Super 6 League. Six-team playoff. No brainer.
While most playoff proponents aim for a multiple of 4 (with 4 being too few and 16 too many), there’s really no reason to lock yourself into that paradigm. Six could work itself out very nicely.
The regular season would still have a high premium on it with a more concise playoff (smaller than 8 or 16), and each conference wants to maintain its own value for TV deals. That’s still where the power of the Super 6 comes–each conference’s lucrative TV deal. Another advantage for the Super 6 is that the conference championship game almost becomes a pre-first round playoff game in and of itself, which means more TV dollars for that highly important game. Conference championship games will certainly occur where no winning team has a chance of breaking into the top 10 with a victory, but those will be a minority.
Two teams would receive first round byes (the two highest ranked Super 6 conference champions or Notre Dame/BYU if they are top 2). Some sort of poll would need to be maintained still (in place of the BCS poll) to determine this. By rewarding the top 2 teams, you still place the highest regard on regular season results and even “remind” fans of the good old BCS system which carried college football for nearly two decades. Then, you’d have four teams play a first round game two weeks after conference championship game weekend. Any top 10-ranked Super 6 champion makes the playoff. Any non-championship team (including Notre Dame and BYU) that ends up in the top 4 also automatically makes the playoff, thus trumping the lowest ranked Super 6 champion. No conference can have 3 teams in the playoffs. Once the four teams are determined, they are seeded 3 through 6 according to their place in the fianl poll. #6 travels to #3 and #5 travels to #4. (Unless those two teams are from the same conference. In that case, #5 at #3 and #6 at #4.)
The games are played two weeks after the final Saturday of the regular season to allow teams time for preparation, travel (road teams), and final exams. Plus, college football will be CENTER stage for those two weeks with the TV networks. Rather than a long lull (with just awards ceremonies and lesser bowls to fill in the gaps), college football will be revving up towards the Super 6 playoff.
This format not only prevents travel fatigue for fan bases (away teams won’t have many tickets anyway) but it also captures the one of college football greatest assets–home stadium charisma. The stadiums will fill up easily for the games, plus fan bases will still be eager to travel for their bowl holidays, a tradition worth keeping in college football (especially for us Northerners). The 16 bowl games continue on as normal. Some match-ups can be announced before the first round’s results; some will need to wait.
The two mid-December, first round winners are then pitted against #1 and #2 in the Super 6 College Football Semifinal (the NCAA has “Final Four” licensed but the Super 6 Semis has a nice ring to it). Number 1 will always take on number 4 and 2 takes on 3 unless either pairing pits conference foes (then it goes 1 vs. 3, 2 vs. 4). The matchups will rotate through the bowls of the highest seed. If the SEC has #1 or #2 in the playoffs every year, then the Sugar Bowl will be a Super 6 Semi host site every year. Only the Rose Bowl really has the scales tipped in its favor (with two locked-in conference alliances), but the Super 6 knows the value of that bowl. No one denies the drawing power of TV audiences to that site. The semifinals are played on January 4th or before so that the Super 6 Championship game can occur on the third Monday in January. The championship game will rotate among the current four BCS bowls, giving each of them a second major game every four years. Click here for scenarios borne from previous season’s results.