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BCS playoffs - a radical solution

Before the "glow" wears off from the BCS title game, I just have to throw in my idea for playoff system for major college football. It's radically different from most proposals, because we should be asking less, not more, of the student/athletes/gladiators who make this game of college football what it is.

Here's the short version of my plan for the 2012 season: Start the season on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1, and give everyone 11 weeks to play 10 games  - that's right, 10, the way it used to be. The season ends Nov. 12, and the playoff pairings are set the next day for a round of 16 that begins on Thanksgiving Day and ends that Saturday. Truly a football feast - eight meaningful games in three days, most of them at existing bowl sites.

So why the 11-day gap? Schools and fans need to make travel arrangements, and a mere four days is asking too much of everyone. Winners would advance to quarterfinals two weeks later, on Dec. 7-8, again at existing bowl locations. 

To preserve tradition, the national semifinals would be held at the Rose and Orange Bowls, with the national title game set for two weeks later at the Sugar or Fiesta Bowl locations. When it's all done, the finalists would have played 14 games - just what most of the top BCS teams played this past season. And the vast majority of schools would have played fewer, but the revenue shortfall from that would be made up by the profit from 15 playoff games.

AND NOW FOR THE DETAILS - If you've gotten this far, then you have questions, and I'll try to address them:

1) Who gets in? Sixteen teams, mostly big schools, but including other conference champs who crack the BCS top 25.

2) How are the brackets set up? East and West, using a blend of rankings and proximity to bowl sites as the NCAA does for basketball.

Just for fun and relevance, let's take the Week 15 BCS standings from last year, toss out #5  Oregon and replace the Ducks with Washington State. The #5 Cougs would open with #12 Baylor in San Francisco (remember, these games need to be played at bowl sites that are easily accessible for fans), and this would also be a great site.

If they win, the Cougs would go on a quarterfinal in the Fiesta Bowl On Dec. 7 (that's when conference championships are still being contested under the current system, folks) against either #4 Stanford or #13 Michigan. The winner of that game goes to the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, facing the other West survivor (#1 LSU, #7 Boise State, #10 Wisconsin or #15 Houston). The West champion would then play the East winner in New Orleans two weeks later.

3) What about existing bowls that aren't included in this? Would a playoff really make the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl any less relevant than it is now? The other bowls could still operate, and they would offer better teams than they get now.

Any other questions? Want the long version? Drop me a line.

Jim Allen
Jim Allen joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently covers K-12 education and women's basketball.

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