An 8-Team Playoff Proposal

Here are the basics:

1. Use a system similar to the current BCS system, although the coaches poll probably needs to be removed from the equation.
2. If a conference champion is in the top 12 then they are in the playoffs. The remaining spots are filled by the highest ranked teams.
3. The higher ranked team would be the host team in the first round.
4. The semifinals and final matches would be played at neutral sites.

Applying those four rules to the past six years, here is what the seeding would have looked like:


1. LSU 13-0
2. Alabama 11-1
3. OSU 11-1
4. Stanford 11-1
5. Oregon 11-1
6. Arkansas 10-2
7. Boise St. 11-1
8. Wisconsin 11-1

Teams pushed out of top 8: Kansas St.


1. Auburn 13-0
2. Oregon 12-0
3. TCU 12-0
4. Stanford 11-1
5. Wisconsin 11-1
6. Ohio St. 11-1
7. Oklahoma 11-2
8. Arkansas 10-2

Teams pushed out of top 8: None


1. Alabama 13-0
2. Texas 13-0
3. Cincinnati 12-0
4. TCU 12-0
5. Boise St. 13-0
6. Oregon 10-2
7. Ohio St. 10-2
8. Georgia Tech 11-2

Teams pushed out of top 8: #5 Florida 12-1


1. Oklahoma 12-1
2. Florida 12-1
3. Texas 11-1
4. Alabama 12-1
5. USC 11-1
6. Utah 12-0
7. Penn St. 11-1
8. Cincinnati 11-2

Teams pushed out of top 8: #7 Texas Tech 11-1


1. Ohio St. 11-1
2. LSU 11-2
3. Va. Tech 11-2
4. Oklahoma 11-2
5. Georgia 10-2
6. USC 10-2
7. West Virginia 10-2
8. Hawaii 12-0

Teams pushed out of top 8: #6 Missouri & #8 Kansas


1. Ohio St. 12-0
2. Florida 12-1
3. Michigan 11-1
4. LSU 10-2
5. Louisville 11-1
6. Oklahoma 11-2
7. USC 10-2
8. Boise St. 12-0

Teams pushed out of top 8: #6 Wisconsin

Conference Totals:

ACC - 2
B1G - 8
Big East - 4
Big 12 - 7
Pac 12 - 8
SEC - 12
Non-BCS - 7

Home team conference totals:

ACC - 1
B1G - 3
Big East - 1
Big 12 - 5
Pac 12 - 3
SEC - 8
Non-BCS - 2

Some observations:

1. The top four BCS teams every year were also the top 4 seeded teams and host teams in the first round. It would take eight conference champions all being in the top 12 to bump a top 4 at large team out. The closest that got to happening was #5 Florida in 2009 being bumped.
2. The strength of the SEC is apparent as is the weakness of both the ACC and the Big East. Notre Dame's decline is also apparent as it would not have made the playoffs in the past 6 years.
3. Out of 7 non-BCS teams to make it, only TCU would have been a first round host team but they would have done it twice.
4. A 3-loss team would not have made the cut. The highest ranked 2-loss team was LSU in 2007 but every team below it except Hawaii also had two losses.
5. Only one non-BCS team made the cut without an undefeated record (Boise 2012).
6. A total of 24 different teams would have made the playoffs in the past 6 years. Here is a breakdown of the totals from each conference:
ACC - 2
B1G - 4
Big East - 3
Big 12 - 3
Pac 12 - 3
SEC - 5
Non-BCS - 4

Why it could work:
1. The scheduling could be easily implemented. Conference championship games usually happen on the first Saturday in December. Here is how this year's schedule could work:
Quarter games - December 15, 2012. There would be a two-week gap after the conference championships to allow players time to take their finals and fans to make travel arrangements and purchase tickets.
Semifinal games - January 1, 2012. This time the gap would be a little longer so that the games could be played on New Year's Day. It would also allow fans time to purchase tickets (hello, Christmas presents!) and make travel arrangements. In the meantime there would be plenty of bowl games to watch.
Championship game - January 8, 2012. In theory, this game could take place anytime after this date but in the past few years the game has always fallen right around this date.
2. It rewards tough scheduling by giving a first round home game to the higher ranked team. In the past six years, only 4 times would a team outside of the SEC, B1G Big 12 or Pac-12 have been a host team and only once were they not undefeated.
3. The regular season is still relevant. The threshold seems to be 2 losses, as noted earlier, and if you have a weaker schedule then its probably 1 or 0 losses depending on your conference affiliation. And a single loss, even for a team that appears playoff bound, could cost them home field advantage in the first round. Expanding the playoffs any further would probably dilute the regular season because 3 loss teams would be showing up in the playoffs.
4. It is not a perfect solution but it would certainly appease a lot of the concerns that the conferences have. The big four are pretty much guaranteed at least one spot every year in the playoffs and have a good shot at one of their teams hosting a first round game. The Big East and ACC know they have a shot at getting a team in as long as that team is a conference champion and has 2 losses or fewer. The remaining smaller conferences know that, with an undefeated season, they have a good chance of a team make it in as well.

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