2009 NCAA Football Playoff Proposal

It's time again for my NCAA Football Playoff Proposal. When I put together my first NCAA playoff proposal in 1999, I really believed that college football was on the path to adopting a playoff system. I could not have been more wrong. The NCAA, the men in the funny-colored sportcoats adorned with their bowl's logo and the university presidents of the top dozen or so power football schools will never allow such a sensible thing as a Division 1-A college football playoff to take place. The groups who control college football are like activist judges. They make decisions that suit their own needs even though those decisions run contrary to the desires of 90% of the people involved and the spirit of college athletics. If college football was in fact like every other sports league on the planet (including all other NCAA football levels, beer league softball, The World Series of Poker and even the WNBA) the playoffs might look a little something like this:

  • 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 ranked 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. This year, that team is TCU. Better yet, I would like to see the two highest ranked champions from these five conferences play each other on the first Saturday in December on a neutral site to decide who goes to the playoffs.
  • 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. This year, Boise State and Cincinnati would be my at-large qualifiers.
  • 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 USC 1st and Oregon 8th (1 plays 8 in the first round), then Oregon would be moved to the 7th seed.
  • In order to preserve some of the bowl tradition, the committee will guarantee that the highest ranked team among the Pac Ten and Big Ten champions will go to the Rose Bowl. The committee will also make an effort to send the SEC Champion to the Sugar Bowl and to make the Rose Bowl a Pac Ten vs Big Ten matchup. 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 semifinal and championship games will rotate. The two semifinal games will not be played in the same city.
  • The NCAA semifinal games will be played the day before the NFL's AFC and NFC Championship games.
  • All other bowls will be played as usual.

Here's how the 2009-10 playoffs would shake out if I were the committee:

Because Ohio State and Oregon were seeded 7th and 8th in my original seedings and I couldn't justify moving either one higher than 6th, I could not set up the traditional Big Ten-Pac Ten Rose Bowl. Florida would clearly be seeded ahead of Georgia Tech, Oregon and Ohio State. However, Florida lost a game and Cincinnati and Boise State did not, so the Gators are out (this is why a 16-team tournament without bowls would be better).

Jan 1st Rose Bowl - #2 TCU (Mountain West) vs #7 Oregon (Pac Ten)
Jan 1st Sugar Bowl - #1 Alabama (SEC) vs #8 Ohio State (Big Ten)
Jan 4th Fiesta Bowl - #3 Texas (Big XII) vs #6 Georgia Tech (ACC)
Jan 5th Orange Bowl - #4 Cincinnati (at-large) vs #5 Alabama (at-large)

SEMI-FINALS - Saturday, January 23th
Game One - 3:30 pm
Game Two - 8:00 pm

CHAMPIONSHIP - Saturday Jan 30th (Superbowl off week)
Championship Game - 8:00 pm

2008 Playoff Proposal
2007 Playoff Proposal
2006 Playoff Proposal
2005 Playoff Proposal
2004 Playoff Proposal
2003 Playoff Proposal
2002 Playoff Proposal
2001 Playoff Proposal
2000 Playoff Proposal