Saturday marks the close of the 2010 Football Championship Subdivision regular season. The NCAA unveils the newly-expanded field of 20 Sunday, and
selection committee chair Jim O'Day will take questions on how the bracket was formed.
The very existence of the FCS playoff debunks virtually every argument made against a tournament for its bigger, more profitable Bowl Subdivision brother. On a personal note, I was a bowl proponent before a season covering the FCS for CBS network made me a playoff convert.
Indeed, I was once a believer of the BCS mantra that the system means "every game matters." But those FCS programs jockeying for seeding or a berth would argue each of their 11 games matter equally. A playoff breeds unrivaled competition -- last year's semifinal between Montana and Appalachian State, played before a packed Grizzly Stadium amid a blizzard proved that.
Just imagine the dream match-ups a format mirroring that of the FCS would create in the FBS. Say Florida finishes strong and earns a seed in the opening round, but has to leave SEC Country for a cold weather encounter at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium. The possibilities are limitless.
Parameters are simple: each of the 11 conference champions earn a bid, with nine at-large possibilities.
A 20-team bracket in 2010 would breakdown thusly, were it to begin today:
No. 20 Florida International (Sun Belt automatic) at No. 13 Arkansas
No. 19 Northern Illinois (MAC automatic) at No. 14 Missouri (at-large)
No. 18 Pitt (Big East automatic) at No. 15 Oklahoma (at-large)
No. 17 South Carolina (at-large) at No. 16 Virginia Tech (ACC automatic)
ROUND OF 16
Winner 17 vs. 16 at No. 1 Oregon (Pac-10 automatic)
No. 9 Ohio State (at-large) at No. 8 Nebraska (Big 12 automatic)
Winner 13 vs. 20 at No. 4 TCU (MWC automatic)
No. 12 Michigan State (at-large) at No. 5 LSU (at-large)
No. 11 Alabama (at-large) at No. 6 Stanford (at-large)
Winner 19 vs. 14 at No. 3 Boise State (WAC automatic)
No. 10 Oklahoma State (at-large) at No. 7 Wisconsin (Big Ten automatic)
Winner 15 vs. 18 at No. 2 Auburn (SEC automatic)
And from there, it breaks down in much the same fashion as the NCAA basketball tournament.
No playoff system would be feasible without the inclusion of the current BCS bowls. There's simply too much money at stake. So if that means playing semifinals and the championship game in Glendale, Pasadena, Miami and New Orleans intermittenly a la the Final Four's regular rotation, that's a solution.