Welcome to The Alabama Take’s week-long coverage leading to the kickoff of college football, some of our writers’ favorite time of the year!
Both college and professional football definitely need overhauls (like CTE and Urban Meyer) that I don’t purpose to have fix for. What I am here to do in the week leading up to the best sporting season of the year is to assert two things: (1) the college football product that’s put on the field each week between Labor Day and just after New Year’s provides the exact kind of entertainment that it should, and (2) a multiple-step, though simple, tweak would make it even more incredible for countless years to come.
It mainly boils down to the organization of the playoffs and some regular season games. Each year, especially around November and December, the talking heads get on television to blast (oh so loudly) how the College Football Playoffs either need eight teams, sixteen teams, or the preposterous sixty-four teams. A few of those ladies and gentlemen are almost correct. Here’s what should happen:
- Bring Back the BCS Ranking. I never understood why the NCAA went away from this numbers system when implementing the playoff. Just like in the final few weeks of the CFB season in the years of the BCS, the (mostly) computerized system should be used again. Yes, the BCS ranking had a few problems, especially in its early stages; those kinks were worked out. In the final iterations, the BCS rankings got the top two teams correct time and time again. Why go away from it? Its algorithm did well. The suspense of its unveiling was nail-biting. It took away what has become a discussion of the human bias while still keeping the a bit of an “eye test” as a component. Get the BCS ranking back (or at least its algorithm; call it whatever you want) and this is the beginning. You’ll see why.
- Change the College Football Playoffs to Eight Teams. That’s simple enough. But what teams should go? The top eight from the newly reinstated BCS rankings? Almost, but not quite.
- All Power Five Conference Champs Are In. Conference championships need to mean something big. There should be major excitement in both playing in those games and winning them. You win your conference, you are in the College Football Playoffs. No questions asked. But that leaves three more teams to fill the remaining slots. Who should they be?
- The Highest Ranked Three Teams That Are Not Conference Champs Are In. This solves a few problems, much like was seen in 2017 when Alabama didn’t win their conference but were definitely one of the top teams (and therefore should’ve rightfully have been in the playoffs). This also keeps the rankings, and therefore each of the games, important. If you’re a team and didn’t get to the conference championship, all hope is not lost. The new BCS rankings could work in your favor if you’re still playing at a high level because perhaps there’s a team below you that somehow won their conference championship. All games are important. This also opens the door to those cute, little “fly in the ointment” teams (ahem, UCF) we hear about each year. So just because you aren’t in a Power 5 Conference doesn’t mean that your team is out, either. Get ranked in the top 8 and you have your chance to unseat a top team in the playoffs. Those teams become the underdog and similar to the sixteenth-ranked teams that many cheer in March Madness.
- The Regular Season Is Ten Games. Yup. This one may sting, but we’re still talking about young men who should also be going to class some of the time. Playoff teams will be getting extra time on the field for both games and for practice. They shouldn’t be asked to play twelve to fifteen games per season. Drop two of cupcake teams. This means that Alabama wouldn’t be playing Arkansas State or the Citadel this year (they could still keep LA-Lafayette, maybe) and Auburn wouldn’t be scheduling the likes of Alabama State or Liberty (but could possibly still play Southern Miss). Those games are jokes; we all know it. It does create an issue that it’s an elimination of types of games that families tend to go to when they can’t afford the other, larger conference games. I wish there was a way to fix that one, but I don’t see it happening with these proposals.
- All Teams Must Play Nine Conference Games. When feasible, there should be even more conference games for every team, especially in conferences like the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, and PAC-12. These are tough conferences and all games are worth watching. It really helps shake out what team needs to be in each conference championship in December.
- The Committee Sets the Bowl Games. Those folks need something to do? Okay. They’ll set the bowl games. A human eye, unlike maybe a BCS ranking system, can see entertaining match-ups better. And lastly…
- The First Round of the Playoffs is a Home Game. Here’s another important way that the new BCS rankings play a role: whatever four teams are ranked the highest will have their first round of the playoff be a home game. It’s more incentive for the teams to play well throughout the year and for the respective cities to cheer them on. (That tax money for an extra home game is an amazing thing.) Plus, it doesn’t convolute the bowl games so that more of those have to be created and fans have to fork up all kinds of cash for the insane expenses. It also maintains the current idea that the biggest and grandest of the bowl games still serve as two of the playoff games.
All of that combined isn’t a foolproof or perfect set of solutions, but it does allow for an eight-team playoff system that’s not far-fetched (with the exception, perhaps, of every team dropping two games per year; money talks quite loudly).
I’d also like to see players who sign to a school have to stay there a mandatory two, or even three, years before transferring and for any student who is convicted of a violent crime to be kicked out of all D1 schools. Do all that, and my football dreams are fulfilled.
Oh, and legalize gambling.