Creating a College Football Playoff

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

My final project in my Sports Marketing MBA Class is on the potential business benefits of a playoff as opposed to the current system. Over the course of the next few weeks there may be a few posts digging into an analysis.

The Format

The format is an 8 team college playoff featuring the conference champion of the current 6 BCS conferences plus two wild card teams based on a ranking system similar to today's BCS rankings. When the 8 team field is set the matchups are made again based the ranking system. The top team plays the lowest team, the 2nd best plays the 2nd lowest, etc. So in the above image the SEC Winner would be the 1 seed and the Big East the 8 seed. The ACC Winner the 4 seed and the Wildcard the 5. In the first round the higher seeded team would host the matchup.

The next round begins to incorporate the history and legacies of the current BCS bowls. The winners of the four first round games would matchup in two of the BCS bowls. These would rotate on a yearly basis. The remaining two BCS games would be allowed to choose the 4 best teams in the country no longer in the playoffs. The remaining BCS games could potentially choose from losers of the first round or any other D1 college team.

Finally the National Championship game would be held at one of BCS Invitational Bowls stadium. Again this would be on a rotational basis similar to today's structure with each of the BCS bowl sites getting the title game once in a four year stretch.

Tournament Scheduling

Round 1 would be played the second saturday of December or the week following conference championship games. The 2nd round and invitational games would be played in a similar format to today. The Rose Bowl would continue to be played at 4 pm on January 1st regardless of whether it was a playoff or invitational game. The 8 pm slot on January 1st would be another playoff game. Then depending on the status of the Rose Bowl, the night of January 2nd will hold another game which would either be a playoff or Invitational Game. The last Invitational game would be held the night of the 3rd.

Finally, the National Title Game would still be played on the second thursday of the calendar year as it currently is.

Why It Works

So why does this playoff make sense and why would it make the NCAA more money? Here's a list of reasons why this system satisfies many needs for college football and is an enhancement over the current system.

1. The Inclusion of the Historical Bowls - First off it would keep all the tradition of the major bowl games. Each year the Rose Bowl would be held. Each year the Rose Bowl parade can be run. Each year the Rose Bowl trophy will be awarded. Just one year the Rose Bowl winner will get to play for the National Title and the other year it's a nice capper to a quality season.

By keeping the bowls in place, the powers that be will be satisfied. By incorporating the bowls the conferences will continue to exploit the luster, history, and following of these bowls.

2. Inclusion of All BCS Conferences - Including each conference champion in the playoffs again is a ploy to appease the powers that be. It gets every conference in the money each year and improves the likelihood that they would agree to this system.

3. Universal Importance in Conference Championship Games - In the current format each conference champion gets to go to the BCS. But only two get the chance to play for the National Championship. In this format, every conference championship game has the opportunity to play for the National title on the line. This would enhance viewing and importance of matchups that may in other circumstances be unappealing. Think Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest a few years ago.

4. Does Not Kill the Entire College Bowl Structure By spacing out the scheduling of the tournament the way it is, the current Bowl Structure of basically every college with a winning record playing in a bowl would continue. The current bowl system allows programs to potentially make extra cash but more importantly get the Universities name out there more and more. It's university advertising. No playoff is going to be agreed to if it eliminates the current bowl structure.

5. More Games Equals More Money - The addition of the first round games are the only additional games added to the schedule, but these games should be major money makers. They would be held on a day when college football is typically not played. They would be played at some of the greatest home stadiums in all of college football. They would often create matchups that we would not normally see in a college regular season. The ticket sales would be through the roof. The TV revenue generated would be extraordinary. More money is always a good thing for these universities.

6. Fans Want a Playoff - Fans clamor for a playoff all the time, this would only improve the popularity of the sport and increase revenues.

Possible Roadblocks

1. Game Overload - Say theoretically an SEC team goes out plays their full schedule, wins the SEC title game, than makes a run to the National Championship game. By the national championship game that SEC team would be playing in their 16th game. So essentially an NFL season. This may get some opposition from University presidents.

2. Non-BCS Conferences - Already the non-BCS conferences are going to congress and trying to get action on the unfair practices of the current BCS system. If this move to the playoff happenned and there was even more of the National Championship quest linked into the BCS, than they might raise their voice even more.

3. The Rose Bowl / Big Ten / Pac 10 - Yes the Rose Bowl isn't going away and would still be played, the difference is it would not be a yearly Big Ten vs. Pac 10 matchup. This is a cash cow for these conferences and a major reason they have been so unwilling to discuss the playoff system.

Feel free to throw any thoughts about scheduling format, benefits, roadblocks, etc in the comments.

Posted by Simon at 9:11 AM   Digg! submit to reddit BallHype: hype it up!


You can save non-BCS conferences by giving week conference champions (like Virginia Tech, this year) their trip to the Orange Bowl but allow teams like Utah and Boise State a shot at the title (and keep the playoff to 8 teams).

Here is the format of the BCS (the first round is played in early December like you said):

Benjamin said...
8:02 PM  

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