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Monday, November 27th 2006

Why A +1 System Could Work

If Florida is diddled out of the national championship game that will be the second time in three years that a team from the nation’s “toughest conference” has been screwed.

This is important because the SEC commissioner is currently serving as the BCS commish (it is a rotating position). Could some changes be coming in the next couple years? Even with the television contract looked in, maybe actually.

Any hope for a playoff system must be a compromise. D1 will never look like 1-AA. And despite the hypocrisy of it, a Division 1 playoff must do at the minimum two things:

  • Not extend the season
  • Not destroy the bowl system

The only hope? A plus one system. Even this faces significant difficulty but perhaps after this year it will be a real possibility.

A plus one system would be, for all intents and purposes, a four team playoff. Sure there’d still be whining by that fifth team in some years and it holds significant other hurdles, many of which I’m sure I don’t even perceive although I’ll discuss some of them below.

But the point is, of all the playoff systems proposed, the plus one system achieves the two major goals I listed above.

  • It does not extend the season
  • It preserves the bowl system

All that would happen is that the BCS games would be required to match up #1 versus #4 and #2 versus #3 on a rotating basis. Let’s imagine how such a rotation would work, it isn’t difficult.

2007 (This Year)
Rose Bowl – PAC 10 v. Big 10
Fiesta Bowl – Big 12 v. Open
Orange Bowl – #2 versus #3
Sugar Bowl – #1 versus #4

Sugar Bowl – SEC v. Open
Rose Bowl – PAC 10 v. Big 10
Fiesta Bowl – #2 versus #3
Orange Bowl – #1 versus #4

Orange Bowl – ACC v. Open
Sugar Bowl – SEC v. Open
Rose Bowl – #2 versus #3
Orange Bowl – #1 versus #4

You get the idea.

Then, the next week, in the already existing national championship game, you get the winner of the #2/#3 game and the winner of the #1/#4 game facing off.

So, what’s the problem with this? Well the major one is that it removes two BCS teams. However, that is the way it was before this past year! We’re just going back to the way it was. The major losers in such a situation are the non-BCS conferences.

As well, some people will try to tell you that it doesn’t truly remove the controversy as the teams vying for that fourth spot will all be whining (imagine three two loss teams filing the fourth, fifth, and sixth BCS rankings). True, but in reality I promise you fewer people would care about the complaints.

At the least, it would significantly reduce the number of years where there would be large scale, media covered temper tantrums by teams left out of the BCS.

You might imagine you have to change the automatic qualifying rules. But actually not very much. You would have to bump the non-BCS conference qualifiers up (maybe from Top 12 to Top 8 ). You might have to bump Notre Dame up (Top 6 finish?)

Or, unwilling to do that, you could simply add a fifth BCS bowl. That would cause the already BCS bowls to whine a bit, no doubt, but the Cotton or Peach Bowl have more than enough tradition and strong enough infrastructure and organization to handle the role.

Like I said, any playoff system will require compromise. This is just the one with the least muddy road to implementation.

How would it have looked in the past if this system was implemented:

#1 Tennessee (SEC) v. #4 Ohio St. (At Large)
#2 Florida State (ACC) v. #3 Kansas State (At Large)
Wisconsin (Big 10) v. UCLA (PAC 10)
Syracuse (Big East) v. Texas A&M (Big 12)

#1 Florida State (ACC) v. #4 ‘Bama (SEC)
#2 Va Tech (Big East) v. #3 Nebraska (Big 12)
Wisconsin (Big 10) v. Stanford (PAC 10)
Tennessee (At Large) v. Michigan (At Large)

#1 Oklahoma (Big 12) v. #4 Washington (PAC 10)
#2 Florida State (ACC) v. #3 Miami (Big East)
Purdue (Big 10) v. Florida (SEC)
Oregon State (At Large) v. Va Tech (At Large)