Posted: Sunday November 6, 2005 8:34PM; Updated: Monday November 7, 2005 9:29AM
Before I reveal the winner, a few notes on the most commonly voiced suggestions (with a wiseass comment or two thrown in occasionally):
Have a comment for John? Submit it here.
1. Number of schools: Most respondents suggested eight (six BCS conference teams plus two at-large) or 16 (11 BCS conference teams plus five at-large). Jeff from Hebron, Neb., however, thinks the tourney should include 64 teams and begin the first week of November. John from Atlanta, meanwhile, argues that "one cannot predetermine the number of teams involved". For example, if USC were the only unbeaten and there were six one-loss teams, he'd have the six one-loss teams play off for the right to play the Trojans (Now do you understand why I'm going gray, Mom?).
2. Conference champs: More than half the respondents agreed that the conference representative should be chosen at the discretion of the conference, no matter who wins the championship game. The idea of using Thanksgiving weekend to play all of the conference championship games was a popular one.
3. At-large schools: Notre Dame, say goodbye to independence. Most respondents said ND must pony up to a conference membership or kiss a national title goodbye. More than half the respondents said that at-large schools should be chosen "by a panel of experts" (because that wouldn't create any controversy). My proposed panel:
Ivan Maisel Stewart (or, in a pinch, Howie) Mandel Barbara Mandrell Mandrake the Magician Nelson Mandela Triumph the Insult Comic Dog ("The Conference USA champion is a good team ... for me to poop on!")
And the winner is ...
JACOB CHOREY of Sumeter, S.C.. Jacob's plan wasn't the most revolutionary, but it was pragmatic. He stayed within the time constraints, allowed for final exams, and kept it fairly simple. Jacob's plan:
All teams kick off the season Labor Day weekend and finish the Saturday preceding Thanksgiving, which allows for 11 games plus one bye week.
"Conference Championship Saturday" takes place on Thanksgiving Weekend
Eight teams qualify for the playoffs, with no automatic berths based on conference titles. The eight teams and their seedings are determined by human polls.
The top four seeds host a first-round playoff game on the first Saturday of December.
The four winners are given two weeks off for finals
Semis are played the Saturday before Christmas and are held, on a rotating basis, at two of the four current BCS bowl sites.
The championship game is held during prime time on New Year's Day at a third current BCS bowl site (also on a rotating basis).
As I said, Jacob's suggestion was certainly not the most elaborate or detailed I received (and I apologize if my eyes glazed over as I read through the responses), but what it did have working for it was feasibility. The biggest drawback is how you choose those eight teams.
Congratulations, Jacob. And thanks again to everybody who entered.
Eight In The Box
1. One forgotten factor of "the season is the playoff" system is the tightness factor come November. You saw it on Saturday. With each succeeding week it becomes that much harder to stay unbeaten because the target on your back grows that much larger. Ask Virginia Tech and UCLA how much more inspired its opponents (Miami and Arizona, respectively) played on Saturday than they might have if the Hokies and Bruins had entered the day, say, 5-3. You think Alabama didn't get Mississippi State's best game of the season in Starkville?
Running the table, despite what Texas and USC showed on Saturday, is not as easy as it looks. Perhaps the reason that the Longhorns and Trojans have made it look so simple is because they really are the two best teams in the country. But again, let's allow the season to play out before anyone pretends to know that with 100 percent certainty.
Meanwhile, what I (and maybe I alone) L-O-V-E about the present state of the game is how every second of the season matters. Penn State is one tick away from being unbeaten. LSU is one miserable fourth quarter versus an offensively offensive Tennessee squad from being undefeated. Notre Dame is two plays away from being unbeaten -- and likely one Matt Leinart sneak away from going to the Rose Bowl, should Alabama lose.
You may hate the system because the Nittany Lions, Tigers and Irish don't get a second chance. That's exactly why I love the system (and by the way, have you seen any letdown in effort from those three schools since being "eliminated"?).