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The Great Playoff Debate: The Champions League

Today is the finale of The Great Playoff Debate. While not as significant as Lincoln-Douglas or Kennedy-Nixon, I'd like to think it was just as entertaining. Here's what we've already discussed.

1. 16-team playoff with seeding similar to the NCAA basketball tournament.

2. 12-team system similar to the NFL.

3. Elite Eleven bracket with each conference champion.

4. Super Six bracket with each BCS conference winner.

And now my personal favorite; The College Football Champions League. If you are familiar with the UEFA Champions League (what ESPN 2 shows on Wednesday afternoons), you know they begin with pool play before advancing to a knockout/playoff stage. Since that is the inspiration, here are the CFCL groups with their BCS rankings.

Group A
Group B
Group C
Group D
1 OSU
2 LSU
3 VT
4 OK
7 USC
8 KU
6 MIZZ
5 UGA
12 UF
11 ASU
10 HI
9 WVU

Each team will play one home game and one road game within the group. Also, to prevent conference matchups, USC was moved away from Arizona State. This is just like UEFA's groupings which separate teams who play in the same country. Each group winner advances to the national semifinals. Ties are broken by point differential.

Schedule:

Dec 8 Pool Play
Dec 15 Pool Play
Dec 22 Pool Play
Jan 1 Semifinals
Jan 8 Championship
USC @ UF
OSU @ USC
UF @ OSU
UGA vs. OSU
OSU vs. LSU
KU @ ASU
LSU @ KU
ASU @ LSU
x
x
MIZZ @ HI
VT @ MIZZ
HI @ VT
VT vs. LSU
x
UGA @ WVU
OK @ UGA
WVU @ OK
x
x

To be fair, there are several reasons why this system would never work.

1. If a team plays in a conference title game, then wins the Champions League title, they would play 17 games. That's probably too much.

2. As an example; Ohio State would have to play at USC, and then play the Gators in Columbus, just to go to a semifinal game. This is the group of death, even though OSU should have the easiest path as the top seed.

3. The stress on the teams, travel included, may make them reconsider a bowl invite which would be relegated to NIT-like status.

But, there are a few reasons why it is crazy enough to work.

1. Since there is no standard schedule formula, like the NFL, pool play means a true test for a national title contender.

2. The addition of a 13th game meant Western Kentucky vs. UF and Idaho vs. USC. Since these teams are unwilling or unable to play in regular season, this system will match them up. Also included are Oklahoma at Georgia and Hawaii at Va. Tech.

3. By putting only three games in neutral sites, the gate receipts stay with the teams. But by extending the season, the money made for the 12 schools would reach the stratosphere. And the season would end at the same time it does now.

Honestly, I could see this system happening. With the state of college football leaning towards parity, you will see a lot more surprise teams. In a system like this or a playoff, a Kansas or South Florida would be eliminated very quickly. Playoff systems would actually preserve some of the traditional powers.

At some point, the conferences will start moving towards a playoff, with or without the blessing of the bowls. The conferences know the amount of money that can be made from a playoff is unthinkable. Sure, they will talk about academics, but money talks. Besides, you can always buy more tutors with your winnings from your College Football Champions League Championship.