Christmas is upon us. Families are settling for a weekend of cheer. Joy is spreading and love fills the home. And Notre Dame is preparing for their Dec. 29th bowl game against Notre Dame.
Yet one can't help but notice the mistakes made by this Irish squad. A turnover filled game to start the season handing the game to South Florida in a 20-23 loss. Then a late fourth-quarter collapse at Michigan, and an ugly performance against a down USC squad, before a loss at one of the top teams in the nation, Stanford. Three of those losses should not have happened. Now the Irish will have to settle for a shot at winning the Champs Sports Bowl.
Yet there are a lot of story lines this year in college football that are much more pressing, and one must wonder how many more bowl seasons there will be.
Consider the possibilities that the other divisions of college football already use. For example, NCAA Division 3 utilizes a 32 team playoff, while Division 2 uses a 24 team playoff with 6 teams in each of 4 brackets, and the top two seeds in each bracket earning a first round bye. The FCS (formerly Div. 1AA) uses a 20 team playoff where there are four brackets each with five teams, each bracket having one play-in game.
Now imagine the excitement of a new system for crowning the National Champion in the FBS where a 16 team playoff is held, providing every team in the nation an opportunity to compete equally for a national title at the beginning of the year.
Each of the 11 conference champions would earn automatic berths, providing 5 at large bids. Notre Dame would either have to join a conference or compete for one of the 5 at large bids each season. Of course, considering the recent play of the Irish, it wouldn't matter one way or another, as the Irish would be unlikely to earn a berth anyway.
In the meantime, let us get excited about providing small schools and good teams an equal opportunity. Notre Dame has failed to provide us with the excitement we sought, but even so, if they manage to somehow provide that excitement in the future there is the possibility of playing in up to four more games under this proposed system (why should we settle for a four or eight team playoff that does not give small conference schools an opportunity to compete for the title? Why should those teams continue to participate in a system that excludes them from equal opportunity?).
Let's examine how this proposed system might look this year. We'll simply split the teams into four brackets, ranking teams from 1-4 in each bracket for the purpose of this article, where the first and fourth teams would play each other in the first round, and the second and third would play each other.
LSU (SEC Champion)
Wisconsin (Big Ten Champion)
Clemson (ACC Champion)
Louisiana Tech (WAC Champion)
Alabama (at large)
Boise St. (at large)
South Carolina (at large)
Northern Illinois (MAC Champion)
Oklahoma St (Big 12 Champion)
Arkansas (at large)
TCU (Mnt. West Champion)
Arkansas St. (Sunbelt Champion)
Oregon (PAC 12 champion)
Stanford (at large)
West Virginia (Big East Champion)
Southern Miss (Conf. USA Champion)
This would provide for the same excitement we see in college basketball, crown a true National Champion, and provide true equality for all teams in the NCAA. Anything less than a 16 team national tournament that rewards all conference champions violates all sense of morality. We must not settle for less. And as Notre Dame faithful, where Catholicism's moral guidance should be the key factor in all we support, we have a duty to argue for the only system that is fair and equal for all players, teams, and fans.