What would a college football playoff look like this year? (Part 4)

(Be sure to check out last week’s version of the bracket as a comparison.)

What’s done is done. That’s the…..um……great thing about the BCS system. Oklahoma jumped Texas last week in the rankings and now the Sooners are slated to face the Gators in the title game. As in years past, fans are supposed to just swallow this bitter pill and move on. Some lazy, narrow-minded sportswriters are happy to have the “debate” because their next few columns will essentially write themselves.

The truth is that the current system is not only a slap in the face to the Longhorns and their supporters, but to all college football fans across the country. The vast majority of us (85%-90% if you believe the polls) would like to see some sort of college football playoff. So the last few weeks I’ve been summarizing a proposed playoff system.

Here are my assumptions…

1. There would be an eight-team playoff. The six BCS-conference champs get an automatic bid unless they are ranked outside the top 15.

2. If a conference champ is ranked lower than #15 in the rankings, they give up their automatic bid and it becomes an at-large bid. (This rule is to ensure that the regular season keeps its meaning and only the elite teams make the playoffs.)

3. Seeds and at-large bids are distributed based on the current BCS standings. Certainly, these rankings need to be tweaked to place more of an emphasis on head-to-head matchups, but they are fine for now. If an at-large team has a better BCS ranking than a conference champion, they will get a higher seed.

4. There will be three rounds of playoffs. The first round will be held at the home stadium of the higher-seeded team. The semifinals and the final will rotate amongst the four BCS cities (Miami, Pasadena, Tempe and New Orleans).

So how does last weekend’s action affect our playoff field?

8-seed Cincinnati @ 1-seed Oklahoma
Both teams did what they needed to do. The Bearcats sneaked by Hawaii and Oklahoma was convincing in its win over Missouri.

5-seed USC @ 4-seed Alabama
In this case, it looks like the BCS rankings work. Both teams have one loss, but Alabama lost to a better team. Who wouldn’t want to see the Trojans visit Tuscaloosa? The winner would face the winner of the 1/8 game.

6-seed Utah @ 3-seed Texas
This format works for the little guy, or at least it works for Utah. (Sorry Boise State!) In order to advance, the Utes would have to win in Austin.

7-seed Penn State @ 2-seed Florida
With the Hawkeyes’ recent play, suddenly the Nittany Lions’ loss to Iowa doesn’t look so bad. They would face a tough test trying to win in Gainesville against the surging Gators.

This format would set up pair of semifinals that would pit Oklahoma versus Alabama and Texas versus Florida.

ACC champion Virginia Tech gives up its bid because the Hokies are not ranked in the top 15. With four losses, few would argue that VT should be included. With a win over #17 Oregon and an undefeated record, Boise State has the biggest gripe. We would have to move to a 12-team format (or require the conference champs to be ranked in the top 10, eliminating Cincy) to include the Broncos.

The other teams that are on the outside looking in — Texas Tech, Ohio State, TCU, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Georgia — either have three losses or have lost to teams that made the playoff, so the regular season clearly still holds its importance. (If Texas Tech had beat Oklahoma, if Ohio State had beat Penn State, if TCU had beaten Oklahoma and Utah, etc.)

The exclusion of Boise State is regrettable, but like March Madness, does anyone really think that the Broncos would be able to win three straight games against the elite teams in the country en route to a national championship? Unfortunately, in an eight-team playoff, we wouldn’t know for sure. It would be nice to have an option for a play-in game when there is an undefeated team from a non-power conference. In this case, Boise State could play Cincinnati for the right to play Oklahoma. However, if Ball State hadn’t lost to Buffalo, we’d be looking at two undefeated teams that would have been excluded. Then things get a little more dicey.

Another option would be a 12-team playoff that includes all the BCS conference champions and six at-large bids. That way, in addition to Oklahoma, Florida, USC, Penn State, Cincinnati and Virginia Tech getting bids, at-large teams Texas, Alabama, Utah, Texas Tech, Boise State and Ohio State would also get bids. I’m warming up to the idea of a 12-team playoff because it would account for cases like Boise State. Critics say that it would add too many games, but the only teams that would potentially play four games would be teams ranked #5 through #12 that made it to the title game (which is an unlikely scenario). Otherwise, everyone would play three or fewer additional games.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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