The Ultimate NCAA Football Playoff System: “The Big Brawl”

UPDATE: I have changed my stance on the playoff system. I believe that having the season-long playoff system, watching teams put their season’s hopes and dreams on the line every week, is far better for fans of college footbal than a playoff could ever be. It gives teams the ability to shrug off a regular season loss like it’s nothing, which makes the regular season a lot more boring. 

If you, like me, have been watching ESPN at any given time in the last month, you are probably aware that football coaches and football analysts alike are deriding the current BCS system and demanding a college football playoff. Analysts have said that when it works, it’s an aberration, that it causes more problems than it solves, and that it leaves too many deserving teams out for arbitrary reasons. SEC coaches in particular have been demanding a playoff, most notably Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville (who in 2004 went 13-0 in the SEC and was denied the chance for a title) Florida coach Urban Meyer (who said this week “If we end up with [an Ohio St. – Michigan rematch], all the NCAA presidents need to get together and create a playoff”).

I am torn on this issue. While I think that the current system works better than what was previously in place (at least now the #1 and #2 teams in the polls face each other no matter what), but I also believe that a Big Dance-like system would the fairest way to crown a champion. With the advent of very good mid-major squads like Boise State, we need to give those schools a shot at the championship as well, as remote an opportunity as that may be. With all of this in mind and the final BCS standings to be announced tonight, my sister and I have established a playoff system that we feel is fair to everyone, fields the best teams, and would result in an indisputable national champion.

Rules of the Format:

  • The “Big Brawl” will consist of 16 Division 1-A teams.
  • Automatic bids will be given to the the champion of every current BCS conference (Ohio St, Florida, USC, Louisville, Oklahoma, and Wake Forest in 2006).
  • Automatic bids will also be given to mid-major teams that win their conference AND produce at least 10 regular season victories (Boise State and BYU in 2006).
  • All remaining spots will be filled by at-large bids based on ranking AND strength of schedule (could be as few as 5 spots and as many as 10).
  • Like in basketball, the NCAA football bracket will be separated by four regionals and winners of each regional will go to a “football four” in one championship location, where the semifinals and final will be held.
  • Unlike the basketball tournament, the regional semifinals will be held where current, lesser bowls in large cities take place (e.g. the Rose Bowl regional semis are the Insight Bowl in Tempe and the Las Vegas Bowl, the Peach Bowl regional semis are the Meineke Bowl in Charlotte and the Music City Bowl in Nashville, etc.). This way, the current bowl system is somewhat preserved, and every bowl now has championship implications.
  • The tournament will begin after all fall semesters are over (in this case, 12/22/06) so as not to interfere with schoolwork.
  • Teams will be seeded 1 to 4 in each regional based on ranking and strength of schedule.
  • Teams will be placed in regionals based on staying as close to home as reasonably possible AND preventing rematches until at least the national semifinals, and no #1 seeds may have a possible rematch until the national final.
  • In this specific bracket, Ohio State and Wisconsin, despite both being Big Ten teams, are allowed to be in the same regional as they did not play a regular season game against each other.
  • In each regional the teams will play with a 1-week layoff between games, as in the regular season.

Are you still with me? good. now, let’s do some football bracketology. Based on rankings, strength of schedule and conference champion, here are the teams I have in the bracket for 2006:

#1 Seeds:

  • Ohio State (Big Ten Champion)
  • Michigan (Big Ten at-large)
  • Florida (SEC Champion)
  • USC (Pacific 10 Champion)

#2 Seeds:

  • Wisconsin (Big Ten at-large)
  • LSU (SEC at-large)
  • Louisville (Big East Champion)
  • Oklahoma (Big 12 Champion)

#3 Seeds:

  • Auburn (SEC at-Large)
  • Notre Dame (Independent)
  • Arkansas (SEC at-large)
  • Tennessee (SEC at-large)

#4 Seeds:

  • Wake Forest (ACC Champion)
  • Boise State (WAC Champion)
  • BYU (Mountain West Champion)
  • West Virginia (Big East at-large)

Bubble Teams:

  • Virginia Tech (10-2)
  • Hawaii (10-3)
  • Cal (9-3)
  • Texas (9-3)
  • Texas A&M (9-3)
  • Nebraska (9-4)
  • Rutgers (10-2)
  • Houston (10-3); even though they are C-USA champion, they got their 10th win in the championship game, NOT the regular season.
  • TCU (10-2)
  • Navy (9-3)
  • Central Michigan (9-4)

Of course, this format could bring some controversy of its own, but I doubt that these bubble teams would have a reasonable chance at winning four consecutive games for a national title (except maybe Texas, Rutgers and Va. Tech) If Texas had gone 10-2 they would have been in this bracket, but they went cold at the wrong time.

Now that we’ve assembled the teams that comprise a football championship bracket, let’s take a look at what such a bracket might look like:


Okay, so my bracket doesn’t look pretty, but by now this must be a concrete idea to you. Yeah… let it soak in for a minute.

Keep in mind that this is simply a visual aid, and this may or may not be how I would expect a 2006 NCAA football bracket to play out.

Just think: an entirely new month of madness to go with march! Now not one, not two, but thirteen bowls now have National Championship implications. And no one, I repeat, NO ONE will dispute a champion that emerges from this format.

I hope that the NCAA will take a look at this bracket and at least deeply consider the possibility of this playoff. If you think this format kicks a—, then please voice your support in the comment board. I must thank my sister, as she collaborated with me on this project and it could have been done without her input.