The Perfect Playoff Plan Is On The Table
Florida State WR Peter Warrick
Florida State WR Peter Warrick
Posted May 3, 2012

Four teams. Conference champs in the top six. They might have it right.

"Champions Only" Proposal

Finally, the right plan?

By Pete Fiutak
Follow Us ... #ColFootballNews

- How would it have worked? 2004 to 2011

Finally, the BCS powers-that-be might have hit on the solution that would be the best possible scenario and best compromise for all sides.

On the table is a plan for a four-team college football playoff of the top four conference champions that finish in the top six. If there aren't four conference champions in the top six, then the highest-ranked team in the top six would get in.

THIS would solve the problem.

THIS would be the perfect solution.

But because it makes way too much sense it probably won't happen.

It would not only preserve the integrity of the regular season, it would enhance it. In this scenario, the ratings and the money for the conference championship games would go through the roof. The bowl system could still be intact with the BCS bowls possibly rotating the playoff games.

The idea came forward this week from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who at the same time has been among the most forward-thinking of the college football head men over the years while also being an occasional killer for those who want a playoff. The ongoing desire to preserve the Big Ten-Pac-12 Rose Bowl alliance has been a major sticking point, but this time around that doesn't seem to be a problem.

Oddly enough, Delany's conference would've been hosed last year according to this plan, with No. 10 Wisconsin way out of the running, but that wouldn't have been a total disaster for the league. The Badgers would've gone to the Rose Bowl to play Stanford, and the Big Ten and Pac-12 would've been happy.

The best part about this plan is that it holds up historically with very few glitches. Assuming the rankings would stay within the BCS format, since 1998 there would've been a couple of years when anyone would've had a major complaint, but for the most part it would've worked.

If a team couldn't win the conference championship, it would've had no beef about not being able to play for the national title. If a team wasn't good enough to finish in the top six, or the top four, there was probably a reason.

So what's the downside?

Let's say there's a juggernaut of an SEC team that rolls through its slate and then slips in the title game against a 9-3 team from the other division. Of course, the argument will be that the star team wouldn't deserve to get into the tournament because it couldn't win its conference, but according to this plan the mediocre 10-3 team might get shut out of the fun if there are four other conference champions ranked higher. There's a legitimate risk here that one of the monster conferences won't get into a playoff, and the ACC and Big East aren't going to be fans of the plan, but it's one of the best ones floating out there right now.

Yes, commissioners, the "conference champions" plan is a good one. You just might have it right this time.

So how would the plan have worked if it was in place since the start of the BCS? Here's a year-by-year breakdown of how it might have gone.

No. 1 Tennessee (SEC)
No. 2 Florida State (ACC)
No. 3 Ohio State (Big Ten, ranked No. 4)
No. 4 UCLA (Pac-10, ranked No. 5)
Who Would've Had A Beef? 1) No. 6 Texas A&M, 2) No. 9 Wisconsin, 3) No. 3 Kansas State

Texas A&M would've fit the criteria of winning the conference title and finishing in the top six, but it would've been shut out. Wisconsin would've had reason to scream after winning a share of the Big Ten title and going on to win the Rose Bowl over UCLA, but it was ranked ninth and Ohio State was fourth. Kansas State wouldn't have had much of a complaint after gagging away the Big 12 title to Texas A&M, but it would've been grouchy that it finished third and didn't get in.

What Would've Happened? No. 1 Tennessee over No. 4 UCLA, No. 3 Ohio State over No. 2 Florida State, No. 3 Ohio State would've beaten No. 1 Tennessee for the national title.

No. 1 Florida State (ACC)
No. 2 Virginia Tech (Big East)
No. 3 Nebraska (Big 12)
No. 4 Alabama (SEC)
Who Would've Had A Beef? 1) No. 7 Wisconsin, 2) No. 12 Marshall

This one would've been cut-and-dry easy. Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Nebraska were all no-brainers – the Seminoles and Hokies were unbeaten. Alabama was a little bit more of a call considering it suffered two regular season losses, but the win over Florida in the SEC championship would've sealed the playoff spot. Wisconsin would've been really, really ticked off after winning a share of its second straight Big Ten title with nothing to show for it but the Rose Bowl. Unbeaten Marshall would've screamed and yelled about wanting a shot. No. 5 Tennessee would've been the highest-ranked team to miss out.

What Would've Happened? No. 1 Florida State over No. 4 Alabama, No. 3 Nebraska over No. 2 Virginia Tech, No. 1 Florida State would've beaten No. 3 Nebraska for the national title.

No. 1 Oklahoma (Big 12)
No. 2 Florida State (ACC)
No. 3 Miami (Big East)
No. 4 Washington (Pac-10)
Who Would've Had A Beef? 1) No. 6 Oregon State, 2) No. 7 Florida

A playoff would've solved a whopper of a problem. Florida State lost to Miami, but ended up playing Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl for the national title. Meanwhile, Washington beat Miami early in the season. Under this format it would've all played itself out on the field. SEC champion Florida would've had a little bit of an argument after going 10-2 and beating Auburn, but it would've clearly been the fifth-best conference champion in the mix. No. 6 Oregon State would've been mad that it won a share of the Pac-10 title and finished in the top six, but it lost to Washington.

What Would've Happened? No. 1 Oklahoma over No. 4 Washington, No. 3 Miami over No. 2 Florida State, No. 3 Miami would've beaten No. 1 Oklahoma for the national title.

No. 1 Miami (Big East)
No. 2 Nebraska (Big 12, but didn't win the Big 12 title)
No. 3 Colorado (Big 12, ranked No. 3)
No. 4 Oregon (Pac-10, ranked No. 4)
Who Would've Had A Beef? 1) No. 8 Illinois, 2) No. 10 Maryland

The SEC would've had a conniption. Florida was phenomenal, but it gagged away a shot at the national title by losing at home as a 17-point favorite to No. 6 Tennessee. After the shocking upset, the Vols had the puck on their stick with a chance to play for the national championship but gagged away the SEC championship to LSU. Florida went on to throttle Maryland in the Orange Bowl; LSU destroyed Big Ten champion Illinois in the Sugar; and Tennessee walloped Michigan in the Citrus. A realistic case could've been made that the SEC had three of the best teams in America and didn't get any of them in the playoff.

Meanwhile, Nebraska, who would've been left for dead after getting steamrolled over by Colorado at home, would've had new life after finishing fourth in the rankings and with Florida and Tennessee ranked fifth and sixth, respectively. Miami, Colorado, and Oregon would've been in without a thought, while the Huskers would've been in the dance despite not even winning their own division.

What Would've Happened? No. 1 Miami over No. 4 Oregon, No. 3 Colorado over No. 2 Nebraska, No. 1 Miami would've beaten No. 3 Colorado for the national championship.

No. 1 Miami (Big East)
No. 2 Ohio State (Big Ten)
No. 3 Georgia (SEC)
No. 4 Washington State (Pac-10, ranked No. 6
Who Would've Had A Beef? 1) No. 4 USC, 2) No. 7 Oklahoma, 3) No. 9 Notre Dame

This would've been a fun controversy. Miami, Ohio State, and Georgia were obvious, but USC finished the year ranked No. 4 and tied for the Pac-10 title. However, Washington State and Jason Gesser beat Carson Palmer and USC for its share of the title, It ended up going to the Rose Bowl on the tie-breaker, and ranked in the top six, it would've jumped past the Trojans into the playoffs. No. 7 Oklahoma would've had a case after winning the Big 12 title game with ease, while this was as close as Notre Dame had gotten since the start of the BCS. Iowa was ranked fifth in the final BCS polls.

What Would've Happened? No. 1 Miami over No. 4 Washington State, No. 3 Georgia over No. 2 Ohio State, No. 1 Miami would've won the national championship over No. 3 Georgia.

No. 1 Oklahoma (Big 12, but failed to win conference title)
No. 2 LSU (SEC)
No. 3 USC (Pac-10)
No. 4 Michigan (Big Ten)
Who Would've Had A Beef? 1) No. 7 Florida State, 2) No. 10 Kansas State, 3) No. 11 Miami University

This would've been the perfect year for the system. Oklahoma got destroyed by Kansas State in the Big 12 title game, but No. 5 Ohio State finished second in the Big Ten behind Michigan and No. 6 Texas didn't get to the Big 12 championship game. No. 7 Florida State would've gone ballistic after winning the ACC title and not getting in after being ranked No. 7, but if the system really had been in place, voters probably would've made sure the Noles finished in the top six after the way the Sooners were blown out by the Wildcats. Bill Snyder's team wouldn't have been even close to the playoffs ranked tenth, while Ben Roethlisberger's MU RedHawks would've been ticked that they didn't get a shot.

What Would've Happened? No. 1 Oklahoma over No. 4 Michigan, No. 3 USC over No. 2 LSU, No. 3 USC would've beaten No. 1 Oklahoma for the national championship.

- How would it have worked? 2004 to 2011