The college football season is officially in the books.
After 35 bowl games, can we really say that there’s an actual Division I national champion?
The NCAA says that this year’s Division I champ is Eastern Washington. The BCS says the champion was decided when Oregon and Auburn played on Monday night.
Who’s right? Heck, I don’t know.
But what I do know is that after 70 different FBS teams played a "postseason" game, it looked to me that everyone involved with the Football Bowl Subdivision — fans, media, even players and coaches — spent more time talking about the potential of a playoff system than they did about who won or lost this or that bowl game.
Everybody’s got their argument about why a playoff system at the highest level can or can’t work, and many have their own idea about how a playoff system should look. Four teams? Eight? 16?
The biggest factor involved always seems to be the money tied into the bowl games that gets divvied up between teams, conferences, the NCAA and, of course, the corporate sponsors, so I thought I’d try my hand at my own idea of what a playoff should look like. And if it’s done my way, you don’t even have to change all that much about the current BCS system.
You can keep the automatic bids from the six "power" conferences and you can even keep the four BCS bowl games intact. All you have to do is add two more at-large bids. That’s it. Now you’ve got 12 teams and uncharted excitement.
The NCAA selection committee can even use the BCS standings. Just take the six automatic qualifiers and the highest six at-large teams to round out the field, and seed them 1-12 with whatever criteria deemed reasonable.
In the first round, the No. 1 seed through the No. 4 seed get a bye.
After the first round — four "play-in" games — you’re left with an eight-team field in which the highest seed plays the lowest seed and so forth. Here’s the best part. Each one of those playoff games — four in the first round and three in the second — are up for grabs as far as which bowl game hosts them. Sponsors can bid on which round and which game they want each year, and the end result of that is more revenue, not less. The second-round (quarterfinal) game featuring the No. 1 seed versus the No. 8 or No. 9 seed can go to the BCS game that gets left out. Let’s say it’s the Sugar Bowl.
Once you get to the semifinals, you play your other BCS Bowls — the Orange Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl — and finally, the Rose Bowl for the national championship.
Each year, the BCS games can rotate so each one is the national title game every four years. The second-round BCS game this year would be the national title game the next, and so forth.
That version of a 12-team playoff would mean four rounds, and here’s the best part — it only took 11 games to crown a champion. That means, not only are there still 24 other bowl games out there to play for 48 lucky teams, but they would actually be viewed for what they are — exhibitions. Only the highest bidding bowl games get to host the playoffs.
Confused yet? I know I am.
But under that 12-team bracket, based solely on this year’s BCS standings, we would have gotten to see first-round playoff games between Wisconsin and UConn, Oklahoma and Boise State, Virginia Tech and Ohio State and Arkansas and Michigan State.
And waiting for the winner of those games in the next round would have been Auburn (in the Sugar Bowl), Oregon, Stanford and TCU.
Not too shabby.
Is it perfect? No. Would there be teams (like LSU, Alabama and even Nevada) screaming about the injustice that they were on the outside looking in? Probably.
But at least they’d still have a meaningless bowl game to prepare for, and that’s how things went down this year under the current system, anyway.
As for the "real" 2010-11 Division I champion, hats off to EWU. The Eagles wouldn’t have had a shot under any other system. And for Delaware, based on the looks on their faces when the 19-point lead was melting away in the second half, my guess is that UD coach K.C. Keeler’s halftime speech must have involved telling the players not to sell their national championship rings on eBay, because he obviously forgot there were still 30 minutes of football to play.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.