The Kansas Plan

One fan's musings for a 20 team NCAA Division I football championship playoff.

The goals of the format:

1) Include the champion of every Division I-A conference. The plan would also allow at-large berths to accommodate independents and best of the conference teams. Though the at-large berths are still somewhat subjective, it gives every team a shot at making the playoffs on their own merit and does not eliminate because of conference affiliation.

2) Allow no more than three teams per conference. The logic being that if a team is not one of the top three in its own conference, it is not deserving of playing for the national championship.

3) Expand beyond the "BCS bowls" in the format; make each bowl in the playoff more important. This increases interest and potential revenue and potentially improves the prestige of non-playoff bowls by eliminating some of the marginal teams from bowl contention. The standard for bowl qualification could be raised to seven wins because fewer overall teams are needed to fill 28 bowl slots, virtually one-half of all Division I-A teams under current system.

4) Give northern states an opportunity to host playoff games. Existing bowls tend to be in warm-weather climates. In order to make geographic distribution of games more equitable, the plan includes domed stadiums in Minneapolis, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Syracuse in the rotation.

5) Allow for automatic qualifiers from specific conferences. The Atlantic Coast (ACC), Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 (XII), Conference USA (CUSA), Mid-American (MAC), Mountain West (MWC), Pacific Ten (Pac 10), Southeastern (SEC), Sunbelt, and Western Athletic (WAC) are automatic qualifiers. Nine at-large teams are chosen to fill out the field. Sixteen teams are seeded with four first round games pitting seeds 13-16 vs. unseeded teams. The final four teams not seeded because the games can then be regionalized, reducing travel requirements for teams and fans.

6) Current BCS bowls, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and Rose continue to rotate championship game. Fiesta would be designated the championship game this year and next year Fiesta would move to be a quarterfinal game. Then it would have two years as a semifinal game before returning to championship designation. The other three bowls would follow suit.

7) Give three other bowls permanent quarterfinal status. Cotton, Gator, Holiday are chosen for geographic reasons.

8) The first and second round matchups are played in rotating sites. The plan uses as many existing bowls as possible with additional northern domed sites. Sites will be as close to neutral between competing schools as possible, with advantage – if any - to the higher seeded team

9) Reduce negative impact of Title IX. Produce enough revenue that member institutions keep Olympic sports such as men's tennis, soccer, swimming, etc. These are being eliminated across the country. Few would argue the value of Title IX's impact on women's athletics. The money generated here would contribute towards the goal of making the playing field level for all athletes. Perhaps even band members and cheerleaders could be on scholarship. Many give untold hours for practice and travel without much recognition, compensation or financial support.

In the process, a true national champion is crowned. 40% of money to be shared equally by all member institutions, 60% to participants (conferences) in the same manner NCAA basketball tournament revenue is distributed.

This system would also have most games in timeframe when most student athletes are not in class, have completed finals, and on semester break, therefore eliminating missed classes for travel and games.

Hypothetical playoffs if in place for 2002 season:

Seeds. Using BCS formula, note seeds adjusted to place schools from same conference in different brackets, preventing them from playing before semifinal round. This year that would affect Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas and avoid a Texas-Kansas State matchup in second round.

1. Miami, FL
2. Ohio State
3. Georgia
4. Southern California
5. Iowa
6. Washington State
7. Oklahoma
8. Kansas State
9. Michigan
10. Notre Dame
11. Texas
12. Florida State
13. Boise State
14. West Virginia
15. Colorado State
16. Marshall

Four non-seeded teams: Arkansas, Maryland, North Texas, Texas Christian

Though ranked higher than teams advancing, Colorado and Penn State are not participating because of rating of fourth in their respective conferences. Alabama is on probation. Maryland is picked over NC State by taking second place in ACC. Arkansas chosen over Auburn, Florida, LSU by virtue of West Division tiebreaker. West Virginia over Pittsburgh due to head-to-head result in last game of season.

First round games (Dec. 21):

Insight Bowl: Boise State vs. North Texas, 8 pm eastern
Syracuse: West Virginia vs. Maryland, 11 am eastern
Capital One/Orlando: Marshall vs. Arkansas, 2 pm eastern
Sun Bowl: Colorado State vs. Texas Christian, 5 pm eastern

Second round games (Fri/Sat, Dec. 27 and 28):

Outback Miami, FL vs. winner Marshall/Arkansas Fri, 11 am eastern
Minneapolis: Kansas State vs. Michigan, Fri 8 pm eastern
Silicon Valley: Southern California vs. winner Boise State/North Texas, Fri 5 pm eastern
Independence: Iowa vs. Florida State, Fri 2 pm eastern
Music City: Ohio State vs. winner Colorado State/Texas Christian, Sat 11 am eastern
St. Louis: Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame, Sat 8 pm eastern
Liberty: Georgia vs. winner West
Virginia/Maryland, Sat 2 pm eastern Holiday: Washington State vs. Texas, Sat 5 pm eastern

Quarterfinals (Fri/Sat, Jan. 3 and 4):

Peach Bowl: winner Outback vs. winner Minneapolis, Fri 1 pm eastern
Rose Bowl: winner Silicon Valley vs. winner Independence, Fri 5 pm eastern
Gator Bowl: winner Music City vs. winner St. Louis, Sat 1 pm eastern
Cotton Bowl: winner Liberty vs. winner Insight. Sat 5 pm eastern

Semifinals (Jan. 11):

Orange Bowl: winner Peach vs. winner Rose, 3 pm eastern
Sugar Bowl: winner Gator vs. winner Cotton, 7 pm eastern

Championship (Jan. 18):

Fiesta Bowl: winner Orange vs. winner Sugar, 8 pm eastern

Bowls not included in playoff: Note: these bowls could be rotated in to first and second round playoff matchups, or they could stand alone Hawaii, for example poses travel problems for most schools. A "pecking order" could be established….

But here are some possible interesting matchups:

Diamond Walnut/San Francisco: Oregon State (8-4) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5) OSU black and orange vs. OSU black and orange, Pac 10 vs. XII

Seattle: Oregon (7-5) vs. Fresno State (8-5) PAC 10 vs. WAC

Continental Tire/Charlotte: NC State (10-3) vs. Tennessee (8-4) ACC vs. SEC

GMAC/Mobile: Boston College (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech, or CUSA rep (see New Orleans) Big East vs. ?

New Orleans: Clemson (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech, Tulane, Southern Mississippi or Louisville (7-5)

ConAgra Hawaii: Hawaii (10-3) vs. Florida (8-4) Battle of the tourist destination states

Houston: Texas Tech (8-5) vs. Virginia Tech (9-4) TECHnically speaking, one of the better bowl matchups. If only Louisiana Tech was bowl eligible this could set up possible doubleheader with La Tech vs. Ga. Tech

Alamo/San Antonio: Pittsburgh (8-4) vs. Auburn (8-4) Big East vs. SEC

Humanitarian/Boise: Air Force (8-4) vs. UCLA, Minnesota or Washington (7-5) Air Force should be right at home in the wild blue yonder (tundra?)

Tangerine/Orlando: Virginia (8-5) vs. Louisiana State (8-4) ACC vs. SEC, part II

Motor City/Pontiac: Toledo (9-4) vs. UCLA, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, or Washington (7-5) Toledo vs. Bob Toledo's team?

Las Vegas: Colorado (9-4) vs. Arizona State (8-5) XII vs. Pac 10, part II

6-6 teams Wake Forest, Purdue, Mississippi eliminated
7-6 teams Wisconsin, New Mexico, Nebraska (!), Iowa State, Cincinnati eliminated
7-5 teams some in, some out Top Stories