Introduction to the Enhanced Bowl Season
Many individuals have called for a "playoff" to determine
the national champion of college football's Football Bowl Subdivision
(formerly DI-A). An NFL-style playoff would help achieve that
lone goal, but the costs to college football's traditions would be too
damaging (see flaws of frequently mentioned
playoff proposals in the Why section).
Any postseason must preserve those core characteristics that make
college football an exceptional product.
The Enhanced Bowl Season (EBS) is a proposed alternative postseason that
recognizes the uniqueness of the college football product, including
its riveting regular season and special bowl-based postseason. Unlike
many other postseason proposals, the EBS considers the needs
of all parties: student-athletes, schools, BCS conferences, non-BCS
conferences, bowl games and their communities, sponsors, television
networks (and other media), and fans. These parties have different,
though often overlapping, equally valid goals for a postseason
at the bottom of this page identifies stakeholder interests and the
ways in which the EBS traits satisfy these needs).
The EBS uses a 12-team direct-elimination tournament (the EBS tournament)
to determine the national champion. The tournament
structure provides worthy teams, including those from historically
disadvantaged non-BCS conferences, the chance to compete on the field
for a national championship. At the same time, EBS qualification procedures
limit the EBS Tournament to only those teams whose season's accomplishments warrant
a chance to compete for a national championship.
The EBS allows more teams to participate in the hunt for the national championship,
provides considerable rewards for conference champions, and makes qualifying difficult
for all but the best teams. These factors help to preserve, or even enhance, college
football's regular season. As more teams have a legitimate chance to compete
for a national championship, regular season games and conference play take on added
importance. Thus, a team's title hopes do not end with early-season losses;
this helps motivate the players (creating a better on-field product), energize
the fan base, and attract spectators and television viewers to watch a
larger quantity of exciting games.
What is the format?
- A complete postseason featuring:
- Existing bowl games
- A 12-team tournament to crown a National Champion
Who gets into the tournament?
- 12 teams
- 7 automatic qualifiers
- 6 BCS conference champions
- 1 highest ranked non-BCS conference champion
- Possible automatic berths: Any non-BCS conference champion or independent ranking in Top 12
- At large: highest ranked remaining teams
Who gets byes?
- First-round byes (4 teams)
- Must be conference champions (or independents in Top 6)
How are teams seeded?
- Determined by rank in poll
- Modified if seedings result in first-round game:
- Between same-conference teams
- Between teams who met in regular season
- Switching seeds limited to teams that are mathematically close in rankings
For more details, see the Who
and How sections.
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Team selection and Seeding Example - 2009
National Title Game
|6 BCS Champs||Conf.|
|Ohio St.||Big Ten|
|Non-BCS Champs or|
Indep. in Top 12
|8||Ohio St.||8||Big Ten|
|13||Penn St.||Big Ten|
|16||West Virginia||Big East|
|19||Oklahoma St.||Big 12|
To see brackets for each year in the BCS era, see
the Historical Matchups portion of the How
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Schedule & Bowl Sites
The EBS uses existing bowls as hosts
for tournament games. By rotating first round games to different bowl
venues, the EBS tournament increases the profile of "minor"
bowls, which carries benefits of increased spectator and sponsor interest
even in non-tournament years. The tournament games are scheduled
to attract attention to non-tournament bowl games (during "bowl
week"), which can thrive in co-existence with the EBS tournament.
Higher-profile bowls, such as the Rose, Orange, etc. are annual
fixtures in the EBS tournament. Further, quarterfinal
games on New Year's Day continue the tradition of college
football's historically significant holiday.
The EBS schedule limits the impact of games on student-athletes'
academic loads. The potential for conflict
with class time is minimal, and there exists and even smaller likelihood
of conflicting with exams. Games are also scheduled to avoid conflict with
First Round Games
- Games scheduled between Dec. 20 and Dec. 24
- Played at 4 bowls from a rotating slate of 12 bowls (as an example):
- East: Champ Sports, Gator, Meineke Car Care
- Central: PapaJohns.com, GMAC, Music CIty
- South: New Mexico, Alamo, Sun
- West: Emerald, Las Vegas, Insight
- Teams assigned based on geographic proximity of top seed
"Bowl Week": (non-EBS tournament bowls)
- Games scheduled between Dec. 25 and Dec. 31
- Held as normal with traditional conference tie-ins
- Sandwiched position between tournament games generates excitement
- Benefit from added publicity during tournament year
- Games scheduled between Jan. 1 and Jan. 3
- 6 rotating-bowl slate
- Capital One and Cotton always hosting along with either Rose/Sugar or Orange/Fiesta
- Current BCS bowls flip every year between quarterfinals and semifinals
- Sites assigned to bye teams based on:
- Traditional bowl affiliations
- Location (if within 250 miles)
- Preference to higher seeded teams
- Games scheduled between Jan. 8 and Jan. 10
- Sites selected based on location of #1 seed
- If #1 team's conference has an affiliation with one of the sites, then that semifinal is held there.
- Otherwise, if #1 team plays in western quarterfinal (Cotton or Rose/Fiesta), that semifinal is Fiesta/Rose.
- If #1 team plays in eastern quarterfinal (Capital One or Sugar/Orange),
that semifinal is held at Orange/Sugar.
National Title Game
- Games scheduled either Jan. 15 or Jan. 16
- Held at rotating site
More schedule details are available in the
When section, and location specifics can be
found in the Where section.
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Fulfilling Desired Traits
The key parties in college football have different, though often overlapping, goals for a postseason. The table below identifies these interests and how the EBS addresses these needs.
Click on any row in the table below (box will turn grey) to see how the features of the Enhanced Bowl Season fulfill the desired traits of a college football postseason.
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||Confs & Schools
|Allow best teams to prove worth on the field
- Championship Structure: Winner decided by direct competition instead of just polls.
- 12 teams: Grants access to worthy teams; space for automatic and at-large berths.
- Four 1st round byes: Increases chances for best teams to advance.
|Reward BCS conference champions
- 12 teams: Enough teams to reward BCS champs.
- Four 1st round byes: Must be a conf champ to earn bye.
- Automatic berths to BCS conference champions: Adds national title incentive to conference play.
|Grant reasonable access to schools from
- Championship Structure: Make up for non-BCS conf schedule with on-field play.
- 12 teams: Enough teams to give access to underrepresented conferences.
- Automatic berths to non-BCS conference champions: Best non-BCS conf champ gets berth.
- Automatic berths to independents or non-BCS conference champions in Top 12: Multiple worthy non-BCS schools can qualify.
|Maintains importance of regular season
- 12 teams: Reg season is more important because those other than top 2 have natl title aspirations.
- Four 1st round byes: Teams must be a conf champ (makes conf play more important) and near top 4 to get bye.
- Automatic berths to BCS conference champions: Increases importance of conf play because team must win conf to earn berth.
- Automatic berths to non-BCS conference champions: Best non-BCS regular seasons will earn berth and not be marginalized.
- Automatic berths to independents or non-BCS conference champions in Top 12: Great non-BCS regular seasons will earn berth and not be marginalized.
|Increase annual payouts to all conferences
- Championship Structure: Additional fan interest translates into greater media attention and sponsor involvement.
- Rotating 1st round bowls: Confs will retain bowl spots
in non-tournament years.
- Automatic berths to BCS conference champions: Guarantees revenue stream that BCS confs have come to expect from the postseason.
- Automatic berths to non-BCS conference champions: Guarantees additional revenue for non-BCS conferences.
- Automatic berths to independents or non-BCS conference champions in Top 12: Opportunity for addl revenue for non-BCS conferences.
|Have little interference with finals or
- Championship Structure: Potential finals conflict with only 7% of schools.
- 12 teams: Games done on/ near NCAA-mandated Jan 14 deadline
- Four 1st round byes: Only 8 teams play in pre-Christmas week 1st round.
|Minimize the number of games played in the
- Championship Structure: Cap regular season at 12 games; total season is max 16 games (for reference, DI-AA: 15; DII: 15-16; DIII: 14-15).
- 12 teams: Limited number of schools involved.
- Four 1st round byes: Increases likelihood of final teams playing fewest games.
|Preserve bowl traditions, experiences, and
- Championship Structure: No bowls are eliminated; critical games played on Jan 1 making for a full day of college football.
- Four 1st round byes: Gives full bowl experience to all 12 teams and fans; allows use of bowls instead of "home sites."
- Automatic berths to BCS conference champions: Teams placed based on traditional bowl alliances
|Enhance interest in minor bowls
- Championship Structure: Minor bowls sandwiched by tournament games.
- 12 teams: Uses minor bowls instead of "home sites."
- Four 1st round byes: National focus on minor bowls as 1st round of tournament.
- Rotating 1st round bowls: Minor bowls host tournament
game every 3 years.
|Maintain current level of sponsor involvement
- Championship Structure: No bowls are eliminated; addl interest will increase sponsor investment.
- Rotating 1st round bowls: Entice sponsors with 3 year deals
that include one EBS tournament year.
|Avoid competing with the NFL for viewership
- Championship Structure: Schedule does not conflict with NFL.
- 12 teams: 11 games allows scheduling around conflicts.