Perfect College Football Playoff System – 2011 Version

A few years ago I came up with the perfect college football playoff system here.  With the Boise State head coach’s recent complaints, I thought it might be timely to provide this system again, and what it would look like if applied to the 2011 season.  I think it is also timely since there has been another reason that the BCS system is ruining college football – the breadkdown of lesser conferences.  For reasons that should be fairly obvious, the perfect college football playoff system would help to preserve weaker conferences, and may in fact strengthen them over time.  But first, a quick review of the system:

– Conference champions from every conference get an automatic entry (11 teams).

– The top five teams, after removing conference champions also get a place (5 teams), making 16 teams in all.

– Teams will be seated 1-16, with 1 playing 16 and so forth.  The higher seated team will host the first round game.

– All subsequent rounds will be neutral site bowl games, with pairings selected by a bowl committee.

For this year, the automatic spots for conference champions would go to:

Clemson – ACC
West Virginia – Big East
Wisconsin – Big 10
Oklahoma State – Big 12
Southern Missisippi – CUSA
Northern Illinois – MAC
Oregon – PAC 12
Arkansas State – Sun Belt
Louisiana Tech – WAC

and the at-large spots would go to:

Boise State
Kansas State

Making a few assumptions, the pairings would be:

LSU/La Tech
Kansas State/Wisconsin
Oregon/Southern Miss.
Stanford/West Virginia
Oklahoma State/Norther Illimois
Boise State/TCU
Alabama/Arkansas State

Some interesting things to note – Neither Michigan nor Virginia Tech would even make this field, in spite of getting BCS bowl games this year!!  The Big 10 would not get a single home game, and unless they pulled off a road upset, would not have any teams in the final 8.  BYU would have to be one of the top 5 teams after conference champions are removed, to make the field.

Possible second round bowl games would be:

Rose bowl – Stanford/Oregon (Since no Big 10 team would advance)
Orange bowl – Arkansa/Alabama
Sugar bowl – Kansas State/Oklahoma State
Fiesta bowl – LSU/Boise State

Discuss if you like. (Note.  Updates added for accuracy after original post).

10 Responses to “Perfect College Football Playoff System – 2011 Version”

  1. 1 CJ December 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I like the 16 team playoff format and would be more than happy to see it.

    I actually prefer a plus-one (essentially a four team playoff) where the top 4 conference champions are seeded. This year that would be:

    LSU vs Wisconsin
    Oklahoma vs Oregon

    The conference champions left out would be:

    Va Tech
    West Virginia
    S. Miss
    N. Illinois
    Arkansas St
    La Tech

  2. 2 Eric Nielson December 7, 2011 at 7:11 pm


    Your suggestion would intentionally leave out more than half of all teams from any chance at ever competing for a national championship.

  3. 3 Last Lemming December 7, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    I’m still a fan of this idea, but I would add a regional twist. Have four regions, like the basketball tournament, and assign the conference champions to fixed regions as shown below. Then, assign the at-large teams out of region so that there are no intraconference matchups until the final 4.

    East: ACC, Big East, and two at-large (Alabama & Boise)
    South: SEC, C-USA, Sun Belt, and one at-large (Kansas State)
    Midwest: (Big 10, Big 12, Mid-American, and one at-large (Stanford)
    West: Pac-12, Mtn West, WAC, and one at-large (Arkansas)

    Also, Clemson trounced Virginia Tech in the ACC championship, so it is Tech that would (properly) be left out.

  4. 4 Eric Nielson December 8, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Clemson was thee ACC champ? Sorry I missed that one. Interesting idea on the regional first round. Mostly i want to reward the higher ranked teams with a home game.

  5. 5 Last Lemming December 8, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Another possibility would be for non-BCS schools to get together and stage their own tournament. An eight-team field consisting of TCU, Boise, Houston, So Miss, La Tech, No Ill, Ark St, and BYU would attract a fair amount of attention, I think. Of course with three of those teams going to BCS conferences soon, it’s probably too late for this idea.

  6. 6 Eric Nielson December 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Is this not already done with the FCS schools (formerly division 1AA)? I am afraid that is this is not done at the top, it will not be very relevant.

  7. 7 Stephen M (Ethesis) December 8, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Ahh, you need to add one more round to make it the top 32 teams … Then you don’t leave people out.

  8. 8 Eric Nielson December 9, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Nobody is left out. If anyone can win their conference, they are in. Your chance at a national championship begins with winning your conference.

  9. 9 Nell Hansen December 12, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    One question: why does winning your conference auto-magically qualify you to play for the National Championship? Arkansas State’s 10-2 was an awesome season for them and the Sun Belt Conference, which was won not too long ago (2002 or ’03) by a 5-6 North Texas team. Would Louisville’s 7-5 Big East championship (if West Virginia or Cincinnati lost on the last game of the season, this would have been the case) be worthy of an auto-bid?

    I would propose that the top 6, 7, or 8 conference championship get seeds #1-whichever, with the remaining seeds going to the top teams remaining, swaps to prevent first-round rematches from the season. This way we aren’t watching LSU thrash Louisiana Tech, they would have to take on the eighth-best conference non-champion (Michigan if the BCS is to be believed).

    Michigan @ LSU
    Baylor @ Oregon
    South Carolina @ Oklahoma State
    Kansas State @ Wisconsin
    Boise State @ Clemson
    Arkansas @ TCU (likely played in Dallas Cowboys Stadium)
    Stanford @ Southern Miss (likely played in the Superdome)
    Alabama @ West Virginia

    This looks like a better slate of game than almost all of the bowl games.

  10. 10 Eric Nielson December 13, 2011 at 7:43 am

    The answers – it does not qualify you for the championship. It qualifies you to play in the first round of the playoff system, usually on the road. One does not know how good some of these teams with less tradition might be in a given year. LTech just might give LSU a good game some year. But it does seem like every year there is a Boise State, TCU, Utah, and because this is a Mormon blog, BYU that put together a great year but have no shot. This system gives these teams a chance.

    I agree that what you are proposing would be better than the current syste, but it would still leave teams with less tradition out.

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