January 21, 2009
Today's completely crazy playoff bracket comes to us from Down Under, where reader Max from Melbourne wonders what college football's postseason would look like through the lens of Australian Rules Football (And if he's fudging the specifics of the Australian Rules format here, it's all the same to me: Crazy. Save your barney for the pitch, ya knocker).
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As an Australian, the major playoff system I'm used to is the one of the Australian Football League. I'm going to propose it for use with college football. The problems would be its length -- four weeks, to be exact, the same as the NFL -- and how to decide on which teams get in in the first place and their rankings. But I feel it would add a lot of tension to the regular season as well as the playoffs themselves.
Eight teams get in. The first week is:
No. 1 vs No. 4
No. 2 vs No. 3
No. 5 vs No. 8
No. 6 vs No. 7
5/8 and 6/7 are elimination games; the losing teams are out, the winners move on. The winners of 1/4 and 2/3 get a bye into Week Three, while the losers face the winners of the 5/8 and 6/7 games. The highest-ranked loser faces the lowest ranked winner, i.e. if Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6 win, it'd be No. 3 vs No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5 in Week Two. In this example, if seeds 3 and 4 were to win in Week Two, they'd then face seeds 1 and 2, respectively -- no rematches. Then the winners of those games would play each other to decide the national champion.
No. 4 Alabama at No. 1 Oklahoma
No. 3 Texas at No. 2 Florida
No. 8 Penn State at No. 5 USC
No. 7 Texas Tech at No. 6 Utah
If the home teams (higher seeds) were all to win, Penn State and Texas Tech would be eliminated, so we'd then have:
No. 6 Utah at No. 3 Texas
No. 5 USC at No. 4 Alabama
(No. 2 Florida and No. 1 Oklahoma have byes as first round winners)
Then, if the home teams won again, we'd have:
No. 3 Texas at No. 1 Oklahoma (Remember: No rematches from the first round)
No. 4 Alabama at No. 2 Florida
Then the national title game, of course.
There would be a lot of tension in the regular season, as there are a lot of spots that you want -- you're fighting to get into the top eight to get into the playoffs at all, 5th or 6th to host a game, 3rd or 4th to get a double chance (if you lose you're not out) and 1st or 2nd to host with a double chance.
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To recap, assuming the top seed won every game:
I'd make a provision (along the lines of the existing cap on two teams per conference, or an exception for finishing in the top 10/12 with a conference championship) that would swap Texas Tech for undefeated Boise State, and I'd play the semifinals at bowl sites. But essentially, this is the greatest hypothetical format I've ever seen in terms of both competitive fairness and general enthrallment, and I demand it be imported immediately for every American sport on all levels. It excludes stragglers, it gives significant advantages to finishing in the top two or four and forces the teams at the bottom to really prove their mettle -- there will be no "hot streak" champion here. This is grueling. The double elimination setup among the top four knocks me out. What a great idea.
Wait ... do they have government in Australia, too? Oh my god ...
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Do you have a crazy playoff bracket? Send it our way: sundaymorningqb-at-yah00, etc. Include your name and location, and the wackiest way possible to wind toward a true national champion. Remember: Visuals are always a plus.