One reader found college's 'perfect' playoff system
Posted: Sunday November 6, 2005 8:34PM; Updated: Monday November 7, 2005 9:29AM
Think Michigan wants 107,501 flooding The Big House during finals week? Not a chance.
Asking someone like me, a status quotidian, to select the most viable college football playoff proposal is akin to asking an opponent of the death penalty the least cruel form of execution. The difference being, of course, that I have a ready answer for the latter: I'd go with the form from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, which is to be chased off a cliff by a stampede of beautiful, topless women.
That scenario being highly unlikely (Manhattan is virtually cliff-less), I set about combing through the 60 responses I received for my College Football Playoff Challenge, which pays $50 to the best proposal (thank God I bought Google last April ... and next year I'm buying a second share!). Fortunately, no one proposed marriage, though one senior at the University of Colorado did propose to become my unpaid intern when he graduates next May. It'll be like Kramerica Industries meets sports blogging.
Before we begin, and before I announce the winner, I'll remind you that the rules were deliberately vague. The only provision was that the season had to begin no earlier than Labor Day weekend and end no later than it currently does. I hoped that our contestants would, without my mentioning it, take note of the following:
To shorten the regular season to, say, 10 games would be to explain to dozens of athletic directors that they might have to lose one home game. (And, to everyone who says that the NCAA's decision to go to a 12th regular-season game next year while continuing to forgo a playoff is hypocritical, I agree with you.)
Do you have playoff games during the second and third Saturdays of December? If so, how and when are players supposed to study for their final exams?
Where are the games played? On campus? Would the administration at Michigan or Penn State welcome all the distraction a football playoff game would cause during finals week? Because this would not be -- in terms of media, visitors, etc. -- anything like a Division I-AA playoff game. And once Christmas break begins, can you see any reason to stage a game on campus?
So, then, would you want college football playoff games taking place at NFL stadiums? Do you think the current conference championship games come anywhere close to capturing the aura of a regular-season game at Death Valley or Camp Randall? Personally, I don't, but how would you feel about that?
If automatic bids are based on winning your conference, why would any school schedule a top 10 non-conference opponent? This isn't basketball. The better the opponent, the more likely you are to incur injuries.
I'd like to thank everyone who sent in a reply and to promise that I read every last one (I don't have an intern yet). Any suggestion that allowed for too much controversy was omitted, because eliminating as much controversy was the point of this exercise anyway, wasn't it? For example, Michael of Mesa, Ariz. suggested a plausible plus-one system, but argued that if there's one unbeaten and two one-loss teams, then we forgo the plus-one and just pick the better of the one-loss teams. Wouldn't the have-not in that scenario be a little upset?
Another potential hassle, for those who suggested a four-team playoff: What happens if, say, team 4 and team 5 both finish 11-1? Now, school 4's loss was actually to school 5, but it also had a tougher schedule, more quality wins and it lost earlier in the season. Do you think that school in the 5th position wouldn't be irate? Can't happen? Notre Dame beat Florida State in 1993, both ended up with one loss, and the Seminoles won the national title.