Sunday, November 25, 2007

Henderson fixes the BCS (again)

Well, they didn't listen to me four years ago (yikes, has that much time passed?). But since the powers that determine these things didn't act when they had the chance back then, I'll take another stab at it.

Version 2.0 of the plan is an eight-team playoff incorporating the existing BCS bowls -- Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta -- and three other games played in Atlanta, Jacksonville, and San Diego. (If you must, continue to call the games the Peach, Gator and Holiday. Whatever.) This way you have seven sites that are either indoors or in locations that aren't likely to be ruined by bad weather.

The pecking order of the games would rotate annually, so each city would host the national championship game once every seven years. The first round would be played on consecutive nights on or about Christmas weekend, with no games on Christmas Day. Most years, two games would be played on Saturday. In 2007, as an example, the first round would be played on Friday the 21st, Saturday the 22nd and Sunday the 23rd.

The winners would advance to the second round, played on New Year's Day or New Year's Eve if NYD is on a Sunday. (No conflicts with the NFL.) The championship game would be played at least five days after the semifinals on a Saturday or Sunday night.

The genius of this plan, Wile E., is that the six existing BCS conferences would continue to send their champions to the tournament. So the regular season would retain its importance. And I'd allow a Utah-rule concession to the non-BCS conferences. Like the current system, any non-BCS team that finishes the regular season in the top 12 automatically gets in. The trade-off is that the two at-large bids could come from the same conference, so one conference could place three teams in the playoffs. Depending on what happens this weekend, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma could all reach this year's playoffs.

The teams would be seeded, so #8 would play #1, etc. And the traditional conference/bowl pairings would be honored whenever possible. Seedings would trump traditional bowl pairings, however. So if USC wins the Pac 10 it might not play Ohio State in the Rose Bowl if, say, OSU were ranked #1; OSU would play the #8 team, whoever that was.

Here's how it would work this season (assuming no upsets this week -- yes, that's a major assumption): #1 Missouri would host Hawaii (currently ranked #12) in the Fiesta Bowl. #2 West Virginia would host USC (Pac 10 champs) in the Orange Bowl. #3 Ohio State would host Virginia Tech (ACC champs and #6) in the Rose Bowl. And LSU (SEC champs but #5 in the rankings) would host Georgia (#4) in the Sugar Bowl. Conference champions still get home field advantage, for what it's worth.

Next week, the winners would play in the semifinals -- for the sake of argument, in Atlanta and Jacksonville. Those winners would play for the non-mythical National Championship in San Diego on Sunday, Jan. 6.

So what's not to like? Teams would still play on New Year's Day, even if no playoff games are that day -- the Cotton Bowl and the Capital One Bowl would keep their dates.

OK, under this plan, #7 Kansas gets screwed by the Utah rule. And the pairings could change dramatically if we have an upset or two this weekend.

As they say, that's why they play the games.

Complicated enough for ya? Just think what would happen if West Virginia and Missouri lose on Saturday. Ohio State and Georgia -- a team that didn't win its conference title -- for the National Championship? Oh, the humanity.