Solving the playoff debate
Lloyd Carr (for it), Joe Tiller (against it), Steve Spurrier (for it) and Tommy Tuberville (for it) shared their thoughts on a college football playoff system this week, here's mine:
A 16-team playoff is the only fair way to determine a national champion. Give automatic bids to the winners of the six major conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC), then fill out the rest of the field with at-large selections, including the top-ranked mid-major team, using an NCAA Tournament-like selection committee.
First-round games would be played at home sites of the higher-seeded team the second week of December. Second-round games would be played the following Saturday at rotating regional sites that are current bowl destinations. One year it could be San Diego, Detroit, Charlotte and Orlando, the next San Antonio, Nashville, Tempe and Tampa Bay.
The semifinals will always be played Jan. 1, and a national championship game will follow the next that's Saturday seven or more days later. The final three games will rotate between the current BCS bowls, the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange, with the previous year's national championship site sitting out one season.
To accommodate the (slightly) longer season, the regular season would start the last week of August, include a bye, and require conference championship games to be played the weekend after Thanksgiving.
The Birkett Plan is designed to limit class time missed to little more than it is now; allow for proper media build-up and travel-making time for the fan; and incorporate some of college football's long-standing traditions (Jan. 1, the bowl games).
Tiller, the Purdue coach, wouldn't approve of the plan because it excludes too many bowl-eligible teams. He said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference Tuesday that he likes the current bowl system because of the opportunity (32 bowl games) it provides. If unimportant games are that important to the powers that be, they can still be played the week between Christmas and New Year's leading up to the semifinals. No one but the gamblers and the alumni care about those games anyway, and that wouldn't change under The Birkett Plan.
What would is how a national champion is determined. Take the responsibility away from the pollsters, the coaches and the computers and let the players hash it out. Sixteen teams is enough to include everyone that proved itself worthy over a 12-game schedule (and it can always be expanded), and it's enough so one loss suffered in a tough road environment won't ruin a season.