For want of a real national champion

Posted: Wednesday, January 05, 2011 by Travis Cody in

My disapproval of the current BCS process for determining a college football champion is well documented.  I see no need for 35 bowl games...yes, there are 35 bowl games, several of which have yet to be played as I post this.  

Do you know what you have to do to be eligible for a bowl invitation?  You have to win 6 out of 12 games.  That means that a team doesn't have to be outstanding to get invited to play in a post season game.  All they have to do is win half, or one more than half, of their games.  Yeah.  You can even have a losing record in your conference and get an invitation to a bowl game.  Look at this.

  • 14 of the 70 teams invited to the post season finished 6-6 for the season.  Of those, 6 had losing records and 3 finished at .500 in conference play.
  • 18 of the 70 teams invited to the post season finished 7-5 for the season.  Of those, 6 had losing records and 6 finished at .500 in conference play.
Those numbers tell me that there are too damn many bowl games, and that the bowl system itself is diluted and essentially meaningless.  I've even read that schools can lose money on the entire bowl game experience.  Schools have to purchase blocks of tickets at set prices, and if they can't sell them all then they eat the cost.  Plus they have to pay for travel and lodging...for the team, the coaches, the band, the cheerleaders, and support staff.

And that big payday?  The funds sometimes go to the conferences to be split between member schools.

So who is making all the money?  The bowl sponsors, that's who.

I want a playoff.  I want the chaff eliminated.  I want excellence rewarded with an opportunity to play for a meaningful national championship.  

There are several ways to do it.  This is the way I advocate.

Take the 11 conference champions and seed them.  Seeding teams is going to be subjective, but there are legitimate criteria that can be used, just like with the NCAA Tournament in basketball.  Then make 5 at large selections to fill out a 16 team bracket.  Again, this will be subjective but based on reasonable criteria.  

Then play the single elimination tournament.

Using the results from the 2010 regular season, this is how I would seed my tournament.

1 seed Auburn (13-0, SEC Champion)
16 seed Florida Int'l (6-6, Sun Belt Champion)

8 seed Stanford (11-1, Pac-10)
9 seed Ohio State (11-1, Big Ten)

5 seed Nevada (11-1, tied for WAC Title)
12 seed LSU (10-2, SEC)

4 seed Wisconsin (11-1, Big Ten Champion)
13 seed UCF (10-3, C-USA Champion)

6 seed Virginia Tech (11-2, ACC Champion)
11 seed Arkansas (10-2, SEC)

3 seed TCU (12-0, Mountain West Champion)
14 seed Connecticut (8-4, Big East Champion)

7 seed Oklahoma (11-2, Big 12 Champion)
10 seed Boise State (11-1, tied for WAC Title)

2 seed Oregon (12-0, Pac-10 Champion)
15 seed Miami OH (9-4, Mid-American Champion)

Don't fuss about Florida International.  They may have gone 0-4 against non-conference opponents, but they won the Sun Belt with a 6-2 record.

The opening round, quarter finals, and semi finals of my tournament would all be played on the three Saturdays in December prior to Christmas weekend, with the championship game played on New Year's Day.

Maybe my proposal isn't perfect.  

But can you say a system is better that sends TCU home with an unbeaten season and no shot at playing for a championship?  I'm not arguing against Auburn or Oregon.  You'll notice I have them at 1 and 2 seeds in my tournament bracket.

But there is TCU sitting at a 3 seed with a chance to play in my scenario, instead of odd man out in the current system. 

So what if those games were actually played in my tournament format?  Who knows what could happen?  I don't.

But I do think that the winner on New Year's day would be a real National Champion.


  1. Anonymous says:

    A 6 out of 12 record is by academic standards a failing grade. I'd rather watch the cream of the crop play it out on the gridiron than less than average teams in an advertiser bowl(now used as a corporate marketing tool).

    Travis, your system has merit makes much more sense. I know how excited I get about March Madness (and I don't normally follow college football or sports in general!). But when MM comes around I'm excited to see who wins the playoffs and eventually becomes champion.

    It's logical...

  1. Dream on my friend.
    As long as the sponsors and the host cities make money, they don't care who plays for what.
    Most of the kids don't's a free trip and a chance to skip some more classes.
    Personally, I think you could get it done with the top eight teams. But even if you used the top 65 like basketball, there will always be the debate about who got left out. Just sayin'.

  1. Jamie says:

    So are you going to watch Paul Abdul and Live To Dance? It strikes me as too copy cat, but await your expert input.

  1. Lois: That's how I would sum up my proposal...I wanted to reward merit without being a "major" conference snob. That's why all conferences get a bid for their champions.

    Driller: I thought about 8, but that leaves out 3 conference champs. I thought about 12, but that provides 1 at large bid. Then I thought that 16, which includes all conference champs and also allows for debate of the 5 at large spots. But I think the debate over the 5 spots maintains the competitive element in a non-conference schedule, because a school will have to have that weight on its resume to be considered if it doesn't win its conference. It still isn't perfect or even the best suggestion, but at least it's not 34 meaningless post season games plus 1 "championship" with invited guests.

    Jamie: We have the dance program recorded and will check it out. I doubt I'll review it, but we definitely plan to watch as long as its watchable.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    I think as long as sponsors are making money out of it there won't be any change. :(

  1. Seems like this year had some of the most ridiculous bowls of all. I do know that Arkansas certainly didn't deserve to be national champs.

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Bowl games have gotten out of hand, but I really stopped by to see if you won the lottery. One of the winning tickets was sold in WA. ;-) I love college football, but I agree with your comments.

  1. Absolutely spot on Travis.

    It makes no sense to me they way the BCS is allowing schools to be ranked and then tell them they can not be in the big dance.

    Boise began the season at #3...Both teams ahead of them had loses and Boise never got to #1..Why? Cause the dumb BCS did not think they deserved it

    Bury the whole thing and start again

  1. jennifer says:

    I agree that there are WAY too many Bowl games. GO DADDY BOWL?!!! It may be in my neck of the woods but sheesh!

    I don't understand enough about the bowl system to give an intelligent comment regarding the way it should be set up. YOU on the other hand seem to know what you are talking about. My Tide wouldn't have gotten their bowl game though and I have to say, I sure did enjoy their win!

    By the way, you may appreciate the image I used on my post today :)