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Your Choice: The People's Playoffs


By Stewart Mandel, CNNSI.com

 
Break up the BCS!
CNNSI.com's John Donovan
The wrinkles of a new system

Your Choice Survey
Building a better playoff

Your Choice Poll
Vote now on the games

 
You wanted a playoff. We delivered.

Hope you like rematches.

Based on users' answers to our recent Your Choice survey, CNNSI.com devised a hypothetical playoff based on the 2000 season. The result: An eight-team bash in which all four first-round games are rematches of the regular season, including an unprecedented third meeting between Oklahoma and Kansas State.

Now, you get to determine how it would play out by voting for the winners of each game, starting with today's first round.

The format of CNNSI.com's playoff follows almost exactly the desires of the survey respondents. It should be noted, though, that overcoming the logistics were every bit as tricky as every conference commissioner and bowl official could imagine.

First, there was the matter of picking and seeding teams. Fifty-one percent of you opted for a panel of actual humans over the BCS computer or Top 25 polls. So a five-person panel, including CNNSI.com's Ivan Maisel and Trev Alberts, was asked to rank its top eight teams based on similar criteria used by the NCAA basketball selection committee -- quality wins, head-to-head competition, how teams finished the season, etc.

The bigger issue came in the fact that 54 percent of you wanted all playoff games to be played at traditional bowl sites. That the four BCS bowls -- Orange, Rose, Sugar, Fiesta -- would be included was a given. But what of the other three playoff games? How do you pick just three for this escalated prestige out of the 21 others available? Are they the same every year? Or perhaps we just double-up at three of the BCS sites.

The solution was to pick three bowls to host first-round games on an individual basis each season, much the way the NCAA awards Final Four sites or the NFL Super Bowl sites, based on location, prestige and potential payout. Those chosen for 2000: the Cotton in Dallas, the Citrus in Orlando and the Peach in Atlanta. The four BCS games would rotate each season between hosting first round, semifinal or championship games. Teams would be assigned to the bowls based on geographic considerations.

Finally, there was the timing issue. An overwhelming 70 percent opted for the playoff to run through mid-January, or as long as it takes. So, due to the inclusion of the bowls in this system, our tournament begins with the traditional New Year's weekend and concludes on Jan. 20, during the weekend between the NFL conference championships and Super Bowl.

As for the TV networks, we assumed they'd want to tie in programming with the already-scheduled pro playoff games. So kickoff is moved up from 8 p.m. to 7 p.m. when following NFL games.

Without further ado, your 2000-01 Division I-A playoff pairings:

Cotton Bowl -- Sunday, Dec. 31, 7 p.m. ET
No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Kansas State
Poll Winner: Oklahoma

Rose Bowl -- Monday, Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m. ET
No. 4 Washington vs. No. 5 Oregon State
Poll Winner: Oregon State

Citrus Bowl -- Monday, Jan. 1, 8 p.m. ET
No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 6 Florida
Poll Winner: Florida State

Peach Bowl -- Tuesday, Jan. 2, 8 p.m. ET
No. 2 Miami vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech
Poll Winner: Miami

Fiesta Bowl -- Saturday, Jan. 6, 7 p.m. ET
Oklahoma vs. Oregon State
Poll Winner: Oklahoma

Sugar Bowl -- Sunday, Jan. 7, 7 p.m. ET
Florida State vs. Miami
Poll Winner: Florida State

Orange Bowl -- Saturday, Jan. 20, 8 p.m. ET
National championship

Your Choice: The People's Playoffs
No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Florida State, Orange Bowl

We needed a playoff for this? Funny, this fictional pairing seems eerily similar to the one set up by the "evil" BCS. In any case, the extra week off before the championship should help Florida State, which has just endured two emotional rematches against Florida and Miami. Too bad it's not long enough for Snoop Minnis to re-enroll. On this, the ultimate stage, expect Chris Weinke to shine, regardless of who he has at receiver. OU's Josh Heupel, meanwhile, will be severely tested by Florida State's imposing front seven, led by Jamal Reynolds and freshman Darnell Dockett. By all indications, this will be a close one; good thing FSU has finally found a kicker in Brett Cimorelli.

 
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