Craig Thompson Presents A 16-Team Playoff To Replace The BCS

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson seems to always be full of ideas, and his latest is proposing a 16-team playoff to the NCAA. This is the second playoff proposal by Thompson has presented, the most recent proposal -- that was rejected in 2009 -- involved 10 teams with an eight-team playoff. The ninth and 10th teams would play in a BCS game while the other eight would partake in a playoff. Back during the past summer Thompson was rallying support from the non-BCS schools to help make a change once the current BCS deal expires after the 2014 bowl season and create a playoff.

Now, Thompson has a new plan now: A 16-team playoff and his projections are that a playoff could generate $700 million compared to the $182 million the BCS currently paid out in 2010. Thompson sent this plan out back in September and it will be discussed at a BCS meeting next month. The Arizona Republic -- who is running an exposé on the BCS -- interviewed Thompson who discussed his playoff proposal:

"What we are trying to do is offer an alternative with the current system. We have not been comfortable with the current system," said Thompson, who based his financial projections on current television contracts with various conferences.

The Mountain West plan would make it easier for champions of all 11 Football Bowl Subdivison conferences to qualify for the post-season as long as a team is ranked among the top 30 in the country. The rest of the tournament would be filled with at-large selections, and a committee would determine the seeding. Teams not making the tournament could play in minor bowl games.


The idea of a cutoff line is interesting and is actually a smart idea, because it would limit the amount of bad teams in a playoff and open it up to more deserving teams. However, that may not go over well with the Sun Belt, WAC or MAC who would struggle to consistently have teams in the top 30. I still favor allowing all conference champions in, because a team to be eligible in the top 30 to participate is still exclusionary to other league champions. The cut off was included to placate the current BCS leagues so that they may be able to get in a few more bids if some leagues don't qualify. Thompson also mentioned that a committee would seed the teams.

Lets assume the BCS formula is in place to determine who is a top-30 team and look at who would make the cut for a playoff under Thompson's plan. First off, here is BCS standings that includes all teams that received points in the BCS. There is no mention of independent schools and how they are considered, it may very well be that they finish in the top-30.

Automatic qualifiers (higher ranked teams from same league are considered champion at this time):

No. 1 LSU Tigers
No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners
No. 5 Boise St. Broncos
No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers
No. 7 Clemson Tigers
No. 8 Stanford Cardinal
No. 15 West Virginia Mountaineers
No. 19 Houston Cougars

At-large berths:

No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide
No. 4 Oklahoma St. Cowboys
No. 9 Arkansas Razorbacks
No. 10 Oregon Ducks
No. 11 Kansas St. Wildcats
No. 12 Virginia Tech Hokies
No. 13 Nebraska Cornhuskers
No. 14 South Carolina Gamecocks

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are at No. 28, but there is no criteria mentioned for independents. If it just takes being a top-30 Notre Dame would be in over South Carolina.

On the fringe would be the Sun Belt's Louisiana-Laffayatte Ragin' Cajuns is No. 32 and the Temple Owls from the MAC are No. 42.

The odds of this getting approved are extremely low since the BCS leagues are vehemently against this because they are so in love with out dated tradition, but the biggest reason is to keep a larger percentage of money to themselves. A way this may get traction is if the Wisconsin Badgers and Stanford Cardinal get shut out of the title game if both are undefeated once the season ends. Right now it sure looks that way since they are all behind the undefeated LSU Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide, Oklahoma St. Cowboys and Oklahoma Sooners.

Two of those four can finish undefeated and will stay ahead of Wisconsin and Stanford. Also consider if Clemson somehow stays undefeated then there would be five teams from BCS leagues who are undefeated. That scenario could facilitate change, but we have seen more than three BCS teams go undefeated and get shut out; most notably the 2004 Auburn Tigers and the 2010 Cincinnati Bearcats.

This plan will have naysayers who compare it to the NCAA tournament and Butlers poor showing last year against UConn. The fear must be that if Houston makes it to the championship game and then gets blown out, however Houston would most likely be seeded anywhere from No. 14 - No. 16 and it would be quite difficult to get past LSU, Alabama or Oklahoma in the first game.

We will now get to wait and see how quickly this gets diminished next month at the BCS meetings and the only hope is that all these teams go undefeated and get shut out. Then there might be some support for some type of playoff, it may not be this particular proposal but it could lead to serious conversations.

So, what do you think of this proposal?

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