College Football Playoffs: Proposal for 4-Team Playoff Format

Schmolik@@Schmolik64Correspondent IINovember 4, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 09:  Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates with the trophy after defeating Louisiana State University Tigers in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Alabama  won the game by a score of 21-0.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Hello, college football fans!

We have two more seasons to go in the current BCS system before the new four-team playoff format begins. Four teams are unbeaten as of November 4, 2012; the change comes two seasons too late.

The SEC and the Big 12 proposed the "Champions" Bowl to be played between members of the two conferences in prime time on New Year's Night. The site has yet to be determined, but the Sugar Bowl or Cotton Bowl are possibilities.

Meanwhile, the ACC has renewed its deal with the Orange Bowl. The game will start at 1 p.m. on New Year's Day, and the opponent will be chosen from the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame.

There are still many details to work out, though.

There are expected to be six bowls in the playoff rotation. A seventh bowl has been proposed to give the Big East or other conferences an automatic berth, but I will not include that in my proposal.

If the bowls split the semifinals evenly, they would host once every three years and four times in the proposed 12-year contract. While every bowl may not want to host a semifinal every three years, I will create a model where every bowl hosts once every three years.

As for the Champions Bowl, I would split the hosting duties between the Sugar Bowl and the Cotton Bowl.

If one of the two hosted a semifinal, then the other would get first choice (outside of the top four teams) from both the SEC and Big 12.

If neither hosted, then there would be two possibilities: The Cotton and Sugar could alternate who would have the first choice from the two conferences (Sugar in odd years and Cotton in even years or vice versa), while the other bowl would get the second choice from both conferences. Or they could have it so the Cotton would have the first choice from the Big 12 and the second choice from the SEC and the Sugar would have the first choice from the SEC and the second choice from the Big 12.

In addition, the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 would need "backup" bowls in case their contract bowls were semifinals. I propose the following backup deals.

ACC: Peach Bowl (I would change the name from Chick-Fil-A because I think this sounds better).

Big Ten: Orange Bowl. It is part of the deal with the Orange already. If neither the ACC or Big Ten champions made the semifinals, they would meet here (I would make sure the Orange and Rose don't host during the same year).

Pac 12: Desert Bowl (I am changing the name from Fiesta because I think this name is more fitting. I don't associate fiestas and Mexico with Arizona, and the name is tainted because of the scandal).

So, I propose the following rotation:


Rotation A

Semifinals: Rose and Sugar
Cotton: SEC No. 1 vs. Big 12 No. 1
Orange: ACC No. 1 vs. Big Ten No. 1
Desert: Pac-12 No. 1 vs. TBD (Big 12 No. 2?)
Peach: TBD (SEC No. 2 vs. ACC No. 2?)


Rotation B

Semifinals: Orange and Cotton
Rose: Big Ten No. 1 vs. Pac-12 No. 1
Sugar: SEC No. 1 vs. Big 12 No. 1
Peach: ACC No. 1 vs. TBD (SEC No. 2?)
Desert: TBD (Pac-12 No. 2 vs. Big 12 No. 2?)


Rotation C

Semifnals: Peach and Desert
Rose: Big Ten No. 1 vs. Pac-12 No. 1
Sugar/Cotton: SEC No. 1 vs. Big 12 No. 1
Orange: ACC No. 1 vs. TBD (Big Ten No. 2?)
Sugar/Cotton: SEC No. 2 vs. Big 12 No. 2


Essentially, each of the six bowls would be given two conference partners.

Rose: Big Ten and Pac-12

Sugar: SEC and Big 12

Cotton: SEC and Big 12

Orange: ACC and Big Ten (I changed it to Big Ten only since the Big Ten needs a backup bowl and the SEC already has two bowls and will get a third, the Peach).

Desert: Pac-12 and Big 12

Peach: ACC and SEC

The Big 12 and SEC would have three bowls each (because of the Champions bowl split between the Sugar and Cotton) and the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 would have two each. If one of their bowls hosted a semifinal, the conference would lose the bowl slot.

Under this format, the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 would have one team if one of their bowls hosted a semifinal and two teams if neither of their bowls hosted. The SEC and Big 12 would have two teams each year (the rotation was determined to prevent the possibility of three teams in one year). These teams do not include the four teams in the semifinals.

I would want to make sure the two Eastern bowls would not host semifinals the same year and that the two Western bowls would not, either. I would need the Cotton and Sugar to not host the same year. I also would not want to put the Rose and Orange the same year so I could have the Big Ten vs. ACC champion battle.

The rotation and conference placement also guarantee geographically feasible conferences in each non-semifinal bowl rather than teams having to travel cross country (with the exception of the Big Ten going to the Rose Bowl since that is the tradition).

The championship games are not included here. I will assume that the championship host is allowed to double host as is the case now (so if the Rose Bowl hosts the championship, it still gets its Rose Bowl).

The format would hurt the other conferences, including the Big East. The problem is that bowls are still a business and the bowls need to sell tickets as well. I'm not sure any of these bowls would commit to a Big East, MWC, C-USA or other conference champion.

As for the Big East, the problem is that it has teams all across the country. The Sugar or Cotton will most likely get two Southern teams, the Rose Bowl at least one Western team and the Orange Bowl a team from the East Coast.

By contrast, any bowl aligning with the Big East will have to accept that in some years it will get an Eastern team and in others a Western team. No bowl on the East Coast will be happy if Boise State or Houston or a western team wins the Big East. No western bowl will be happy if Louisville or Rutgers or an Eastern team wins. Ironically, the MWC might be more appealing to the Fiesta or Holiday Bowls as it would be guaranteed a regional team.

Hopefully, all of this works out. The bowls will have regional matchups rather than Pac-12 teams in the Orange Bowl or Big East teams in the Fiesta. Also, many of the games will be played on New Year's Day rather than on weekdays after Jan. 1, as is the case now (three of the bowls have set a New Year's Day date).

At the very least, there will be a four-team playoff in two years, and if nothing else changes, that is a win for college football.


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