For years, college football fans have begged for a more fair method of crowning a national champion. Rarely does the season end as cleanly as this year, with Notre Dame as the sole undefeated team and Georgia and Alabama ranked second and third and facing off in the SEC Championship to determine who will face Notre Dame. The 2009 season closed with five undefeated teams with Alabama and Texas earning championship appearances over TCU, Cincinnati, and Boise State. Not since 2005 have the championship teams been the only two to finish undefeated. More often than not, a host of one loss teams crowd the top of the standings to vie for one or both spots.
What would a college football playoff look like? How about this:
An 18-team playoff with automatic bids to each of the 11 conference champions: ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt, and the WAC.
Leftover at-large bids will be awarded based on BCS rankings. An independent team can earn an at-large bid if it finishes ranked in the top 16, whereas others would normally be bumped in favor of conference champions.
Where co-champions are recognized, the team highest-ranked in the BCS gets the automatic bid (I’m looking at you, Big East).
Overall seeding would be by BCS ranking: the teams in contention for C-USA and the Sun Belt are ranked 40-43 and would be the lowest two teams (unless Wisconsin or Georgia Tech would win their championship games).
A play-in round would resemble the new basketball format. The bottom two conference champions would face each other for the #16 seed, while the bottom two at-large teams would compete and advance to whichever seed that would be.
Play-in games and the round of 16 would be hosted by the higher-ranked team. The championship game can retain the BCS moniker with the site determined in the same manner it is currently. The semifinals and quarterfinal matchups featuring the two highest-ranked teams would be rotated between the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and Fiesta Bowl. Two additional bowls would be elevated to host the other quarterfinals. Let them bid on annual or term contracts to earn those games.
Under this format, Nebraska, Florida State and UCLA would each need to win their upcoming conference championship to avoid being bumped and stay in the field.
Check back after the games are played to see how the field would look and comment on what kind of playoff format you would favor.