Editor’s note: Spencer is a fan of the LoyalCougars blog and of the Rise & Shout podcast. After seeing a series of tweets by him about his version of a college football playoff, I thought it would be fun to have him detail it out here on the site, especially after I (Adam) did the same a few weeks ago. With only a few minor edits, here’s Spencer’s proposal.
Conference expansion has been a mixed bag. I thought that Nebraska to the Big 10 was a no-brainer. Utah and Colorado to the PAC-12 weren’t as sexy, but I liked seeing the PAC get to 12. Since then, though, the moves haven’t made a lot of sense. I detest Texas A&M to the SEC. Mizzou too. Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC? Garbage. TCU to the Big XII made sense, so I don’t know how that decision was made. All this got me to thinking that someone ought to be in charge of D-1 College Football. A commish, so to speak. So, if I was hired to be the commish of the FBS, what would I do? Where would I start?
Let’s blow it up
I’d start by blowing up the whole system. I would make all conferences regional in nature and balanced with nine teams each. No independents. No teams in California in the same conference with teams in New York. Also, no conference championship games, because really what is a championship game other than an imitation playoff? No, in my world, we’d actually have a playoff so there would be no need for conference championship games. Conference play would be balanced with four home and four away games. Add four non-conference games. Let teams play who, where, and when they may. Basketball and the other sports can continue on in the conferences they are in now – I don’t care.
Having 8 9-team conferences segues perfectly into an 8-team playoff. This would mean that each conference champion gets in, preserving the sanctity of the regular season, as even one loss within conference play could potentially mean a team ends the year playing at the Meineke Car Care Bowl, rather than having a shot at a National Championship. This also means that only 72 teams would remain playing at the top level of college football, meaning a bunch of people wouldn’t be very happy with me. But really, this is my world, and this is how my world would operate.
Step 1: The conferences
So what would the conferences look like? Here are the conferences I came up with:
Southwest: USC, Arizona, Arizona St., Cal, Fresno, Nevada, Stanford, UCLA, UNLV
Northwest: Air Force, Boise, BYU, Colorado, Colorado St., Oregon, Oregon St., Utah, Washington
Northern: Illinois, Iowa, Iowa St., Kansas, Kansas St., Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin
Southern: Alabama, Auburn, Florida St., Kentucky, Louisville, Ole Miss, Miss. St., Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Mid South: Arkansas, Houston, LSU, Okla. St., Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech
Great Lakes: Cincy, Indiana, Michigan, Mich. St., Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St., Purdue, West Virginia
Northeast: Boston College, UConn, Maryland, Navy, North Carolina, Penn State, Pittsburg, Rutgers, Virginia Tech
Southeast: Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami (FL), North Carolina St., South Carolina, South Florida, Wake Forest
You’ll notice that some AQ teams are missing. Specifically, Washington State of the PAC-12, Baylor of the Big XII, Virginia and Duke of the ACC, and Syracuse of the Big East (moving to the ACC) are left out. Sorry guys, your pedigree and fan bases were lacking in my estimation. Have fun with the FCS.
Step 2: The Champions and the seeding
Next I took a look at all of the conferences and selected winners, based on the 2011 season results and my own opinions of the schools. Here are the champions, in no particular order, along with the seeding.
# Team Wins Loss Seading Region Reason in
1 Stanford 11 1 2 West Southwest Champ
2 Oregon 11 2 4 West Northwest Champ
3 Wisconsin 10 3 3 West Northern Champ
4 Alabama 11 1 1 East Southern Champ
5 LSU 13 0 1 West Mid South Champ
6 Mich. St. 10 3 4 East Great Lakes Champ
7 VaTech 11 2 2 East Northeast Champ
8 Georgia 10 3 3 East Southeast Champ
Step 3: Let’s have a playoff!
I would incorporate six bowl games into my playoff system: The four BCS games (Rose, Fiesta, Orange, and Sugar) as well as two other bowl games (I chose the Cotton and the Citrus). The National Championship game would rotate, but be played in NFL stadiums (perhaps using the Super Bowl model, a stadium could be “awarded” the opportunity to host a NC Game). Can you imagine the excitement that would be present for these games? Here’s a quick overview:
December 16th at 5pm:
#2 Virginia Tech vs. #3 Georgia at the Citrus Bowl, Orlando Florida
Blacksburg, Virginia is 360 miles from Athens, Georgia. Virginia Tech suffered two losses on the season, and both were to Clemson. Lucky for them that Clemson isn’t in their conference in my world, so they win the conference. Georgia lost three games – all to ranked foes. This game would be a fun one to watch.
Result: Defensive struggle, Virginia Tech 17 Georgia 13
December 16th at 8pm:
#1 Alabama vs. #4 Michigan State at the Orange Bowl, Miami Florida
Alabama lost one game this season, to #1 LSU. Needless to say, Alabama is a pretty good team. Michigan State needed a hail mary pass to beat Wisconsin, who later beat them in another close game.
Result: Alabama runs away with it, Alabama 37, MSU 24
December 17th at 5pm:
#2 Stanford vs. #3 Wisconsin at the Cotton Bowl, Dallas Texas
Wisconsin is a well balanced team who scores in bunches and defends among the best in the nation. Stanford is an offensive juggernaut. Can Wisconsin hold them back? Would Andrew Luck take the team on his back to lead them to the National Title Game? We’d know, if only this game was actually being played.
Result: Wisky holds the Cards, Wisconsin 30, Stanford 24
December 17th at 8pm:
#1 LSU vs. #4 Oregon at the Fiesta Bowl, Phoenix Arizona
The #3 offense in the country takes on the #2 defense. Strength vs. Strength. Speed vs. Speed. LSU won the first matchup at the beginning of the season, but Oregon has learned a lot since then. Can LaMichael James and the Oregon offensive line break this game open for Oregon, or will it be another LSU victory against a talented, but inferior opponent?
Result: More of the same, LSU 41, Oregon 24
December 30th at 8pm:
#1 LSU vs. #3 Wisconsin at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena California
I’m salivating at the thought of this game. I think it would be an epic battle between two well-balanced teams. Another defensive struggle though.
Result: Remember Alabama-LSU? LSU 7, Wisconsin 3
December 31th at 5pm:
#1 Alabama vs. #2 Virginia Tech at the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Louisiana
Virginia Tech would have two weeks to prepare for this game. Realizing their offense probably needs a little help to win this game, I think they go Boise State style with gadget plays. Alabama relies on Richardson and a stout defense.
Result: Boise wins! Alabama 17, Virginia Tech 18
National Championship Game
January 7th at 8pm:
Western Region #1 LSU vs. Eastern Region #2 Virginia Tech at Cowboy’s Stadium, Arlington Texas
The biggest story about the first ever National Championship Game is how Virginia Tech made it past Alabama and now has a chance to win their first ever National Championship. LSU steals the show, however.
Result: LSU 37, Virginia Tech 13.