Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mountain West Conference NCAA Football Playoff Proposal

Last month the Mountain West Conference placed a formal proposal on the table to create an eight team playoff to eventually crown the national champion in NCAA Division I (OK - FBS) football.

The proposal is for a five game (10 team) playoff - except the winner of the 9th and 10th ranked teams would not be eligible to continue on in the playoff. If you think this fifth game sounds like a normal college bowl game - I agree. So really we have an eight team playoff with the winners advancing ultimately to a national championship game, which seems to be a reasonable proposal. Under the Mountain West proposal, each conference champion can automatically qualify for one of the ten playoff spots if over a two season period the conference has played a minimum of twenty games against the six current automatically qualifying conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10, SEC and Mountain West), and has a minimum winning percentage of 0.400 in those games - which all six conference currently meet. The big change would be the addition of the Mountain West as an automatic qualifier and the elimination of the Big East - which under the current system is a BCS automatic qualifer. (Thanks to Bill E. for suggesting I clarify this sentence).

To determine who plays who, the teams would be ranked by a twelve member selection committee who are representatives of the eleven BSC conferences and Notre Dame. The last part of the proposal mentions that revenues will be distributed equitably once all revenues are determined.

Yet as the USA Today article states, "... BSC officials and a majority of university presidents nationwide, particularly in the Rose Bowl affliated Big 10 and Pacific 10 conferences have steadfastly opposed any playoff". Why?

Looking at the recent five year (2003/04 -2007/08) revenue distribution summary for the Bowl Championship Series for the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange and BSC national championship game in 2007/08 we see that the total revenue from those four bowls was $24 million. For just the Rose Bowl the payout was almost $33.5 million. In terms of conference distributions, the Big 10 lead or was tied for the highest payout for four of the five years, and was second in terms of total payout for the other year (2004/05).

The difference between the highest payout and second is about $4 million, which is likely the drop in the Big 10's distribution for no longer having a guarantee to play in the Rose Bowl. It seem to me that money is a very good possibility as to why a FBS college playoff system is opposed by some.

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