Every level of college football besides Division 1 awards their national championship to the winner of a tournament. However, any time someone mentions having a playoff for Division 1, the university presidents make numerous excuses. The fact that these excuses don't make a lot of sense is rarely brought up.
"Student athletes would miss too many classes."
Why aren't they worried when a cornerback at Youngstown State, Mt. Union or Grand Valley State misses classes during their playoff run? Many of these smaller divisions begin their playoffs the weekend after Thanksgiving and end before Christmas. You could end the tournament around New Year's or a week later, when schools are still on semester break. Nobody seems to mind when basketball teams take a few weeks off in the spring to make a run to the Final Four.
"We can't have students playing more games."
Again, but smaller division players can play all the games they want? Also, after the Fiesta Bowl, Kansas State will have played 15 games this season. That's just one shy of an NFL team who doesn't make the playoffs. If they eliminate the early games like the Black Coaches Association game, that will cut out on a game right there.
Next year, teams will go back to play an 11 game schedule. There are 14 Saturdays in 2004 between August 28th and November 27th. Have teams schedule their 11 games between those dates and you still get three weeks off. Then, on December 4th you can play all of the conference championship games and the Army-Navy game. The conferences that don't have championship games can even finish up their seasons on that day.
The next day you announce the tournament pairings in a spectacle just as good as the March Madness bracket show. You can give teams the week of December 11th off and maybe even take their final exams.
The big argument against a playoff system is that it would do away with the traditional bowl games. Not in my world it wouldn't.
I say that you play the first round games on the campus of the higher seeds, as a reward for their strong season. Plus, it helps to cut down on travel for half of the teams. The quarterfinal games can be played at bowl sites. Have the bowls bid for the right to host one of 3 quarterfinal tournament games, much like cities bid to host games in the basketball tournament. One quarterfinal game, the two semifinal games and the championship will rotate on a 4-year basis between the Sugar, Orange, Rose and Fiesta Bowls. Since the Sugar Bowl hosts this year's BCS Championship game, they would host a quarterfinal game next year. The Orange Bowl is next in the current rotation, so they would host next year's championship game and the Rose and Fiesta would hold semifinal contests.
Now, you're probably asking yourself who gets into this homemade tournament. Being a conference champion would not get you an automatic invite to my tourney. I don't think a 7-4 Big East champion should get a spot over a 10-1 MAC champion. So, I present three options; pick which one you like best:
1) Continue with the BCS poll and the top 16 teams in the final BCS standings are in the tournament.
2) Take the average of teams' ranking in the AP poll and the USA Today poll. If USC were ranked #1 in one poll and #2 in another, their total would be 1.5. If somebody else's total was also 1.5, you would go to total number of votes to break the tie.
3) Have a selection committee that seeds everyone and places the teams wherever they like. This provides endless fodder for ESPN and sports radio to discuss.
Top 16 and games using the poll average:
16. Florida @ 1. USC (Los Angeles, CA)
12. Purdue @ 5. Texas (Austin, TX)
10. Miami (Florida) @ 7. Tennessee (Knoxville, TN)
Top 16 and games using the BCS from this year, with tournament predictions:
Weekend of December 18th
16. Washington St. @ 1. Oklahoma (Norman, OK)
15. Florida @ 2. LSU (Baton Rouge, LA)
14. Purdue @ 3. USC (Los Angeles, CA)
13. Iowa @ 4. Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
12. Georgia @ 5. Ohio State (Columbus, OH)
11. Miami (Ohio) @ 6. Texas (Austin, TX)
10. Kansas State @ 7. Florida State (Tallahassee, FL)
9. Miami (Florida) @ 8. Tennessee (Knoxville, TN)
Weekend of December 25th
8. Tennessee vs. 1. Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl)
5. Ohio State vs. 4. Michigan (Gator Bowl)
10. Kansas State vs. 2. LSU (Peach Bowl)
6. Texas vs. 3. USC (Fiesta Bowl)
Weekend of January 1st
4. Michigan vs. 1. Oklahoma (Rose Bowl)
3. USC vs. 2. LSU (Orange Bowl)
National Championship Game on the weekend of January 8th
3. USC vs. 1. Oklahoma (Sugar Bowl)
There you go, a national champion decided in a tournament using bowl games. The teams that don't make it into the field of 16 can still play in the bowl games that aren't a part of the tournament. The Continental Tire Bowl is as meaningful under my plan as it is now.
Santa, I'm so tired of split national championships and arguments over who gets into the title game. This is all I want this year. Well, this and success for the Fighting Illini in all sports.