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2011 NCAA Football: Pro's and Con's of a Playoff System Versus the BCS

This topic has been long debated since the Bowl Championship Series was developed in 1998. Previous to that, there was the Bowl Alliance and Bowl Coalition.

For those that are bit unfamiliar in just what exactly the BCS is, it's a combination of a computer system that calculates stats, rankings, and strength of schedule and poll systems. While it seems like a logical process in terms of quantity and how many colleges there actually are, it seems as though there could be a better method out there.

This leaves the question as to just how open-minded the officials who run the BCS would be to change. Would they be willing to switch over to a more traditional playoff method? And if so, would there be some incorporation of the existing BCS as a qualifier? Both of those present a lot of debate on both sides of the equation but ultimately it will not be determined by the general public and those who are fans of college football.

My personal feelings are that some form or another of a playoff system would draw insurmountable levels of interest to the sport. Hand in hand with that would be revenue. If and when the NCAA wises up to at the very least the concept, or concept(s), we, as fans are stuck with what is the BCS.

In the end, there will be a champion but the possibilities of having a smaller school as a National Champion would be all that more appealing.

Below, we will look at a few different options in what could work as legitimate playoff systems for NCAA Football thereafter opening it up to discussion and, or your thoughts on a playoff system that would be compatible for college football.


  • The first thing to this option that would need to be done is the combining the divisions of the conferences. For example, in the ACC you have the Atlantic and Coastal divisions and the now Big Ten (formerly Big XII) would be made in to a single conference. In other words, the ACC, Big Ten, etc would not be divided.
  • The next step to Option A would be to have the best records of each conference move on to a playoff bracket. There are 11 major conferences (which includes the Independent Conference). The Independent Conference teams could remain "Independent" and be left out of all together, or they could join conferences to even things out making 10 total.
  • The 10 conferences would be ranked from 1-10 using something similar to the BCS. But each conference would be ranked as a single unit. (i.e.) So if the SEC was had the most difficult schedule and best winning percentage, then they would be ranked as the #1 seeded conference. (i.e.) If the MWC finished with the worst percentages, then obviously they would be the #10 seeded conference.
  • There would be six total rounds which would include the National Title Game which is would be six additional weeks tacked on to the 11-12 that team play now. And three more weeks longer than how long the current amount of time it takes for all the bowls to end.
  • Each of the top two teams that finished with the best records from each conference would play the lower ranked teams. The #1 seed would play the #24 seed, #2 would play #23, #3 would play #22, and so forth... similar to that of the NCAA Basketball Tourney; just on a much smaller scale.
  • The first twelve games of the first round would be considered the less prestigious bowl games but would have the capacity to earn double the revenue of what they normally do.
  • The second round would feature the winners of round one facing off against each other which would be six games.
  • Round two's winners would play in round three (three games), round three's winners would play in round four. At this point the two teams that had the highest ranking would be getting a bye week to rest up.
  • Thereafter, you have four remaining teams. Those four teams would be playing to get in to the National Title Game.


  • Keep the BCS ranking system in place. The top bowl games would stay in place. The amount of new bowls is getting more and more ridiculous by the day anyway.
  • Take the top 16 teams and create a playoff bracket similar to the NFL dividing the conferences to represent what the NFC and AFC do in the NFL. Teams ranked #1 - #4 would be getting the first week bye's.
  • So teams ranked #5 - #16 would play to get to the next round. #5 would play #16 from that specific bracket. #6 would play #15 in the opposite bracket, and so forth. The winners of those rounds in the lower brackets would play teams #1 - #4 in the next round.
  • Everything would operate nearly parallel to the way it does in the NFL in terms of the way the playoffs go.
  • Including the National Championship Game, this would be a total of four rounds, just as it is in the NFL.

  • This option is the most far-fetched and will almost undoubtedly not happen but I think it would be the best route to go.
  • This option would be a complete overhaul of the conferences. There are 110 teams in the major conferences. It may seem like a lot but bear with me. The 110 teams would be divided up in to 22 major conferences with 5 teams a piece.
  • A system similar to BCS would need to stay in place with a few adjustments. Possibly a coaches/ fan poll.
  • The teams that finish with the best record of each conference would move on to the bracket. To avoid ties, each team would play their conference opponents twice with three more games against an outside conference opponent. Should there be a tie in record between two or more teams conference record would break the tie. If they both went undefeated, then it would go to strength of schedule percentage.
  • The first round would be a 'wildcard round' so-to-speak. This round would feature teams that are ranked #11-#22. These 12 teams would play in 6 games which results in 6 winners obviously. (These games would be in alignment with bowl games geographically of where the teams were playing).
  • Round two would feature teams #1 - #10 that previously had bye weeks facing off against the 6 teams from the wildcard round. This would result in 8 remaining teams. (These games would be in alignment with bowl games geographically of where the teams were playing).
  • Round three would feature the 8 remaining teams in 4 games. These games would be the four major bowl games (Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl).
  • Round four would be parallel to a "final four" type of situation. Championship Weekend.
  • Finally, we would have the National Championship Game.
Well those are my thoughts and alternatives to the current situation. Feel free to add your own or comment on the options above. If you like the way the BCS is set up, feel free to state that as well and why.