Playoff discussion in non-AQ Mailbag

Welcome to another Wednesday edition of the mailbag. I want to apologize for the wrong logo appearing on the Tulsa-Hawaii preview and three keys last week. Thanks to all who alerted me to the error. It has since been corrected. Hope everyone had a great holiday and has enjoyed bowl season. Keep those letters coming!

Now on to some questions:

Warren Bruhn in Portland, Ore., writes: I do not really understand why people who write about a playoff system for FBS are always referring to a 16-team playoff. I would prefer to see a playoff system for FBS start off with an eight-team format that uses the historic Rose Bowl pairing of Big Ten vs. Pac-10 on New Year's Day as a cornerstone. And the SEC could be the host team for the Sugar Bowl as another round one New Year's Day game. The Big 12 could be the host team for either the Fiesta Bowl or the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day as another round one game. And the Orange Bowl could be the other round one game. These four New Year's Day bowls could then feed into a couple of second round games a week or week and a half afterwards, followed by a final a couple of weeks after the second round games. That would not break the bowl system, and instead would feed off those old traditional bowls and use them. I'd rather see conference champions only in an eight-team playoff, from whichever eight conferences were the strongest that year. It's probably a good assumption that the Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC, and Big 12 would be among the strongest eight conferences in any given year, so traditional bowl matchups like that of the historic Rose Bowl could be preserved.

Andrea Adelson writes: Warren, I would take a plus-one to start in the slow moving direction of a playoff. I like some of the parts of your plan, and I do agree there is absolutely a way of preserving the bowl system in a playoff. Every game is meaningless now except for the national championship. So having this feeder system would be a benefit. The only problems: 1. Fan travel to these different locales would be difficult, and an argument against. I would prefer to have those bowl games hosting the semifinal and final, rotating in the "odd-man out" game every year. Also, how are we rating the top eight conferences every year? Is there a formula to determine that? What about the independents? Where do they fit in? If the Mountain West is one of the top eight conferences but its champ has one loss, you think they should get in over a one-loss team from the SEC? There will always be questions, but at least a playoff would give us more excitement and more answers than we have now.

Kyle Townsend in Adrian, Mich., writes: To be honest, why would you want to play Division I football if you know there is no possible way to play for a national championship? I'm not saying a full out playoff will solve everything. I like the quality of the season when one game could end your national title dreams but I don't like it when teams are excluded because of their name or conference.

Adelson writes: Well, the players all have dreams of making it to the NFL, so that is a huge factor despite the inequalities. You want to play at the highest level, and FBS allows you that opportunity. I agree that it is a shame most schools in this country are excluded from a national championship opportunity because of their name and/or conference, and I wish something could be done to fix that.

Roy in Hesperia, Calif., writes: I did notice that you seem to be in favor of a playoff system, as am I. Every time I hear someone speak of it, their claim is either 35 bowl games or a few playoff games between teams. Why? Why can't there be both? In my opinion, you could have an eight-team playoff that would include 7 conference champions (6 BCS plus the MWC as I think they should have one) and the eighth team would be the highest ranked, non-conference champion. Currently, all 8 teams are playing in BCS games which means they wouldn't play until January anyway. Every other bowl game gets scheduled as it is now. Thoughts?

Adelson writes: Very similar to the plan Warren has detailed. Now let me ask you this: What if the undefeated team is from the WAC or C-USA but you have given the auto bid to the Mountain West and the eighth team is the highest ranked nonconference champion? What then? As I said above, the bowl system can be kept alive. The bowls would have just as much meaning in a playoff as they do now.

Jacob Gearhart in San Diego writes: I was wondering why there even needed to be an Automatic Qualifying conference anyway. Isn't the BCS supposed to be about the best 2 teams playing each other? Also, why did Boise State finish lower than a 2 loss team in the BCS Ranking? I find the strength of schedule argument to be lacking in substance.

Adelson writes: The AQ conferences are all about dictating who gets into the BCS games and who gets the lion's share of the money. It is not about fairness and equity for all, but about the bigger conferences having control of the system. As for Boise State, the Broncos finished lower because their poll ranking and average computer rankings were lower than two-loss teams Arkansas and Oklahoma.