Originally Posted by MWM
CE, I've heard the money argument. I just don't think it's a good one. I have a hard time believing the NCAA couldn't make just as much from a playoff system.
I'm the biggest proponent you'll find of an NCAA D1 playoff, but there are some practical reasons why a full "Playoff" couldn't work beyond a very limited scope for football.
For starters, there is an issue with number of games and time. The NCAA basketball tournament has the luxary of being able to play rounds in rapid succession due to the quick-turnaround that basketball teams can make playing games. With football, the given minimum is 1 week off between each round. Thus, even the simple 6 team "playoff" I outlined in the previous reply would take 3 weeks to complete. Given that conference championships such as the SEC Championship aren't played until the first week in December, the minimum start date for such a tournament would be 2nd week of December. Increasing the number of teams to 16 pushes the national title game to New Years Day.
A total of 15 games get played in this scenario, not enough to satisfy the various bowl constitutients, 13 of whom would be left hanging in this arrangement. 40 schools are left out of the postseason under this arrangement, meaning 40 less payouts. No non BCS school would qualify for the postseason, assuming the playoffs started today (Using AP Polling: 3 PAC-10, 1 Big 12, 4 ACC, 4 SEC, 3 Big 10, and Notre Dame), meaning no mid-major conference would recieve a postseason payout...unless you got the power confrences to agree to a post-season revenue sharing split, and I wish you good luck on that! A team would play a maximum of 4 games, meaning it would have to travel fans for at least 3 games (assuming the national title game will sell out regardless of who is playing)
Pushing the number of teams to 32 increases the number of games to 31, mandating the creation of 3 additional bowl games to sell tickets for. Suddenly a school is responsible for playing a maximum of 5 games, and travelling fans to 5 of those games. The national championship game is now played into the first week in January, starting to encroach on NFL playoff time, but no biggee, the current setup does anyway right now. Still, that's 5 more weeks of practice for the kids, 5 more games on the college schedule, pushing a lot of teams to 16-17 games. 5 more weeks of travel, with 5 more bills for airfare, hotel, and all related expenditures for the universities. We're starting to do a little better with including Mid-Majors in this setup, with TCU (Mountain West) at #20, Fresno Sate (WAC) at #22, and Toledo (MAC) at #31, but still nowhere near the amount of post-season exposure for these conferences (C-USA and Sun Belt get no postseason contenders at all). So, while the bowls are all happy in terms of number of games, the conferences are most certainly not, with no 1 mid-major getting more than 1 team and some conferences being shut out of postseason play entirely. And, beyond that, you've still eliminated over 20 schools from postseason play -- 20 payouts that don't get made. Even further, that's 20 schools that don't get a national television game to advertise their program, aid recruiting and, in some cases, even aid the admissions department for the university (Fun Fact: Freshman applications went up by 11% the year after Michael Vick took Va Tech to the national title game -- more applications means greater selectivity and higher academic profile).
And, would the bowls really be happy with this setup? Boston College at #13 will surely have a good fan turnout for week 1 of the post-season at whatever site they're seeded to play, but does anyone see their fans continuing to travel if they win and go on to week 2 or week 3? Amazing as a Cinderalla story like Toledo or TCU might be, does anyone see them bringing any fans to a first game, much less a second game? Does anyone see a city coming out to support a game at a neutral site between two teams they have no ties to if no fans are travelling in week 2? Getting people out for March Madness to sell a couple thousand basketball tickets is one thing...but getting a couple 10,000 seats for football at $40+ a pop, that's something else entirely. The obvious answer to is to just play the games at home stadiums for teams, but then you're back to the bowls and cities getting upset for losing their games.
Of course there are ways that a playoff makes more money...TV revenue would undoubtedly be higher; look at the astronomical price that CBS pays for exclusive rights to the Mens Basketball Tournament. The NCAA could bid the rounds out to ABC, NBC, CBS and ESPN; somebody would pay to be the exclusive home of college football championships. Maybe, in time, the popularity of this playoff would increase to the point that each of the games in each of the rounds is a hot ticket in the various bowl cities -- and, at the same time, the TV contract becomes a "name your own price" deal for the NCAA and it is able to pay out to the confrences even more money than they get under the current setup. Maybe December turns into a winter "March Madness," with people filling out brackets, entering office pools, and playing hookey from work to watch games...
But those are Maybes...and atheletic directors and bowl coordinators don't like "maybe" when they've got cold, hard cash in hand right now and a system that they believe is working well because it makes them money. Fans want to see a playoff to find out who wins the national title. Analysts want a playoff to find out who wins the national title. Players want a playoff to find out who wins the national title. The people who make the decisions, ADs, Presidents, Bowl Types, etc. -- they don't really care who wins a national title so much as they care about making ends meet in the athletic department and selling tickets to a football game at a neutral site.
Its money...its uncertainty...its inertia...
Its not going to happen.