What If There Was A Playoff? ... 1999
Florida State WR Peter Warrick
Florida State WR Peter Warrick
Posted Jan 14, 2012

With all the fun every year with March Madness, it's a shame college football isn't able to come up with a similar way to come up with a champion. What if there was an eight team college football playoff in 1999? What likely would've happened? CFN tries to figure out how a playoff would've gone.

If There Was A Playoff ... 1999

What If There Was A Playoff ...
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It's that time of year ... the second guessing season.

What might happen if Oklahoma State got its shot? How would TCU have done if it got its shot at Auburn at the end of the 2010 season? How about if Boise State got a chance at Alabama in 2009 or if several other BCS fiascos were decided on the field?.

Forget basketball's gimmicky post-season, where a seventh best team in a conference gets a shot to play for the national title, rendering the regular season relatively meaningless. CFN has created the best of all possible worlds for a playoff to make sure the regular season still holds the weight it does now, if not more, while providing the solution everyone wants (outside of Bill Hancock, the college presidents, the yellow-jacket bowl kids, and 99% of the coaches). Here’s the plan …

Take the six BCS conference champions and give them automatic bids. Take the highest ranked non-BCS league champion (Notre Dame included), and give it an automatic bid. The eighth and final slot would be a Wild Card, which would go to the top ranked team in the BCS that isn’t already in.

We'd have to keep this in the land of the real with the geographic and economic concerns in mind by rewarding the top four teams with a first round home game - fan bases aren't going to travel to three neutral field sites if their team goes to the national championship.

The seeds wouldn’t necessarily go according to BCS ranking, again, with the idea to put teams close to the right region to make sure the opposing fans can get there as easily as possible.

The Final Four games would be held in Pasadena and New Orleans, and the national title would rotate sites like it does now. Meanwhile the rest of the bowl system would be kept in place. If you watched the Liberty Bowl before, you’d still watch it if there's  an eight team playoff.

So what would’ve likely happened had the CFN system been in place since the BCS was in place in 1999? Here’s the best guess with the seedings and the results.

Final BCS Ranking In Parentheses

ACC – Florida State (1)
Big East – Virginia Tech (2)
Big Ten – Wisconsin (7)
Big 12 – Nebraska (3)
Pac 10 – Stanford (NR)
SEC – Alabama (4)
Non-BCS – Marshall (13)
Wild Card – Tennessee (5)

Bubble Busted: Kansas State (7), Michigan (8)

The automatic spots would’ve been cut and dry, but there would’ve been a big debate about the Wild Card. Kansas State would’ve had a beef after going 10-1 in the regular season and tied with Nebraska for the Big 12 South title. Tennessee, who finished higher in the final BCS rankings, lost to great Florida and Arkansas teams but beat Georgia and came up with a great 21-7 win over eventual SEC champion Alabama in Alabama. Kansas State simply didn’t have the big résumé with a nice win at Texas the only victory of note.

First Round Matchups

No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 5 Wisconsin
No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 8 Marshall
No. 3 Nebraska vs. No. 6 Tennessee
No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 7 Stanford

Matchup Analysis:
Alabama’s Shaun Alexander vs. Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne would’ve made for a fantastic first round matchup in Indianapolis. The 1998 Badger team was better, but the defense would’ve been just strong enough to win a classic. Chad Pennington wouldn’t have been enough for Marshall to overcome the Florida State firepower. Nebraska beat Tennessee 31-21 in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl. Troy Walters and Stanford had a special year to get to the Rose Bowl, but Michael Vick would’ve had few problems with the Cardinal defense. 

Projected Final Four

Rose Bowl – No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Nebraska
Sugar Bowl – No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 5 Wisconsin

Matchup Analysis:
Nebraska had the defensive front to keep Vick bottled up, but the offense would’ve had problems with the fantastic Hokie D line. It would’ve been a tight battle, but the Huskers were better. Florida State would’ve obliterated the Badgers. Wisconsin was good, but it wouldn’t have had any answer for the Seminiole passing game.

Projected National Championship:
No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 3 Nebraska
Projected National Champion: No. 1 Florida State

Matchup Analysis:
What beats the option? Speed on the defensive front seven. Florida State’s front wall would’ve kept Eric Crouch and the Nebraska option under wraps, while Peter Warrick and Laveranues Coles would’ve come up with just enough big plays to pull away. Nebraska had issues holding on to the ball all season long, and FSU would’ve taken advantage of a few big fumble recoveries.

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