2003 NCAA Football Playoff Proposal

You will notice that I have revised the 16-team playoff format that I created four years ago. Under my previous proposal, conference championship games were to be eliminated and replaced with a first round of playoff games in which the winners would advance to bowl games on New Year’s Day. Now that conference championship games are here to stay, I felt that it was necessary to adjust my playoff format to include the conference championships in the process. Here are the rules:

  • 8-team tournament
  • The quarterfinal games will be comprised of the four current BCS Bowls - Sugar, Rose, Orange and Fiesta.
  • The champions from the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac Ten will be given automatic bids to the tournament. For the ACC, SEC and Big 12, this will be the winner of their conference's championship game.
  • The highest ranking champion (based on the BCS) among the Big East, MAC, WAC, Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference will be guaranteed a spot in the tournament.
  • The two remaining spots in the tournament will be filled on an at-large basis by an impartial selection committee. In order to qualify for an at-large spot, a team must be in the top 12 in the BCS. All Division 1-A teams will be eligible for the at-large spots.
  • No conference can have more than two teams in the tournament. Put another way, the conferences that received automatic bids cannot take both at-large spots.
  • The committee will then seed the teams from 1 to 8. Seeds will then be swapped, if necessary, to avoid first round matchups between teams from the same conference. For example, if the committee originally seeded Oklahoma 3rd and Texas 6th (3 plays 6 in the first round), then Texas would be moved to the 7th seed.
  • In order to preserve some of the bowl tradition, the committee will guarantee that the highest ranking team among the Pac Ten and Big Ten Champion will go to the Rose Bowl. The committee will also make an effort to send the SEC Champion to the Sugar Bowl. This will not always be possible.
  • In the second round, the winner of the 1 vs 8 game will play the winner of the 4 vs 5 game and the winner of 2 vs 7 will play the winner of 3 vs 6. The semifinal and championship games will be given new bowl names.
  • Like the Superbowl, the sites of the semi-final and championship games will rotate. The two semi-final games will not be played in the same city.
  • Every team will play only 11 regular season games (this would maximize a team's game total at 16 including a conference title game).
  • All other bowls will be played as usual.

Here's how 2003-2004 would shake out if I were the committee:

Fri Jan 1st 4:30 pm - Rose Bowl - #1 USC (Pac Ten) vs #8 Kansas St (Big 12)
Fri Jan 1st 8:30 pm - Orange Bowl - #4 Michigan (Big Ten) vs #5 Tennessee (at large)
Sat Jan 2nd 8:00 pm - Fiesta Bowl - #3 Oklahoma (at large) vs #6 Miami FL (Big East)
Mon Jan 4th 8:00 pm - Sugar Bowl - #2 LSU (SEC) vs #7 Florida St (ACC)
* Automatic Bid

SEMI-FINALS - Saturday Jan 17th
Game One - 4:00 pm
Game Two - 8:00 pm

CHAMPIONSHIP - Saturday Jan 24th (Superbowl off week)
Championship Game - 6:00 pm

2002 Playoff Proposal
2001 Playoff Proposal
2000 Playoff Proposal