8 is better than 4

Alabama v Clemson, Ok State v Wisconsin
LSU v West Virginia, Oregon v Stanford

This would have been your 2012 College Football Playoff quarterfinal bracket
hosted by the 4 BCS Bowl sites on if this article was followed starting in 2011.
You want a selection committee of four so ‘experts’ on college football?

The same but stronger bowl schedule, more upsets, more revenue, more fairness, more fun.

So you want to talk college football playoffs?  Fine, but to start this breakdown, lets talk about what everyone wants in a new system.  It is tough to negotiate with an open mind without having all the concerns and ‘demands’ of every conference and fan on the table. Here are the points I have been able to glean from all the reporting on the playoff topic.

  • Give every team a shot at getting into the playoff
  • We need a NCG on a neutral field
  • We need to have the top 4 teams in the playoff
  • We need to include conference champions
  • We need to revise the current poll/ranking system
  • We need to preserve the current bowl system
  • We all want to make more money
  • Make fans excited for playoffs
  • We all want a piece of the new playoff contract revenue

Before we reverse engineer this whole thing, remember fans, this process of a playoff was because the fans got sick of the status quo.  Don’t settle for whatever plan the conferences want to try and push down your throat.  Get as much information as you can and push for what you want.  If enough fans get on the same page they will listen, as they did to even consider a playoff scenario.  Whether this article meets your needs or simply adds to it, don’t settle as we have already shown ‘they’ are listening.

Let’s start with the real piece of the puzzle.  Money and how to split it up.  This is a team effort from all the schools and yes, some teams and conferences are more talented than other but that is no different that other sports that generate big revenues.  Since college football is being treated more every day like a self contained big business, I suggest to do what big sports business does at a monetary impasse.  Revenue Share.  Split the pot.  Each playoff teams gets a X-million(s) per diem for each playoff game and whatever is left over from whatever TV deal they come up with, just split it.  But this, but that, what about…… stop the whining and let’s be big kids and get this done.  Sharing is not a bad thing.  It is not  going to hurt your school or team more than anyone else and helps to maintain a competitive balance and opportunity.  Even professional sports agree to disagree. 
We all want a piece of the pie. Split it up with AQs after team expense. CHECK

Isn’t that a big reason we are here today is to make fans happy with the playoff system?  For many fans ANY playoff system is better than the current playoff system in place today.  But is it?  maybe in the short term, but what most fans don’t think about or even want to admit is that they see a playoff as a way to not only be more fair in getting to a ‘true’ national champion, but to create more excitement and drama.  If you crave a playoff for drama and upsets, a la March basketball, then a 4 team playoff is not for you.  It’s a numbers game.  In college football an upset, at least in the CFBMatrix predictions, occurs once every 4 to 5 games.  With a 4 team playoff you get 3 games, or 1 upset every 2 years.  With 8 teams you get 7 games or 1-2 upsets every year.  it’s all about the numbers and the emotional needs of fans to feel excited and expect the unexpected. 8 games is much better for fans than just 4.
Get fans more excited & involved. CHECK

The secret of NCAA basketball in March is numbers.  The more games you play, the more chance there is for upsets.  Why do you crave upsets by the little guy, because you are the 99%.  You want to live the dream of the upset, of the little guy defying the odds and without 8 or more teams the odds of upsets dwindle and in the long term, so will your peak interest.  A 4 seed beating a 1 seed or 3 over 2 is not that exciting.  But a 8 over 1, a Big East beating a SEC?  That’s drama, that’s what fans live for is the unexpected….and hope.  Just like in their lives, hope of more, hope of making it big, hope of not being the 99%.  Take away the upsets, or chances of it and you start taking away the subconscious hopes of most fans.  I am talking to you Rudy!

With more fans involved and excited, you get to make more money and diversify the product.  With an 8 team playoff you will get to add two more games to the Bowl Season, but those two semi-final games may involve an underdog, a surprise and certainly more money.  Do you think MLB expanded playoffs for fun? Do you think the NFL wants to go to 18 games to get fans less involved.  More playoffs and more games means more teams in it for a longer period which drive involvement and thus revenue.  An 8 team system with a selection committee means more shows, more breakdowns and more money.  By adding just two games and no changes in the Bowl system, everybody gets more involved and revenue increases. 
Make more money for everyone.CHECK

In the CFBMatrix proposal, the bowls DO NOT CHANGE.  Right now there are 10 teams selected by requirement and by choice and are taken out of the current bowl structure.  10 and I am just asking for 8.  So the current bowl system of non-BCS bowls benefits by getting 2 quality teams back into it’s system.  All the bowl games can still stick to their same scheduling, dates, times, contracts with conferences and locations.  This is a win/win for everyone that loves the bowl system and the benefits it provides for players, schools and the fans.  As much as I might personally gripe about the number of  bowl games, I still love knowing I get to watch college football nearly every day for a month.
Preserve the current bowl system. CHECK

So here is where I am at in my argument.  Revenues and ‘money made being split’ problem solved with revenue sharing, fans are excited for more teams and upsets, more money is made overall by adding two games and the bowl system stays intact as is for the immediate future.  But how to structure the playoff so everyone is involved and happy.

There are two simple options for the National Championship Game location. The winners of the two semi-final games meet at the usually stadium in the BCS bowl rotation or that is dropped for outside bidding.  Since we are on a time crunch for a decision, the obvious choice is status quo and stick with the current NCG location rotation. 
Retain BCS NCG bowl sites CHECK

By having a 4 team playoff you now get into making 2 of the annual 5 BCS bowl site marginalized and into in-fighting over the location rotation.  It’s not that I wouldn’t mind that jiffy-pop like dump of a location in Phoenix being out of the picture, but there is a lot of money and economic impact on the line for those big time BCS bowls.  Share the locations, stay on the current rotation and don’t allow these BCS bowls and locations to derail change.  That’s petty and stupid to make it an issue.  The semi-final games would be played in two neutral locations to be bid out and selected by the system that will oversee the entire playoff process.  They could be current BCS bowl locations (not the NCG location that year) or other new sites. 
New sites and ways to generate more revenue than current system CHECK

Getting to the semi-finals goes through the current 4 BCS bowls at the Orange, Fiesta, Rose and Sugar Bowls.  This insures the current process of BCS bowls goes unchanged for location and scheduling.  There may be a blending of dates they are played, like the NFL where two games are Saturday and two Sunday. By having 8 teams and not 4 it only adds one extra game for 2 teams and two games for the two NCG finalists.  The BCS quarter final bowls would be played as usual January 1/2, the semis the next week in between the current break between the BCS bowls and NCG.  And just like it is scheduled now, the NCG is two weeks after the BCS quarterfinals.  Remember, this only takes 8 teams not 10 from the bowl system and the schedule is unchanged.  The issue seems to be the selection process.

One group wants the top 4, and for good reason.  The other camp wants conference champions, also for good reason.  Both have their serious shortcomings and by the aforementioned discussion, 8 is really easy and the best way to go.  As I mentioned last month on ESPN radio 1080 The Fan, the solution is both.  Lock in the conference champs to give make those playoff games, and the season a playoff for those without a champ game and then use the last 2 spots and current BCS system for the last two wildcards.  Does the BCS system need fixing in it ratings?  Heck ya.  It’s terrible that there is zero oversight on the computer rankings and that we saw a mistyped result of a FCS game can cause a 1 spot shift in the rankings.  But for now, let it ride as it is the best we have without a long term solution.

Want to see what the CFBMatrix solution and brackets would have looked like since 2005 thru 2011?  Just click on the brackets.  They are the 6 conference champs, 2 top wildcard choices and last team on the outside looking in.

If you can’t get excited about those brackets, keeping the current bowl system, all the bowl sites, adding two new stadiums to the semi-finals and keeping the entire bowl season schedule in tact while giving every team a shot to get in, then you have no pulse.

The playoffs would start from week 1 as the wildcard spots would be in immediate play.  The two conferences with no conference champ game would be a season long playoff in the Big East (I will talk later about whether to include BE or not in the future) and the BIG12.  Those two conferences would be responsible for their own criteria for submitting their ‘champion’.  That’s 22 teams in a weekly playoff elimination tournament.  The other 4 conference would have the championship game (or not) and place their representative in the playoff.  That’s 4 guaranteed playoff games plus 50 teams in a season long battle to a championship.  With the remaining 2 spots being wildcards it still leave the door open for the other 52 teams to make an undefeated run to try and sneak into the playoffs.  The last two in and seeding can be done by a selection committee or some formula that can be reviewed each year for tuning it up should issues arise.  Match-ups can be skewed for B1G/PAC12 Rose Bowl match-ups or other locations for specific conference locations.
Top 4 plus conference champs CHECK

There are details that would need to be ironed out but this CFBMatrix solution provides fans, teams, players, schools and conference the ability and solution to solve all the current problems brought forth in the last 4 months of playoff discussion.  The question is do the conferences want to cooperate and are the fans will to keep pushing to get the best case scenario?

– Dave Bartoo

P.S. – For all the conference commissioners that say we dont want to add more games to our student athletes, you didn’t mind adding #11 a decade ago, #12 a few years back and then championship games.  Give us 8 playoff games and get rid of an extra out of conference game that is unnecessary and reviled in college football.  In 2011 we would have lost Alabama vs. Western Kentucky, LSU vs Northwestern State, OK State vs Savannah State, Oregon vs. Missouri State, Stanford vs. Duke, Clemson vs Furman, Wisconsin vs North Dakota and West Virginia vs Norfolk State.   Ohhhhh I think fans would be ok trading out those for the match-ups lists at the start of the article. All. Day. Long.

You can comment below or reach Dave via email dave@CFBMatrix.com or twitter @CFBMatrix


About The College Football Matrix

Where the eyeball test meets odds & trends. Its not math or a 'prediction' machine. It is a unique & new way of telling the story, past, present & future of CFB. There is nothing else like in for college football anywhere. www.cfbmatrix.com
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