According to SI.com's Stewart Mandel, the favored college football playoffs plan at the moment calls for the addition of two bowl games to the BCS's existing four, with two of that half-dozen functioning as tournament semifinal games. Those six games would likely be played in some sort of New Year's Day-ish event, perhaps with the four bowls serving as the undercards for the two actual playoff games.
So that could mean two bowls and a playoff game on Dec. 31 and another two and one on Jan. 1. All of which sounds spectacular. Not as good as on-campus playoff games, but it's a start. But which two bowl games to add to the "six-bowl event"?
First, let's assume the four current BCS bowls are automatically included. The Rose is an essential, and the Sugar, Orange and Fiesta each has the history, facilities and cachet to remain a legit part of the title card. One could try and make a case against assuming the Orange and Fiesta should retain favored status, but I don't think one would get very far.
That leaves us with two spots to fill, though it also helps to thin the herd. Since these will need to be at least somewhat spread out geographically (as in inhabiting different parts of the South), let's rule out any non-BCS bowl played in the same state as a current BCS bowl: Arizona, California, Florida or Louisiana. This trims our list of candidates from 31 games to 20, with the Capital One, Holiday and Gator among the biggest snubs.
Let's also eliminate any bowl that hasn't been around for five years yet, for obvious reasons. This removes another four, though I could see the Big East hoping to keep the Pinstripe in the mix.
How to judge the remaining 16 bowls? We could hear from ambassadors. We could create algorithms that factored in weather, attendance, proximity to potential conference participants, TV ratings, hotel capacities, airport smog ratings and local burglary rates. We could take bribes*. Or we could just go by attendance, which is impacted one way or another by all other factors.
*Bribes will be taken.
So here we have attendance rankings for all bowls over the past six (because tallying seven years' worth is super boring) years, with remaining contenders in bold:
The Cotton is obvious. It's almost a fifth Beatle already. Last year's pairing was better than any non-title bowl's besides the Fiesta's. But the Chick-fil-A might be a surprise. I'd point out Atlanta's a major media market with overt ties to the SEC, ACC and (soon) Sun Belt, plus enormous reserves of Big Ten alumni somehow -- and we'll need two bowls to tie with each conference, in case of two teams from the same conference taking the top two spots. Based on Google Trends, Atlanta's behind only Lincoln and Birmingham in its college football zeal. I'll stop putting on for my city now.
Going with the Rose, Cotton, Chick-fil-A, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange would put potential playoff games in five football-crazed states (plus Arizona!), all spread somewhat judiciously across the Sun Belt. All have proven to be within reach of college football fans, and there's a range of existing conference ties there that could help sort through the mess of pairing up leagues with destinations.
What do you think?
While we’re here, let’s watch some college football videos from SB Nation’s new YouTube channel together: