the Big XII and the Big East aren’t structured to survive it. That’s where some of the expansion will come from.


      • Yeah, I agree – if the Big10 & Pac10 go to 12, the BigEast is toast. I think the Big12 is a little more solid though, and though they’d be “next in line” if consolidation kept going, I think they’re strong enough to hold the whole things together. For a least a while longer…


  7. Intriguing, and similar to something I read yesterday from SI. I still like my plan!
    Coleman Playoff System (CPS)


  8. This appears fair.

    #5 All that control for the administrators and bowls flies out the window, huh? I assume the logical extension of this thought is to normalize the bowl payouts.

    It’s as good as any.

    The “tweaking” of the conferences is the issue no plan can get past, IMO. I don’t care if it is 4 conferences of 16, or 6 of 12. The biggest, most pressing task required to bring order to chaos is trimming the fat.

    Div-1, or FBS, has got to be re-classified. No school is going to agree to dropping a level. My answer is simply raise the top programs a level.

    Leave LaTech in the FBS, elevate LSU to the newly formed “Premiere” Division.

    If we can get a manageable number of teams. Logic and reason can dictate the conclusion.

    I pray they do something before electoral and congressional maps come into play. If you not what I mean.


    • 69Dawg

      Hey I like your idea. Using the Premier League title why not use the English (I believe it’s them) system and put the lowest teams in the Premier League on the bubble. Let the champion of the FBS or maybe the top 5 in the FBS
      come up and bump the last place Premier Teams down for the following season. This would absolutely drive the Premier teams crazy.

      This plan has as much of a chance to be adopted as a snowflake in you know where.


  9. Phocion

    Your Super Four might look like this…(geographically)

    SOUTH – Miami, Florida, FSU, UGa, GTech, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi, MSU, LSU, Tennessee, Vandy, Kentucky, So Car., Clemson, VTech.

    NORTH – BC, UConn, Duke, Pitt, Penn State, WVU, Virginia, Maryland, UNC, NCState, Ohio State, Michigan, MSU, Cincy, Notre Dame, Indiana.

    CENTRAL – Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Texch, TCU, Oklahoma, OSU, Kansas, KSU, Nebraska, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota.

    WEST – Arizona, ASU, UCLA, USC, Fresno State, Cal, Stanford, Oregon, OSU, Washington, WSU, Boise State, Utah, BYU, Air Force, Colorado.

    There is quite an obvious imbalance of power between the conferences. The South is by far the strongest; the North and Central have limited depth; and the West has one traditional elite team followed by a whole bunch of mediocre.

    Assuming this works for football, you have completely dismantled the two best basketball conferences in the country. Is this to be a football only thing?


    • It’s kind of silly in a way to talk about realism in an exercise like this, but if a shakeup on the order of magnitude that I’m posting about were to occur, I think it’s most likely to happen in the context of four BCS conferences adding on to their existing structures: ACC, Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC. Those four will absorb some of the schools from the Big East, the Big XII, the three members of the MWC that are attractive financially and Notre Dame.

      You’ll see an nod towards geographics within a conference division, but I don’t believe they’ll care as much as you think they might about that, as long as the money’s right.


      • Phocion

        “You’ll see an nod towards geographics within a conference division, but I don’t believe they’ll care as much as you think they might about that, as long as the money’s right.”

        If this were a true statement then Texas’ reply to the Big Ten should be “Yes, yes, yes”

        I think that geography will play a larger role then you think…

        And, I think keeping the ACC as a base for a conference presents too many balance of power problems…

        SEC + Texas, TAMU, TT, TCU.

        ACC + Pitt, UConn, WVU, Cincy.

        BigTen + Notre Dame, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma

        Pac10 + Utah, BYU, Boise, Fresno, Colorado, Ok. State

        The ACC is most assuredly the weakest…and there still isn’t a logical way to add a top tier quality team to the West.


        • You’re more focused on the competition aspect of this than the financial aspect. The money is going to run the show if this ever comes down.

          And why should Texas say yes to the Big Ten without seeing what other options are out there?


          • Phocion

            If the competition aspect isn’t correct then the money won’t be there.

            And, contrary to popular(ism) belief, money doesn’t run everything.

            DO people marry the richest person they can? Do they always take the job offer that pays the most money?

            Conversely…do they drive the least expensive car that fits their requirements? Do they buy the least expensive house that is available?

            Nope, in all of those decisions there are other intangible factors that go into the decision process and that often times out weight the money aspect in importance. And, for Texas, choosing to leave the BigXII is going to be like choosing to leave their neighborhood. Sure, they can afford to move to a nicer one, but they don’t know anyone there…the commute to work will be a greater pain…and the weather stinks. On the other hand, in their current neighborhood they are the most popular house, teh commute is a breeze, and the weather is great…they hardly ever have to wear anything more than a light sweater to work. Besides, the houses are just fine in their community and some are even undergoing so major upgrades.


  10. Cojones

    I think you should keep trying to come up with a plan, but this one won’t fly for several reasons.

    1. The Bowls are commercially run and will not put two teams with distance into their local bowl.(Would you allow Georgia and Miami to play in your Rose Bowl? Would you let USC(w) and Utah to match up in the Orange Bowl? ) Perhaps one team can pick a venue, but both at great distance wouldn’t fill the stands. Nor would locals be that carried away with an east or west coast team that they could care less about each year. The Chambers of Commerce in Miami and Pasadena would go berserk, along with Atlanta, Tempe, New Orleans, etc..

    2. You still have sports writers and pundits sauceing the chili with their indigestible rankings. Same with the coaches (and if you don’t believe it, then look at the last rankings of the year published for the last couple of years and you see Big-10 coaches placing SEC teams low while placing their conference’s teams high. Two years ago UGA was ranked from 4-16in the last poll, dependant upon the conference and coach voting. Ohio St consistently votes UGA low.)

    3. Inequities exist all over the place with this scheme, but they are hard to see because we are viewing them with SEC glasses. Put your glasses on while standing at Rutgers, Arizona St, New Mexico, Boise and other schools. They want a nip at the pie, also. What if UGA, FU, Bama, LSU and Aub. have 11-1 records? It would be worse than the way it is now and this ain’t so hot.

    A playoff with 16 teams at the BCS top appears to be the best even though it is shot through with inequities. Seed these teams in the top 8 bowls (Florida would end up with most games played in their state)The Bowls would probably welcome more than one game played since that is more money for their local commerce. The top 8 winners meet in the top bowls again (Orange, Sugar, Rose , Fiesta). This way the local teams/bowls would accomplish their ticket sales and end up with more gravy to boot. It’s possible with the seeding to end up with SEC vs SEC for the NC. The final game would be played in the stadium of the same rotation used now. The penultimate two games could be a new venue like The Coliseum, Neyland and/or Michigan(the largest seating stadiums on east and west coasts).


    • 1. Eh… I’m not so sure you’re correct here. Ohio State played Oregon in the Rose Bowl this year. That’s not exactly a trip around the corner for either school, yet the place was sold out. Distance isn’t nearly as big an issue as fan enthusiasm.

      2. All the rankings would do would be to play into who hosts the semifinals. You still have to win your conference to get there.

      3. I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. It really doesn’t matter how many conference teams have identical records; it matters which one of them wins the conference championship game. If you want a “nip at the pie”, there’s one way to do it and everyone has the same opportunity.

      Your optimal playoff format basically destroys the need for conferences. Not good.


  11. Good plan.
    Some national writers have said recently that conference expansion/championship games will kill a playoff. I believe the opposite is true. Expansion of the Big10/Pac10 will grease the skids for something like your plan.
    Demand will be supplied.