I’ve given a lot thought to fixing what seems to be broken in college football. We’ve lost much of the tradition of bowl tie-ins, the Magic of New Year’s Day and the opt-outs have made any bowl but the playoffs an exhibition.
Some say expand the playoffs, but there are inherent problems. Playoff expansion most likely means undeserving teams making it (2 or 3 loss conference champions). If bowls hosted quarterfinals, they’d be poorly attended, as fans simply couldn’t afford tickets to 3 playoff bowls (and fans would hedge their bets). Take this from someone who spent a lot of money on Conference championship tickets, semifinal tickets and trip and national championship tickets. I can’t imagine adding another bowl. Moreover, this would make the other bowls even less meaningful than now. If you play quarters at higher seeds, the losers of those games don’t get a bowl experience while a 7-5 team gets to have a week in sunny Florida. Something about that doesn’t seem right.
What we need is more data points. We need tradition back. We need more meaningful bowls. We don’t need more teams than 4, we just need to see every team we might consider play one more cross-conference game so we can determine who the 4 teams are.
The answer: Go back to traditional bowl tie-ins, have the committee set the matchups, give higher seeds lower ranked teams when possible, and make Jan. 1 must-see TV. Pick the 4 teams after the bowls. Play the semis at home stadiums.
The networks want to put only one of these big bowls at a time on New Year’s. The magic was all these games on at once. Stagger the starts between ABC and ESPN.
And here are 2020’s matchups: Rose - Ohio St vs Oregon Sugar- Bama vs. Cincy Cotton - Oklahoma vs. Florida Orange - Clemson vs. Georgia Fiesta - ND vs. Texas A&M Peach - North Carolina vs Iowa St.
2019’s matchups: Rose - Ohio St vs Oregon (Fields vs Herbert) Sugar - LSU vs Memphis (Memphis gets their shot) Cotton - Oklahoma vs Georgia (always try to match-up 4 vs 5 when possible) Orange - Clemson vs Baylor Fiesta - Penn St vs Utah Peach - Florida vs Wisconsin
You use Peach and Fiesta for those non-conf champion matchups you need to see. Some years, they will be very important when you’ve got a 1-loss non-division winner and a team like ND with 1 or zero losses. In 2020, If Bama, Ohio St and Clemson roll, you take the winner of the Fiesta. If Cincy wins, they get in, and maybe Fiesta winner is left out, because Bama still probably deserves a slot.
In 2020, You’ve got 10 teams and 5 bowls that have huge implications for the final 4.
After the bowls, you reseed the teams 1-4. Let 1 & 2 host a game on Jan. 16 (this is my preference and gives teams a real advantage to finishing #1 or #2.) Or, host semis on a turf field on a Friday and Saturday - Jan 15 & 16 and treat it like a Final 4 where you get tickets to both games. The draft deadline is. Jan 17. Give the 2 winners a waiver on the draft deadline. Play the champ game on Jan. 31 the weekend before the super bowl.
The NFL typically has 2 games the weekend of the 16th. That’s the rub. Pick up the phone and call Roger Goodell. Work something out. This is for the good of the sport. Play one College game on Friday night, and on Saturday an NFL game at 1 pm, the college semi at 4:30 and the other NFL game at 8.
This isn’t that complicated. We’ve got the bones of great tradition and the new excitement for the playoff to create something incredible.
We’d be so pumped for bowl season.
And January would be incredible.
*with NFL’s announcement of 17 games and pushing wildcard weekend back a week, considerations and changes would need to be made to the schedule.