I was just thinking that with the commissioners rejecting any playoff proposal, I'd drop an idea I've been thinking about and seeing what people think of it.
I'm personally opposed to a playoff, since I enjoy the importance of the regular season as it is right now, but I do agree that there is a lot of difficulty in evaluating teams at the end of the year. One of the big causes of this problem is that there really aren't enough out of conference games between top teams, for a number of reasons, and this deprives us of valuable information would could use to make these decisions. The biggest and simplest reasons have to do with wanting easy wins and the financial incentive to play games at home against opponents who cannot demand a return game. This causes a lot of BCS teams to schedule weak opponents from non-BCS conferences to pad their schedules. We can't take away these incentives, but maybe we can offer an alternative.
I wonder what would happen if an auto-bid to the BCS was given to teams that beat 2 conference champions or won their conference and beat the champion of another conference. Obviously, they would need to be ranked in the top 12, 14, or 16 or whatever, and that second part of the rule would only matter to mid-major programs because the BCS conferences champions already get an auto-bid. The main point is that I think it would provide an huge financial incentive for top teams to start scheduling higher ranked opponents. If a school could guarantee itself a BCS bid by playing out of conference games against teams that have the potential to win the their conferences, there would be a push towards these kinds of games.
Strong mid-major programs like Boise State, BYU, Fresno State, UCF, and TCU would be in bigger demand, since BCS teams would seek out teams that are likely to win their conferences. That gives the smaller schools more bargaining power, and they can insist on home and home or 2 for 1 deals with the bigger schools. Also, these strong mid-major teams would have a reason to play each other; if they can win their conference and beat another conference's champion, they have stronger argument for get into the BCS games, or maybe an automatic bid.
Since there are only a limited number of out of conference games that the non-BCS conference champs can play, and big schools won't be all that keen on having to go away to play games against them (although they probably now have to start doing so), the big schools would see more reason to play against each other. Right now, the losses of big out of conference games outweigh the rewards. A school like Wisconsin has no reason to schedule games against tough opponents if it's trying to get into the BCS, because either it wins the Big 10 championship or it's trying to win as many games as possible to get a high enough ranking. Let's imagine that Ohio State wins the conference, but Wisconsin beats them heads up. Now Wisconsin would want a game against an OOC team that won its conference. It could either try to find a strong mid-major team, or it could try schedule a school like Missouri or Louisville in the hopes that that school wins its conference championship, and those schools would want the same from Wisconsin.
I think this idea would help to promote games between strong programs and teams and would help to correct the fundamental problem we have with evaluating teams now. It would give us more information about how the individual school fares against a top team and how conferences as a whole stack up against each other. It gives mid-majors a chance to build their programs up by playing against each other or demanding home games from large schools instead of always having to face a hostile environment. I think this proposal works because it gives everyone a reason to play good games OOC; the money and publicity they earn from playing in a BCS game. Thoughts?