Here's my plan:
- The playoffs will include the Conference Champions from each of the six major conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, Pac-10) plus the top two BCS teams not already in the playoffs (At-Large berths). This will create an 8-team tournament. Although I believe that a 12 or 16 team bracket would be more appropriate, we don't have to start there. Every major sports playoff system (NCAAB, CWS, MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, etc.) has evolved over time, so I presume that this will be no different. But just like its predecessors, it too will have to lay a foundation on which to build.
- All Div1-A schools must have their regular season schedule completed by the end of November. (11 games in 13 weeks - very realistic). This will leave the first weekend of Dec open for conf title games that apply.
- The 8 teams will be seeded based on their current rankings and the top seeded teams would have home field advantage the 1st two rounds. The championship game will be played at a neutral bowl site just like the BCS title game now.
- Game revenues can be equitably split to fairly compensate the visiting teams for the additional travel expenses. "Equitable" does not have to be defined as 50/50, and it can be based on mileage, size of stadium, ticket prices, etc. The actual formula isn't nearly as important as the concept at this point.
- TV revenues would be handled differently as there will now be 6 additional highly anticipated matchups with national implications pitting the top 8 against each other... the ratings will be astronomical. The conferences will benefit greatly from this I'm sure.
- The first weekend would narrow the teams to the "Final Four" and the following weekend would determine our Title Game. And all of this would happen before Christmas, before the BCS Bowl Season and before Winter break. You only need two Saturdays to go from 8 to 4 to 2. At most there would be a 2 week break and then the playoffs then another 2 week layoff.
- The 4 teams that did not win their first round games are free to commit to their bowl alliances immediately following the the first weekend of playoffs (even though most of them will already be arranged based on W/L scenarios).
- Everyone takes the next week or two off for the holidays depending on the number of Saturdays in December while they prepare for their bowl games just as they always have.
- The "Final Four" teams will already be committed to the "Championship" games - a preselected, rotating bowl game and a title game.
- The beauty of it is that it will only add one game to the existing schedule for all teams but the final four. So 8 teams will play an extra game, and then 4 will play one more - that's it.
- This will not disrupt the bowl season, overshadow the bowl significance or interfere with the bowl alliances. Plus, this will only add flavor to the bowls as the 6 playoff teams not in the title game will be playing each other in the BCS bowl games after losing their playoff game, so the bowls will even further represent the apex of their season - a chance to recover from the playoff loss to go out a winner.
This playoff scenario is fundamental at best, and admittedly does not cover every loose end as this post is already long enough, but what it does do is honor the top 8 teams without sacrificing the tradition and history of the bowl games with a 2 weekend playoff to narrow the title game to a true champion won on the field, not in the polls.
The one advantage of this system is that it allows the playoffs to be mostly complete before the bowls. The team's bowl game has always been and should always be the final game of the season.
Truly, the best of both worlds! Thoughts?