The conference call last Friday with Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson and Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky outlined the details of the new 22-team football-only “super alliance” between the two conferences. One of the long-term goals of the partnership was to develop multiple divisions and form multi-tier playoff to determine a conference champion.
Turns out, Thompson wasn’t done formulating playoff scenarios, and he was thinking of one beyond his own conference. In an interview with the Arizona Republic, Thompson said he has proposed a 16-team playoff system that could generate somewhere in the vicinity of $700 million annually based on revenues from current TV contracts.
“What we are trying to do is offer an alternative with the current system. We have not been comfortable with the current system,” Thompson said. The Republic expands on the idea:
The Mountain West plan would make it easier for champions of all 11 Football Bowl Subdivison conferences to qualify for the post-season as long as a team is ranked among the top 30 in the country. The rest of the tournament would be filled with at-large selections, and a committee would determine the seeding. Teams not making the tournament could play in minor bowl games.
Different playoff rounds would be played at home stadiums of teams in the tournament and bowls now in the BCS. All bowls, including those not part of the BCS, would be able to bid to host the title game. The payouts would escalate for conferences as their teams advanced, with the potential for a conference to receive roughly $95 million if one of its teams plays for the championship.
The plan also calls for$100 million to be used for bonuses to conferences with high academic achievement and for enforcement and compliance of NCAA rules.
As it stands right now, each of the BCS conferences can make up to $28.4 million if two teams participate in BCS bowls; the BCS has reportedly looked into increasing the number of teams from a BCS conference that can participate in the bowls. The non-AQ schools will have to divvy up $26.4 million assuming a non-AQ school makes it to the BCS. Otherwise, the five outside conferences have to split up $13.2 million.
“This is an attempt to offer an alternative,” Thompson said. “If you are standing still, you are falling behind. We are trying to be creative.”
This, of course, is coming from the man who is part of a first-of-its-kind football alliance — at least at the highest level of Division 1 football — but the idea itself isn’t original, per se. Not that it matters. A 16-team playoff — hell, even a plus-one — would benefit the sport far more than the BCS ever could.
Thompson would know. His participation in Division 1-A’s first superconference was a reflex to protect his own conference from the cut-throat tendencie$ of realignment, which ha$ $ingle-handedly been one of the wor$t thing$ to happen to college football.