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Here’s how we can have a college football playoff without destroying the bowl system

FILE - In this Nov. 5 2011 file phoAlabamrunning back Trent Richards(3) runs upfield as LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo

FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2011, file photo, Alabama running back Trent Richardson (3) runs upfield as LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo (49) defends during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Richardson, a Heisman finalist, has run for 1,583 yards and a school-record 20 touchdowns this season. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)

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Updated: January 17, 2012 8:25AM



A college football playoff doesn’t have to be the end of the bowl world as we know it.

Yes, there are lots of pros and cons. But I’ve been intrigued for years by an eight-team playoff that advances four New Year’s Day bowl winners into a Final Four and championship game.

Three more games. Two more weeks.

That’s been my motto since the Bowl Coalition and Alliance started evolving the national-championship process. And it would work this year, without rocking the world of bowls.

It goes like this:

SUGAR BOWL: No. 1 LSU (SEC) vs. No. 8 Clemson (ACC)

ROSE BOWL: No. 4 Oregon (Pac-12) vs. No. 5 Wisconsin (Big Ten)

FIESTA BOWL: No. 3. Oklahoma State (Big 12) vs. No. 6 Stanford (at-large)

ORANGE BOWL: No. 2 Alabama (at-large) vs. No. 7 Boise State (at-large)

The Big East doesn’t get a slot because it doesn’t meet the minimum standard. Clemson is hovering on that border, too. If there are requirements for Notre Dame and at-large teams, there’s no reason they can’t apply to league champions.

With a little jiggering of the seeds, which is routine in the NCAA basketball tournament, three bowls (the Rose, Fiesta and Sugar) get their preferred conference matchups. And the Orange Bowl gets Alabama, an attractive anchor.

The Final Four is played the second week in January, when the BCS championship game is already being played. For location, bid it out to the New Year’s Day hosts, plus Dallas, San Diego and anybody else who can put on a big-time football game.

Same deal with the championship game. It might be interesting to hold it the weekend before the Super Bowl in the same city.

I know all my anti-playoff friends are shrieking about the sanctity of the regular season and the horrible problems this would pose for fans, who might stay away from the New Year’s Day games to wait for the Final Four/championship.

Those are good questions. The regular-season issue doesn’t bother me, because you still have to play your way into the playoff. In addition, teams might be tempted to beef up their non-conference scheduling.

As for the fans-traveling question, people would still go to the New Year’s Day games because they fall on the holiday, when school and jobs permit. The hardcore fans would make choices or keep going; that’s what they do in the hallowed NCAA tournament. And if Oregon and LSU are meeting in, say, Dallas, for a Final Four showdown, locals will buy plenty of tickets.

I know a playoff’s not going to happen anytime soon. And that doesn’t make my blood boil like some people, because the bowls are cool.

I just wanted to put this out there because I don’t think it’s the cataclysmic threat to the bowl system that terrifies some people.

And this year, it would be interesting to see how the defenses of LSU and Alabama would fare against high-powered offenses.



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