I got to give CBS Sportsline credit for creativity -- and for giving us a nice topic for today's blog. They went beyond President elect Barack Obama's plan of pushing for an eight-team playoff and just decided to go March Madness on us in December. And if you are a Canes fan, you like it. Because your team still has a chance at winning the national title.
CBS tabbed UM as the 13th seed in its Northeast bracket and set to take on Dave Wannstedt's Pittsburgh Panthers (check out the brackets when you get a chance). Although a tournament like this will never happen, I know many of you would be happy if there was some sort of playoff. So, what is acceptable in your mind? Eight teams? Six teams? 64? And how would you go about inviting those teams to the tournament?
The fundamental problem I see in college football isn't that there are too many great teams deserving of an opportunity to play in a playoff format. The flaw is the conference championship games, which make the entire system of who gets the championship unfair. It makes the regular season meaningless and gives the teams that do have a conference championship game a huge edge over ones that don't like the Pac 10, Big Ten and Big East. Is it a coincidence that the SEC and Big 12 (who have conference championship games) have had at least one team among their conferences vault into the title game after conference title games in six straight seasons? No.
Why do there have to be divisions in a conference? Take the SEC as an example this season. If you take out the division setup in the SEC out (and you rotate your usual eight-game in conference schedule), Alabama emerges as the clear-cut conference champion with a perfect record. Florida lost at home to an SEC opponent. Why did the Gators get an extra shot (and basically an automatic bid) into the national title game by beating a team in a game that didn't need to be played? Texas and Texas Tech weren't afforded that same opportunity despite the fact it finished with the same exact record as Oklahoma.
Here's my plan: Eliminate all divisions in a conference, require all FBS schools to play an 11 game schedule and have at least one of its non-conference games required to be played against a BCS school and leave two weeks in December to decide who plays in the big game. While you can't create a 64-team playoff, you can certainly do something realistic with an eight-team playoff (all based on the computer rankings). In three weekends of must-see TV football, you'd emerge with a real champion. The teams that lose on the first two weeks would still be healthy enough to go to another bowl game three weeks later. Here's what my system (which only takes the Top 2 rated teams from a conference) would have looked like this year:
> Dec. 6 - In Atlanta - Quarters: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 9 Boise State, Noon; No. 4 Florida vs. No. 5 USC, 7 p.m. In Kansas City: No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Penn State, 3:30 p.m. and No. 3 Texas vs. No. 6 Utah, 10 p.m.
> Dec. 13 - In Tampa - Semifinals: Highest remaining seed vs. Lowest remaining seed, 3:30 p.m.; two middle teams, 8 p.m.
> Jan. 8 - At Orange Bowl - National Championship