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College Football Postseason Changes: A Plus-One Isn't Enough

If you do nothing else today, read Eagle in Atlanta's epic BCS rant following Alabama's 21-0 victory over LSU in the BCS National Championship game rematch. / Co-signed.

Because the regular season totally matters, right?

On a more positive note, looks like last night's Crimson Tide BCS coronation may have finally been the result that brings changes to the BCS.

"NEW ORLEANS - Change may be coming to college football's championship structure.

Eleven conference commissioners will meet here Tuesday, the day after LSU and Alabama tangle in the BCS national championship game at the Superdome, to open talks about the way the sport selects its champion.

Implement a plus-one, a four-team playoff where semifinal winners meet for a championship?

Have the BCS get out of the major bowl business and just select the finalist field, with a rating formula or selection committee?

Or no change at all."

My money is on the BCS creating a plus-one, four-team playoff model starting in 2014, with the four BCS bowl cities rotating hosting duties for the national semifinals and the championship game. The BCS may also extricate itself from the process of selecting the bowl participants for the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange Bowls, allowing those four bowls to go back to their traditional conference tie-ins.

Unfortunately, the move to a plus-one only further entrenches the BCS status quo and really does nothing to further the playoff cause. In a four-team plus-one this year, No. 4 Stanford would have made it over No. 5 Oregon, the Pac-12 champ that beat the Cardinal by three touchdowns. Controversy remains, not to mention there are far too few spots in a playoff for a sport with 120+ programs.

If the sports powers-that-be are really serious about changing the sport for the better, here are a few suggestions on what needs to change.

1. Prohibit games between I-A and I-AA opponents. The only thing your program's annual I-A vs. I-AA game is good for is an extra Saturday of tailgating and your improved disposition after you finish watching your program put the hurt on a hapless I-AA opponent. Sure, the I-A vs. I-AA game has produced a few memorable moments over the years -- Michigan vs. Appalachian State, Virginia Tech vs. James Madison, and all those Duke losses to Richmond -- but those outcomes are few and far between. These games would still technically be allowed, but a program would not get credit towards the postseason.

2. Teams from power conferences (the BCS AQ conferences of the future plus Army, Navy, BYU and Notre Dame) can only play 1 non-AQ a year. This will be the most controversial, but what this does is essentially creates another tier within Division I-A. Apply the rule about I-AA opponents (and bowl eligibility) above and apply it to games against a team from one of the non-BCS AQ conferences. Can a program continue to play more than one non-AQ team a year? Sure, but don't expect the outcome of that game to count towards qualifying for the postseason (see below).

3. All Division I-A conferences are required to have a conference championship game. This levels the playing field a bit and would require the Big 12 (currently at 10 teams) and the Big East (will be at 10 teams) to stage a championship game. This could be achieved one of two ways -- further expansion to 12 teams, or relaxing the requirement that a conference needs 12 teams (scaling back down to 10?).

4. Make an AQ decision about Conference USA / Mountain West. This is only related to point 2, but ultimately will not affect the playoff format. If Conference USA and the Mountain West do go through with an all-sports merger, a decision will have to be made on whether they are to be a BCS AQ conference (in today's terms) or a non-AQ conference. Adding a merged Conference USA-Mountain West to the ranks of the AQs would push the total number of programs to 91 (14 SEC + 14 ACC + 12 Big Ten + 12 Pac-12 + 10 Big 12 + 10 Big East + 4 independents + 15 C-USA-MWC).

5. Create a 6-team playoff. There are numerous playoff-format proposals out there, but six seems pretty reasonable to me. No. 4 plays No. 5 and No. 3 plays No. 6, both games on the campus of the higher seed the week following the conference championship games. The top two seeds receive first round byes, which rewards top seeds and serves to place a greater emphasis on regular season results.

6. National Semifinals and Championship Game. Just like the Final Four, allow host cities to put in bids to host both the National Semifinals and the Championship Game. Don't restrict the locations to the sites of the four current BCS bowl games.

7. Six-team playoff field determined by selection committee. Compare resumes using measures like SOS, overall record and hell, reuse the BCS rankings as an additional metric if you wanted. Same as it is in men's basketball. Fairly straight forward, right?

8. Eliminate automatic qualifying conferences. There shall be no automatic berths awarded to the playoff. The selection committee will select the top six programs in the country. The committee's decision will be made a bit easier, however, based on every I-A conference having a conference championship game, eliminating games against I-AA teams, limiting games against today's non-AQ conferences and encouraging more matchups between BCS AQ conference members. This also allows programs like Notre Dame to remain independent. The Irish's overall resume would be compared against every other program's resume. The downside here is that you could end up with 4 SEC programs, but I think there would be a sufficient weeding-out process if you limited the number of creampuffs in non-conference play and encouraged more games between AQ conference opponents (because who else are you gonna play in those 3 other games?).

9. Let the bowl system continue to operate business as usual. ESPN wants 35 bowl games? Cool. Allow them to operate as they do today. The only change will be removing the BCS selection process from the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange Bowls, allowing those bowls to return to their traditional conference tie-ins. The National Semifinals and National Championship Game would be scheduled much the way the BCSNCG is today -- on a separate night to maximize TV ratings.

10. Eliminate bowl ticket guarantees. Because I'm pretty sure they are quasi-illegal.