NFL playoffs always make me long for college football to get with the program. These days, even the criticisms are silly. Three main arguments generally come up: 1) not feasible to coordinate a tournament, 2) if it is feasible. it can’t be large, 3) even if it was feasible and large, it would disrupt students too much. These are all purely ridiculous based on once simple fact: playoffs works at every other level of college football. In fact, Division I Football Championship has a twenty team bracket. We have proof that it works in smaller, lower budget programs. Nothing prevents Division 1 FBS from changing; it simply doesn’t want to change.
The shift requires a change in thinking. The primary source of incomes for bowl games are at the stadium: ticket sales, concessions, etc. The NFL? Television. In fact, you can run an NFL team almost completely on the television revenue alone (see: Green Bay Packers). Even if you are worried about filling stadiums, following the NFL method of having higher ranked teams host in their own stadium would mean there is a pre-built audiences for those games.
As for format, I think it should be strictly the 11 conference champions, with a single at-large to make it an even 12. The at-large is to accommodate the independents and/or the strongest conference. This gives Notre Dame, Army, and Navy a chance. It also prevents a single instance of one team being harmed by being in the strongest conference. This year it would help a 12-1 Stanford make it into the tournament. For everyone else, the directive is simple: win your conference.
Then we run a playoff NFL style. Seed them via a BSC-style poll or a March Madness style committee. The top four teams get the first week off. As said above, the higher ranked team hosts the game in their stadium. Start games the first weekend of December. Take a week off for Christmas, and play the championship on the traditional most important college football day: New Years Day. For this game, I would put it at pre-set neutral location, like the Rose Bowl, and rotate the location around the country. Maybe even an outdoor, cold weather championship game, if only to one-up the warm weather, dome-loving NFL.
Think it can’t work, that people won’t care? Why do they care so much about pro sports? While did 106 million people watch last year’s Super Bowl, while only 27 million watch the BSC championship? Playoffs.
-That is all.