One Way to Make December Matter in College Football
Once again, college football fans will have to wait more than a month before a national champion is crowned. The BCS championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame will not be played until January 7, 2013. Until then, we will get a ton of bowl games that once meant something, but are now meaningless.
Whether one is for or against a college football playoff, it is obvious that the system needs to be fixed. In 2014, the NCAA will begin a four team playoff which will please most fans, but still will not solve the problem of downtime between regular season and championship game. With the current trend of conference realignments it seems as though we are headed to four major football conferences of 16 teams each. This would be good and could lead to a more reasonable playoff system that would bridge the gap between December and January.
Here is one that would make each conference happy and relevant.
When college football is done creating its four conferences of 16 teams, each will either split into two eight team divisions or four with four teams. The two division format would make more sense for what we will look at, as will be shown later.
In the current system, each conference has their top two teams meet in a championship game. In the 16 team future, they should consider expanding their playoff to four teams. Instead of having the division winners play each other in one game, let them play the second place team in the other in a semifinal. For example, the winner of the SEC East would play the second place team in the West. This would give us four playoff teams in each conference and 16 all together.
Starting on the first week in December, each conference would play their first round of playoffs. All games would be played at the home field of the division winners. In order for all of the games to get maximum television exposure, there could be two games played on Friday night and six on Saturday.
On the second week in December, we would get the conference championships. These games would be played at a neutral sight. One game could be played on Friday night. The other three would take place on Saturday as part of a TV triple header. This would give us the four conference champions who would advance to the national playoff.
On the third week of December, the semifinals would take place. These games would be played at a rotating, neutral sight just like the NCAA basketball regional finals are. The winners would go on to meet in the championship game two weeks later on the day after New Year’s.
As for the teams who are eliminated in each round, they would still remain eligible for bowl games and compete in them.
A four conference, 16 team playoff would go a long way toward solving the problem of worthy teams not getting a chance to play for the title. Of course, an independent like Notre Dame would have to join a conference, but they would, just as they have done in basketball.
The playoff would, also solve the problem of too much down time between regular season and championship game.