Should the NFL Have All Games in a Conference at the Same Time the Final Week of the Regular Season?

This is how it’s done in most pro sports leagues worldwide:

            While the 2021 regular season (concluding the second Sunday of 2022) this season for the first time since the late 2000s had games on the final Saturday as well as Sunday, it showed how flawed that can be.  Most pro sports leagues worldwide, including Major League Baseball in the US have adopted playing all games on the final day of the regular season simultaneously to avoid one team having an advantage over another and while the NFL has somewhat done this by scheduling most meaningful games in the same time slot, it still has to have one game on Sunday Night Football on NBC.

            This is something I do think needs to change to how its done in most leagues.  How I would do it so current TV contracts are not that affected is to add a 19th week to the regular season that would be done as a second bye week (in this case, that bye week tied to mid-week games to eliminate the short week between Sunday and Thursday in most cases).  This allows all current TV contracts to remain as is, the new 19th week would be done where all games in one conference would be at 3:00 PM Eastern Time (so games in the west don’t begin before Noon Pacific Time) and the other conference would be at 8:15 PM Eastern Time, with the games divided up between ALL of the NFL’s broadcast partners (excluding Amazon Prime but including NFL Network), including the cable outlets of such networks and those games also airing over-the-air on the DT-2, DT-3 or DT-4 channels of network affiliates to appease elected officials.  The 8:15 start time for the second set of games would in this case be specifically so CBS can fulfill what I believe is an FCC obligation to air 60 Minutes in its normal time slot in the Eastern and Central time zones with limited exceptions as that program has the oldest demographics of any regular prime time series and is the one case where its viewers would complain to the FCC if it did not air at its regular time, at least in the eastern half of the country, otherwise, with a waiver from the FCC this set of games could be at 7:00 PM Eastern Time. 

            If this had been done for the final week of the 2021 season, here’s how it likely would have looked like (Note, FOX has second and eighth choices for the NFC set of games and third and seventh choices for the AFC set of games, CBS has the opposite of that, FOX’s second game airs on FS1 and BUZZR, CBS’s second game airs on CBSSN and DECADES):

NFC games at 3:00 PM ET/Noon PT:
NBC (1st choice): 49ers at Rams (Mike Tirico, Drew Brees)
FOX (2nd choice): Seahawks at Cardinals (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman)
CBS (3rd choice): Saints at Falcons (Ian Eagle, Charles Davis)
ABC (4th choice): Panthers at Buccaneers (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit)

ESPN
(5th choice, also on LivWell, ABC’s DT-2 channel): Cowboys at Eagles (Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy)

NFL Network/COZI-TV
(NBC’s DT-2 channel, 6th choice): WFT at Giants (Dan Hicks, Tony Dungy)
(Note: As NFL Network is I believe severing its ties to FOX after this season, for this purpose I’m going to assume the OTA would be NBC’s DT-2 and NBC voices would be used)

CBSSN/DECADES
(CBS’s DT-2 Channel, 7th Choice): Bears at Vikings (Greg Gumbel, Adam Archuleta)

FS1/BUZZR (FOX’s DT-4 Channel, 8th Choice): Packers at Lions (Brandon Gaudin, Matt Millen)

AFC Games at 7:00 or 8:15 PM ET:
NBC (1st Choice): Chargers at Raiders (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth)
CBS (2nd Choice): Steelers at Ravens (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo)
FOX (3rd Choice): Patriots at Dolphins (Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olson)
ABC (4th Choice): Chiefs at Broncos (Steve Levy, Louis Riddick, Brian Griese)
ESPN/LivWell (5th Choice): Jets at Bills (Sean McDonaugh, Todd Blackledge)
NFL Network/COZI-TV (6th Choice): Colts at Jaguars (Michelle Tafoya, Chris Simms)
FS1/BUZZR (7th Choice): Titans at Texans (Gus Johnson, Aqib Talib)
CBSSN/DECADES (8th Choice): Bengals at Browns (Spero Dedes, Jay Feely)

(Note: Michelle Tafoya has done play-by-play of college basketball in the past and if NBC needed a fourth crew for an NFL game would in my opinion likely would be pulled from her regular duties as sideline reporter to do play-by-play in that situation).

This to me is how the NFL should do it.  There might be a few cases where the result of a game in the one conference affects the other, but overall, there is a reason most pro sports leagues around the world play all games on the last day simultaneously and this is how to best do it in the NFL and have all games available at all times.

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We need a 32-Team Playoff in College Football (2021-’22 edition)

Before we begin, I do need to note I intended to do this when the playoff for this season was first announced, but WordPress was having issues for a few months that prevented me from doing any new posts over that time (I did not do this last year because last year was not a credible season due to how COVID completely messed it up AND how Ohio State really only made the playoff because The Big 10, which originally had postponed the 2020 season to the spring of 2021 was essentially bullied into being played by then-President Donald Trump, which Trump himself bragged about doing during the first Presidential Debate after 55% of voters in Wisconsin and Michigan said whether Big 10 Football was played or not was going to decide their vote in that election):

A playoff is something most fans have wanted for years in some way, shape or form to decide the national championship in college football!! While there has been a four-team playoff since 2014, is four teams really sufficient for a playoff?

A four-team playoff finally arrived in 2014, but such has its roots going back a number of years. There is considerable evidence that suggests you could actually need more than that, however:

2009 presented what at the time was the most compelling argument as to why a playoff in college football was needed. That season, were five unbeaten schools (Alabama, Texas, TCU, Cincinatti and Boise State) at the end of the regular season, along with a sixth (Florida) that as the #1 ranked school in the BCS going into its conference title game had to in that game play the school that was ranked #2 in the BCS (Alabama) going in, losing that game and finishing with one loss (the only school that didn’t finish unbeaten to do so). The problem is, of course is that back then, there was not a playoff. Although there were two unbeaten schools that did play for the national championship on January 7, 2010 at the Rose Bowl, will Alabama ever be truly considered the national champion for 2009 (and for that matter, did Texas have a legitimate claim on the #2 spot that season)? What about the other schools that finished 2009 unbeaten and perhaps even Florida, who was #1 for much of the 2009 season before suffering their only loss against Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Didn’t they deserve a shot at proving they should be the national champion?

Even if you had a four-team playoff in 2009, it almost certainly would not have been enough to quell matters. One, if not two of Boise State, Cincinnati and TCU would have been likely left out of the playoff and a one-loss Florida team also might have not made it.

While 2010 didn’t have the controversy of 2009, there still was one big question left unanswered: Did TCU deserve a shot at playing for the national championship, even with unbeaten Auburn and Oregon squads? Then there were the one-loss schools like Stanford (only loss was at Oregon), Boise State (only loss was in overtime via two missed field goals to a Nevada squad that would have finished unbeaten themselves and would have been in the argument that they deserved to go to the Rose Bowl over TCU were it not for a loss at Hawaii), or the three Big 10 co-champions in Wisconsin (only loss was at Michigan State), Ohio State (only loss was at Wisconsin) and Michigan State (only loss was at Iowa), especially since Ohio State and Michigan State did not play each other in the regular season.

While TCU would have almost certainly been in a four-team playoff in 2010, who would have joined them? Stanford would have been the most likely based on the fact their ONLY loss was at Oregon, however, there serveral other compelling arguments. Even with an eight-team playoff in that scenario, one of Boise State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Nevada and Wisconsin would NOT have made the field of eight. That by itself makes the argument for a field of at least 16.

2011 had the argument of whether Alabama should have been allowed to play in the BCS Title Game against fellow SEC West member LSU, whom they lost to at home in overtime by a 9-6 score on November 5. There are those who feel Alabama should never have been allowed to play against LSU in the title game, especially as Oklahoma State finished third because Oklahoma State’s only loss (at Iowa State on November 19) came on the day the team found out about the death of the Women’s Basketball coach and an assistant in a plane crash and because LSU had to play an extra game, the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta where they defeated Georgia that December 3. A four-team playoff probably would have settled that as LSU and Oklahoma State would have played each other in one of two semi-finals.

2012 did leave us with one eligible unbeaten in Notre Dame, plus an Ohio State squad that also finished unbeaten but was on probation and not eligible for postseason play. Georgia, however, took a one-loss Alabama squad to the wire in the SEC Championship Game and you also had a one-loss Florida squad in the SEC East that some feel is just as good as both Alabama and Georgia. Meanwhile, out west, the argument could be made that Pac-12 champion Stanford (whose only losses were on the road to Washington and in overtime to Notre Dame) and Pac-12 North runner-up Oregon (whose only loss was to Stanford, also in overtime) also deserve a chance to prove they are champions. There, you would have needed at least an eight team playoff.

2013 had the controversy of whether or not a one-loss team in the SEC Champion deserved to jump over an Ohio State team that had not lost in two years for the right to play in the BCS Championship game prior to Michigan State beating the Buckeyes, and then the argument by some that Michigan State was “Golden Domed” in their only loss of the year at Notre Dame with questionable calls by the officials in the eyes of some. There also could have been the argument of whether or not Alabama would have deserved to play Florida State in the BCS Championship game if Missouri had defeated Auburn in the SEC Championship game because of what many still consider a freak play that did in the Crimson Tide against Auburn. Again, you would likely have needed an eight-team playoff.

2014 had the situation where The Big 12 named Baylor and TCU co-champions when both in all reality deserved to make the playoff. There not being a conference championship game in the Big 12 hurt them, especially in the eyes of many because the Big 12 in quite a few opinions was too scared to simply name Baylor the champion.

2018 had the argument whether a two-loss Georgia team deserved a berth over conference champions Oklahoma (who did get in) and Ohio State (who did not).

While we now have a four-team playoff, even that in many years likely is not enough to settle most, if not all of these arguments, especially if like in 2009 we wound up with five unbeatens and a sixth that for all intents and purposes could have been considered unbeaten.

This is why we need a 32-team playoff in college football!!

As most people who follow college football know, the college Presidents were in the way of there being any form of a real playoff in what is now the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS, formerly Division 1-A) for varying reasons, and until allowing a four-team playoff beginning in 2014 continued to be. While most believe it has been about money and the fear of dividing it up between schools that currently don’t get to take in the lions share of the Bowl revenue (other than the “BCS Busters” in the days before the top “non-power five” school was guaranteed a berth in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game), what is not often said is there is a very small, but in some cases extremely vocal group of professors who are completely anti-sports in some instances that the same Presidents may very well be concerned about making very angry if a playoff beyond the four-school playoff now in place ever happened in the FBS division of college football, and if so perhaps concerned that such in academia would attempt to stage protests with others who are not exactly fond of big-time college sports and have no understanding of the importance of such. This is why even getting a four-team playoff for now is very important, although it is far from perfect and will eventually need to be expanded.

Those in charge in late 2009 went as far as to launch a website called Playoff Problem (that site no longer exists), showing in their minds WHY a playoff would not work, ranging from scheduling to hurting what had been the existing bowl system. A 32-team playoff can easily be overcome with the existing bowl system only having some tweaking, the exact method of which will come up as this moves along.

There already was tweaking for a playoff this season in College Football that began in 2014. Most notably, this now has the “New Years Six” bowl games, the four former Bowl Championship Series games in the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowls plus the Cotton Bowl and Peach (known for years as the Chick-Fil-A) Bowl, among what were long considered the top non-BCS Bowl games now added. Three of the games that are not part of the playoff in 2014-’15 (in this case the Fiesta, Rose and Orange Bowls) will be played on New Year’s Day while the Peach Bowl will be played on New Year’s Eve with the two playoff games (Cotton and Orange Bowls) also being played New Year’s Eve (even though such games could have been played on Saturday, January 2) because of the Rose Bowl’s likely refusal to either move off its traditional date or at least be pushed back to a night game (most likely a 6:00-6:30 PM local time kickoff) to accommodate the playoff games being played on New Year’s Day.

One noticeable change that occurred with the four-team playoff and was continuing this year was talk of strength of schedule playing into who deserves the four spots. While that may be good for college football right now, if we get a year like 2009 where we have multiple unbeatens, you could easily have one of more not make it, especially in years you have the SEC as strong as it is for example where multiple teams deserve to make it. And then there were schools like Houston in 2015, who were it not for a loss at Connecticut on November 21 would have finished 2015 unbeaten but may not have had any chance to make a playoff because of a weak schedule. What do you have done if Houston had gone unbeaten?

It’s another reason why a playoff in college football involving 32 teams would be best. Such a playoff would require further tweaking with the schedule, with most notably the regular season for FBS schools would begin one week earlier than it currently does (meaning the season would begin in most years on the last full weekend in August) and in most years also end one week earlier than it usually does, with in those years that being Thanksgiving week. While in most years this would force some traditional Thanksgiving rivalry games to other parts of the season where the team(s) involved are in conferences that would have to move (in most years) their conference championship games up to Thanksgiving week, it is a trade-off that would be well worth it, especially since in those years it would also mean there would be an additional week of College Football at the beginning of the season where it only has to compete with NFL Preseason games and Baseball, and in most years the first weekend of college football also not having to compete with the US Open Tennis Championships. It should be noted that in years where Thanksgiving is not on the last Thursday in November, that would not be the case and the schedule would remain as it is now.

The following are questions were originally asked in late 2009 on playoffproblem.com (again, the site no longer exists) concerning a playoff, with answers immediately following the questions:

Who would participate?

As proposed here, a field of 32 schools, mainly using then-existing BCS and now the College Football Playoff formula (with limited exceptions). In this proposal, the College Football Playoff Top 25 would be expanded to a College Football Playoff Top 40 to as best possible assure at least one school in all 10 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences has a ranking.

The question you may ask is why a 32-team playoff, when many have suggested an eight or 16-team playoff? There is a simple reason that 32 looks to be the right number:

A 32-team playoff gives everyone who even remotely deserves a shot at the national championship the chance to play for it!!

That is the overriding factor of this proposal! While a 32-team field will allow some four-loss teams and sometimes even a five-loss team (that has played a very difficult schedule) into the field, it does give the top teams some early round tests that as long as they pass allow them to advance and play in what would be four regional finals, in this case rotated between what are now the “New Years Six” bowl games, while at the same time allow schools to may have had a key injury to their squads early on the chance to redeem themselves and earn their way up the ladder the hard way, by playing on the road in the first two rounds if they get that far.

How many automatic qualifiers?

The 10 FBS conference champions would receive automatic bids. With those automatic bids also comes a guarantee of no lower than a #4 seed and with that, the guarantee of playing at least a first round game at home. With allowances for special circumstances (i.e.: an extremely strong conference or where conference co-champions did not play each other in the regular season), the top five conference champions (who would be seeded #1 or #2 in each of four regions, this was top six conference champions prior to 2014) would usually be guaranteed to play first and second round games at home (provided they advance to the second round). There would also be criteria that would guarantee any independents (Army, BYU, Notre Dame, New Mexico State, Liberty and Massachussetts) who, as long as they meet such critieria getting in with the treatment of a conference champion (that will be explained in greater detail in the next segment).

What would be the criteria to qualify?

The criteria would be, as noted to win your conference and not only be guaranteed a berth in a 32-playoff, but the right to host at least a first round game if not a second round game (provided you win your first-round game) in addition. There would also be 22 at-large bids, however, the independent schools could turn an at-large bid into an automatic one by doing any of the following:

  1. Win a minimum of nine games and have at least a .750 win percentage and not be in the final College Football Playoff Top 40. This simply guarantees a berth into the field, which can be the lowest overall seed and having to play at the overall #1 seed in the first round.
  2. Win at least eight games, have at least a .650 win percentage and also be in the College Football Playoff Top 40. The same rules as #1 would apply otherwise, however.
  3. Home field advantage for a first-round game for an independent would be given for winning at least 10 games, have at least an .800 win percentage and finish in the College Football Playoff Top 25.
  4. Home field advantage for first and second-round games for an independent that wins at least 11 games, has at least a .900 win percentage and finishing in the College Football Playoff Top 12 OR finishing unbeaten (for at least an 11 game season) and in the College Football Playoff Top 20. If more than two independents meet this criteria, then the top two independents in the College Football Playoff standings would be guaranteed the second home game, should they advance past the first round.

Excluding independents who meet any of the above criteria, the at-large bids to fill out the field of 32 would solely be determined by the final College Football Playoff Standings, which would again be expanded to a Top 40 for that purpose.

What would be the criteria for seedings?

The seedings would be determined in the following manner:

  1. The top CFP Committee-ranked school would be the overall #1 seed, with the remaining three of four #1 seeds (as there would be four regions) then determined, with preference given to a conference champion in the College Football Playoff Top 10, although there would be limited exceptions to allow for a very strong conference, especially where teams in the College Football Playoff Top 5 have to play each other in a conference title game before any playoff began. The four #2 seeds would then be determined in a similar manner, usually set up to where if the #1 and #2 seeds meet in any of the four College Football Playoff games (that in this case would serve as quarterfinals/regional finals), again, now in a rotation of the new “New Years Six” Bowl games. It would be set up so the overall #1 seed would face the weakest of the four #2 seeds, the next strongest #1 seed faces the next weakest #2 seed, etc. (Note: In years where it is part of the playoff, the Rose Bowl when realistically possible would be set up so the Big 10 and Pac-12 Champions would play in the game should their respective champions win their first and second round games unless both conference champions are worthy of a #1 seed).
  2. The four #1 and four #2 seeds would be guaranteed to host first and second-round playoff games, provided they win their first round games. Schools with a #3 seed would be guaranteed to host a first round playoff game, with the chance to host a second round game should either the #1 or #2 seed be upset in the first round, while schools with a #4 seed would also host a first round game with the opportunity to play at home in the second round should both the #1 and #2 OR one of the top two seeds and the #3 seed be upset in the first round.
  3. Conference champions that finish in the College Football Playoff Standings between 16-25 would be guaranteed at worst a #3 seed and a first-round home game (unless multiple independents and at-large schools that meet criteria noted above make it in on such and would be seeded ahead of such a conference champion to where such a school would have to drop to a #4 seed, but still be guaranteed a home game).
  4. Conference champions that finish between 26-32 would be guaranteed a higher #4 seed and a first-round home game, while such champions that finish outside the College Football Playoff Top 32 would only be guaranteed a #4 seed that can be the #16 overall seed and the first round home game that comes with it.

Note on seeding: Schools from the same conference would not be allowed to play each other before the second round except for where the overall #1 seed is playing the overall #32 seed AND then if two such instances are necessary, the overall #2 seed playing the overall #31 seed OR its a situation where the schools are in the same conference BUT DID NOT play each other in the regular season (whether they are in different divisions or otherwise) NOR did they play each other in the conference championship game OR it’s a situation where nine or more schools from the same conference have made the field of 32.

Where would the games be played?

When would the games be played?

These will be answered together:

In this format, the first two rounds would be played at home sites.

In most years, the first round would be played on the week after Thanksgiving, most likely with at least four games on Friday and the others all on Saturday. The earliest starting date for the first round of the playoffs, however, would be where December 1 falls on a Thursday, meaning in years where Thanksgiving falls on November 22 or 23, the week after Thanksgiving would still be regular season and conference championship games with the following week (beginning with December 6 or 7) being the first round of the playoffs. This would be done to best assure there would not be playoff games during finals at most schools, or if there are, there would be minimal impact on finals at worst.

After in most years a one-week break (in part to account for finals and in part to allow for schools to more easily make arrangements) the second round would be played on the week after the Heisman Trophy presentation. This most likely would have at least two games on Friday and the rest on Saturday. For the second round, the lowest remaining seed in a region would play the highest remaining seed, while the two other seeds would simply play each other (for example, if the #1, #3 and #4 seeds all win their first-round games in a region, but a #2 seed is upset by a #7 seed in the first round, for the second round the #1 seed would play the #7 seed while the #3 seed would host the #4 seed).

The existing bowls would still be played in this format, but as noted above with some tweaking:

First round losers along with schools that failed to make the 32-team playoff field would play in the lower tier bowls (provided they are eligible), with the higher-seeded first round losers getting the better of those bowl games. This would include the four of the six non-“New Years Six” Bowl Games listed as being in the rotation for “second round loser” games (below) when they are not hosting such games. These would usually get the highest eight overall seeds that lost first-round games (though adjusted to reflect true seedings since conference champions are guaranteed no worse than a #4 seed in the playoff). The other four games that would host the rest of the first round losers would usually be the Belk, Pinstripe, San Francisco and Sun Bowls.

Second round losers would play in ONE of the two “New Years Six” Bowl games NOT being used for playoff games in this incarnation OR in one of the top two non-College Football Playoff Bowl games. The other two games hosting second round losers would be rotated among what are considered to be the top six non-“New Years Six” Bowl games after the Cotton and Peach Bowl became part of the “New Years Six” Bowl games. The likely rotation of the non-CFB Playoff Bowl games that would be used for second-round losers:

Year 1: Citrus (formerly Capital One) Bowl and Alamo Bowl (with the Sugar and Rose Bowls the other “second round loser” Bowl Games)

Year 2: Liberty Bowl and Holiday Bowl (with the Cotton and Orange Bowls the other “second round loser” Bowl Games)

Year 3: Outback Bowl and Independence Bowl (with the Fiesta and Peach Bowls the other “second round loser” Bowl Games)

(Note: When the Rose Bowl is a “second round loser” Bowl game, that game whenever possible would pit a Big 10 against a Pac-12 school as long as both are in the top four ranked of the “second round losers”)

Meanwhile, the second round winners would move on to what are the current College Football Playoff/”New Years Six” Bowl games, which would be played as they are now over the New Year’s period. The only significant difference for the existing College Football Playoff Bowl games is that there would now be essentially be two four-team mini-tournaments (making up the first two rounds) that would determine each of the participants for what would now be considered regional finals, with the regions broken up as follows in the following rotation:

Year 1: East — Orange Bowl, South — Peach Bowl, Midwest — Cotton Bowl, West — Fiesta Bowl (Sites of Sugar and Rose Bowls host semifinal games)

Year 2: East — Peach Bowl, South — Sugar Bowl, Midwest — Fiesta Bowl, West — Rose Bowl (Sites of Cotton and Orange Bowls host semifinal games)

Year 3: East — Orange Bowl, South — Sugar Bowl, Midwest — Cotton Bowl, West — Rose Bowl (Sites of Fiesta and Peach Bowls host semifinal games)

The Championship Game would be rotated between the “New Years Six” sites, designed so each “New Years Six” site would host two semifinal games and one championship game in a six-year span. Years when “New Years Six” Bowl Games are for the top second round losers are when the sites of those games host the national semifinals.

Using what were the College Football Playoffs and adding in Conference Champions not in the final College Football Playoff Top 25, below is what the first-round games would look like if such were in effect following the final Top 25 being released:

South Region (Sugar Bowl)
#8 Arizona State (32) at #1 Alabama (1)
#7 Kentucky (25) at #2 Pittsburgh (8)
#6 Houston (24) at #3 BYU (9)
#5 Michigan State (17) at #4 Northern Illinois (16)

Midwest Region (Fiesta Bowl)
#8 Penn State (29) at #1 Cincinnati (4)
#7 Wisconsin (28) at #2 Notre Dame (5)
#6 Oklahoma (21) at #3 Louisiana-Lafayette (12)
#5 Wake Forest (20) at #4 Oklahoma State (13)

East Region (Peach Bowl)
#8 Appalachian State (30) at #1 Georgia (3)
#7 Texas A & M (27) at #2 Baylor (6)
#6 NC State (22) at #3 Ole Miss (11)
#5 Iowa (19) at #4 Texas-San Antonio (14)

West Region (Rose Bowl)
#8 Arkansas (31) at #1 Michigan (2)
#7 San Diego State (26) at #2 Utah (7)
#6 Clemson (23) at #3 Ohio State (10)
#5 Oregon (18) at #4 Utah State (15)

(Note: Since the sites of the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl would serve as the sites of the national semifinal games, the actual bowl games would in this case play host between them the top four second round losers as noted in the rotation above)

Last Four in:
Penn State
Appalachian State
Arkansas
Arizona State

First Four Out:
UCLA
Auburn
Miami-FL
Minnesota

Next Four Out:
Florida
Mississippi State
Fresno State
LSU

Notes concerning the seedings and other things for 2018-’19:

  1. After the College Football Playoff Top 25 is exhausted, after automatic bids are factored in, the ESPN Football Power Index Rankings are used to determine the remaining schools in the field of 32 (Note: Because at the time of those ratings, the Army-Navy game had not yet been played, Navy’s seeding would be tentative and subject to change depending on the outcome of that game).  It is also used to determine the seed order of conference champions NOT in the CFP Top 25 as well as in this case the first and next four out.
  2. Washington State did make the field as an at-large at 6-6, the first time that has happened since this was started in 2009.  The Cougars are only the second team ever in the field at .500
  3. Oregon is placed in the Rose Bowl region as a #2 seed behind Big 10 Champion Ohio State as when possible, a Big 10 and/or Pac-12 school is given preference for the Rose Bowl with regard to the top two seeds.
  4. Memphis, Boise State and Appalachian State in that order are all #3 seeds based on being ranked in the Top 25 and a conference champion.
  5. Oklahoma State is jumped ahead of Texas A & M in the seed order as OK State can not play Baylor in the first round.

The breakdown of teams in the field by conference:

SEC: 6 (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Texas A & M)
Big 10: 6 (Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin)
Pac-12: 5 (Oregon, USC, Utah, Washington and Washington State)
Big 12: 4 (Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State)
American Athletic Conference: 4 (Cincinnati, Memphis, Navy* and UCF)
ACC: 2 (Clemson and Virginia)
Mountain West: 1 (Boise State)
Independents: 1 (Notre Dame)
Conference USA: 1 (Florida Atlantic)
Mid-American: 1 (Miami-Ohio)
Sun Belt: 1 (Appalachian State)

The “New Years Six” Bowl (Regional Final) winners would advance to the national semifinals. The two national semifinal games would as noted be hosted by the “New Years Six” Bowl Games whose actual games in those years are “second round loser” Bowl Games. In most years, the two semifinal games would be in prime time during the week in between the NFL Wild Card and Divisional Playoffs (though in some years it would be the Monday and Tuesday between the Divisional Playoffs and NFL Conference Championship games), with exact dates depending on the calendar and when the Regional Finals (what used to be the BCS Bowls) are actually played. One seminal would have the lowest remaining overall seed playing the highest remaining overall seed, with the other two schools remaining playing in the other semifinal (as will be the case in the actual playoff on Dec. 29, 2018). The exact dates of each game would be determined based on when the current CFB playoff games are played. For this purpose for January 2019, assuming the top seed in each region wins their respective New Year’s Six Bowl game, The first national semifinal would be played on Wednesday, January 8 with the second national semifinal played the next night, Thursday, January 9.

The winners of the two national semifinal games would then play for the national championship, which in most years would be scheduled in this format for the Saturday night preceding the NFL conference championship games, however, because of how the calendar falls, in some years the championship game would be played on the Sunday night between the NFL Conference Championship games and Super Bowl (for 2020, it would be on Saturday, January 18). As noted above, the national championship game (and possibly a third place game between the semifinal losers the night before) would be rotated between the sites of the “New Year’s Six” Bowl Games to where each game hosts two semifinal and one championship game during a six-year period.

This is likely the most fair way to decide the national championship in college football. The fact that the “Power Five” conferences would be (in most years) guaranteed of at least their conference champions getting two extra home games (provided such win their first round game) would be enough of an incentive to overcome opposition from the college Presidents, especially since it would still be set up where in most years, the “Power Five” would get a massive percentage of what likely would be a much bigger revenue pie than even now with a four-team playoff in place. This would be especially since most, if not all of the existing bowl games would still be played as in this format, all 32 playoff participants would also be guaranteed a bowl game (and a “Big Six” Bowl if they win their first and second round matchups or even in some cases if they lose their second round game) in addition to at least one playoff game, with the chance to advance to play for the national title if they continue to win games.

While there would be the risk of a three or four-loss team winning the championship, they would still likely have to beat the overall #1 seed on the road in one of the first two rounds. That risk is well worth taking because any school that pulled that off would in all likelihood have to do the hard way in winning (in most years) first and second round games on the road before reaching a “New Years Six” Bowl game. Especially in a year like 2009 that saw the regular season end with five unbeaten schools (and a sixth with only one loss that came in a conference title game where the top two teams in the former Bowl Championship Series standings that were both undefeated going in met), a 32-team playoff would be the best way in all likelihood to give most fans what they really want:

A TRUE national champion!!

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Expanding the NFL Playoffs and other changes

As we approach the end of a 2021 season that extends into 2022, the NFL had more teams than ever still alive for a playoff berth going into the 17th Week of the regular season and even heading into the 18th week not all was determined. While that has been a by-product of mediocrity in some cases, it also does in some cases prevent teams from tanking for high draft picks the way some fan bases want.  With that in mind, I would now be looking to expand the playoffs to add an additional round that would mean more revenue for the networks while assuring more games are meaningful, especially where byes are at stake.

My proposal would expand the playoffs from the current seven teams per conference to 10, with the first weekend becoming a true wild card round since as I would structure it, most of the teams playing in the first round would be wild cards though a weak division winner would usually find its way into this new first round.  The way this would be structured:

The team with the best record in each conference would now get a double bye, getting two weeks off before it plays its first playoff game in the Divisional round of the playoffs.  This would discourage teams who have locked up the #1 seed from resting players at the end of the regular season knowing they would have three weeks to heal up ahead of a Divisional playoff game against the lowest remaining seed that would have had to play in at least one and possibly two playoff games before facing them.

The second through fourth seeds would all receive a first-round bye, however, this would NOT be restricted to division champions as this seeding would be solely by record as is done in the NBA.  In this case, if a wild card as a better record than a division champion OR if tied record-wise beat such division champion head-to-head in the regular season, the wild card is seeded ahead of the division champion for seeds 2-4 (first round byes).  Other than where a wild card beat a division champion head-to-head, the division champion would get seeding preference if it has the same record as a wild card.  Division champions would still be guaranteed a home playoff game, but that could come in the new first round as in this format, a division champion could not be seeded lower than seventh (basically, in this format, if it just happened the four best records in a conference all happened to be in the same division, the wild cards would be seeded 2-4 and the other division winners would be seeded 5-7). 

The new first round would see the 5th seed hosting the 10th seed, the 6th seed hosting the 9th seed and 7th seed hosting the 8th seed.  In the second round, the 2nd seed would host the lowest remaining seed, the 3rd seed would host the next lowest and the 4th seed would host the highest remaining seed. That process would be repeated in the Division round where the top seed hosts the lowest remaining seed and so forth. Using this format for the 2021-’22 season, going into Week 18, how it would work:

AFC:

  1. (Double Bye): Titans (11-5, beat Chiefs head-to-head)
  2. (Bye, home field through divisional round): Chiefs (11-5)
  3. (Bye, home field in second round): Bengals (10-6, own conference tiebreaker on Bills)
  4. (Bye, home field in second round): Bills (10-6, own division tiebreaker on Patriots)
  5. (Home field in first round): Patriots (10-6)
  6. (Home field in first round):Colts (9-7, own tiebreaker on Chargers and Raiders)
  7. (Home field in first round): Chargers (9-7, own division tiebreaker on Raiders)
  8. Raiders (9-7)
  9. Steelers (8-7-1)
  10. Dolphins (8-8, own head-to-head win over Ravens, who would be out)

NFC:

  1. Packers (13-3)
  2. (Bye, home field through divisional round): Rams (12-4, own head-to-head over Bucs)
  3. (Bye, home field in second round): Buccaneers (12-4)
  4. (Bye, home field in second round): Cardinals (11-5, own head-to-head over Cowboys)
  5. (Home field in first round): Cowboys (11-5)
  6. (Home field in first round):49ers (9-7, own head-to-head win over Eagles)
  7. (Home field in first round): Eagles (9-7)
  8. Saints (8-8)
  9. Vikings (7-9, own head-to-head tiebreaker over Falcons)
  10. Falcons (7-9)

The only teams eliminated going into Week 18 in this format would have been the Jets, Texans, Jaguars, Panthers, Giants and Lions.

This would be one of a couple of changes I would make.  The other would be to make the conference championship a two-game, total aggregate score event where the first leg is at the lower seed where if such game ends in a tie, there is no overtime because it is actually the first half of a two-leg championship.  If after the second leg the total aggregate score is tied, the teams come right back for a 20-minute, non-sudden death mini-game (two 10-minute halves) followed if still tied after the mini-game by sudden death overtime. This is how it is done in soccer and I’m sure is something CBS and FOX would love as it would get them an extra week of playoff games (beyond the weekend they would get with the new first round of playoffs) with the conference championship being contested over two Sundays. Also as part of this, to further discourage tanking, teams failing to make the playoffs would now be put into a new NFL draft lottery that given the NFL’s popularity could air in prime time during the week of the Super Bowl by the network that has that game. As I would do it, the four worst teams would have an equal chance of netting the first pick in the draft (probably around 15% each) while the remaining teams with better records would have a chance to move up and get a top-four pick.   That would assure we don’t have situations like in 2020 when Jets fans wanted them to lose on purpose and finish 0-16 just so they could get Trevor Lawrence with the first pick for example.

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The NHL should go to eight divisions of four for 2021-’22 with a slight playoff expansion

(Note: I had originally done this post in May, which is on the site, but it was not letting me edit it, so I’m re-posting it with some adjustments here).

            With the pandemic continuing to have ripple effects that led to seasons unlike any seen in the NBA and NHL (including the NHL having to re-do divisions for the 2021 season to accommodate the fact the seven Canadian teams had to all be in one division due to quarantine restrictions of people traveling into Canada that also forced the Toronto Blue Jays to for the second straight year play regular season games to start Dunedin, FL (their spring training home) or Buffalo (where their AAA affiliate is located) until July 30 and did force the Toronto Raptors to relocate to Tampa for the 2020-’21 NBA season), we are continuing to approach a 2021-’22 season that is expected to see things to return to much closer to normal for the NBA and NHL, and in the case of the NHL, welcoming in a new team in the Seattle Kraken that will bring the NHL to 32 teams. 

            As that is the case and having an even number of teams, the NHL in my opinion need to with 16 teams in each conference going to four-team divisions with four such in each conference, or eight divisions in total.  In doing so, both to have a greater emphasis on conference play and to cut down on travel that could remain an issue at least during the first part of next season because of lingering effects of the pandemic, I would do it in the following manner for an 82 game season:

            Play all teams in your division six times

            Play all teams in the other three divisions of your conference four times

            Play all teams in the other conference once only, set up to where teams on an alternating basis play all teams in two divisions at home and the other two divisions on the road, with that done in reverse the following season.

            In this format, the four division winners in each conference would make it to at least a new play-in round exactly the way it was done in the NBA for 2021 and will again take place in 2022. The next six teams would also be guaranteed at least a play-in round spot.  Seeding would be done NBA-style, with being a division winner over a wild card for seeding only coming into play if the teams have both the same number of points and number of wins.  This means, unless you finish with one of the top six records in your conference regardless of whether or not you win your division, if you happen to get in winning a very weak division, you could STILL be seeded seventh or lower and have to play in the play-in round, which would be done just as was done in the NBA:

            The first portion of the play-in torunament would see the seventh seed host the eighth seed while the ninth seed would host the 10th seed. The winner of the 7-8 game would advance to the main playoff field as the seventh seed while the loser of that game would host the winner of the 9-10 game for the final berth in each conference. The winner of that game would be seeded eighth.

            In this format, if the top two or more teams in a conference happen to be in the same division, they would be up to the top four seeds for the conference playoffs if it just happened the top four teams in a conference ALL happened to reside in the same division.             

           While some traditionalists would be upset because the Blackhawks would only play their “original six” cohorts once each (being in the western conference while the other five are all in the east), this overall would make for a much more efficient scheduling as a whole.  As I would have the divisions in a normal (non-pandemic) situation (Note: The Turnpike division is named such because all four teams in that division are essentially within travel mainly on the New Jersey Turnpike, which travels essentially from just outside New York to just outside of Philadelphia):

            Eastern Conference

            Turnpike Division:
            New York Rangers
            New York Islanders
            New Jersey
            Philadelphia

            Northeast Division:
            Boston
            Montreal
            Buffalo
            Toronto

            Southeast Division:
            Washington
            Carolina
            Tampa Bay
            (Miami) Florida Panthers

            Central Division:
            Pittsburgh
            Columbus
            Detroit
            Ottawa

            Western Conference

            Midwest Division:
            Nashville
            Dallas
            St. Louis
            Chicago

            Northwest Division:
            Seattle
            Edmonton
            Calgary
            Vancouver

            Pacific Division:
            Los Angeles
            Anaheim
            Arizona
            San Jose

            Mountain Division:
            Minnesota
            Colorado
            Winnipeg
            Vegas Golden Knights            

          This to me would be the way to do it with a greater emphasis on conference play. It would lose certain rivalries being played more than once (mainly as noted the Blackawks against their “Original Six” counterparts), especially those that do get some casual fans (most notably outside the “Original Six” Rangers-Kings), it would overall provide better balance and cut down on travel.

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The NBA should go to a permanent Black Friday start

What was widely expected was made close to official on Friday (May 21) that the NBA is looking for the 2021-’22 season to return to a more normal starting point in mid-October and the finals concluding in late June. Some of this is widely believed to be because of what happened last year when TV ratings for the NBA playoffs plummeted sharply being outside of their normal seasons, as the NHL also suffered last year with their playoffs delayed to August and September. While some of that may have to do with the international calendar, especially concerning in normal years the Olympics or the FIBA World Championship’s (basketball’s equal to the World Cup) that between them in a four-year span have one or the other take place every other year, to me, it would be a big mistake for the NBA to go back to its “traditional” start point:

Literally DAYS before the COVID-19 Pandemic hit in 2020 (it was on March 11, 2020 when Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz testing positive that led to the rapid shutdown of ALL sports after that), management of the Atlanta Hawks proposed the NBA on a permanent basis start their season on Christmas Day, which for many is considered “the real opening day” for the NBA as it is as many before then are entrenched with the NFL, long-considered in the US to be the 800-pound gorilla of sports. Moving back the NBA season to start then would get more of it away from the NFL, but while FIBA could make adjustments to their basketball championships that take place every four years to accommodate that, the Olympics would be a roadblock to that unless for example:

The NBA and International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed to have the IOC change its charter and move Basketball from the Summer to the Winter Olympics (with in such years the NBA season beginning on December 4 to accommodate a three-week Olympic break)

OR

The IOC agreed to push back future Summer Olympic Games entirely to September/early October to accommodate the NBA Finals going to likely as late as the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

It likely would be unrealistic to expect the IOC to move the Summer Games back to accommodate the NBA because it would affect a lot of other events, plus, even having it in September/early October would knock some countries out from having the Summer Olympics due to logistical challenges that would have to be overcomed (i.e.: In many cases delaying the start of the school year to accommodate the Olympics) or weather becoming much cooler by the end of September. It also would put the Summer Olympics in the early portion of the NFL season, hurting Olympic TV ratings in the US if that happened. With that in mind, I propose as a compromise moving back the start of the NBA season on a permanent bases to the day after Thanksgiving, known in the US as “Black Friday” (named such because that is traditionally the day many department stores go into the black for the year in the US), a day many people get off in US (and if not directly, use a vacation/personal day for to make that a four-day weekend).

In a lot of ways, “Black Friday” would be a perfect launch point for the NBA. While it would be opposite some “rivalry games” in college football and a number of early-season tournaments in college basketball, “Black Friday” could be a perfect ways to showcase the NBA on a day many have off with wall-to-wall games airing simultaneously nationally as in this scenario, ALL 30 teams would play on opening day with EVERY game that day nationally televised between:

ABC: Quadrupleheader with games at 1:00, 3:30, 8:00 and 11:30 PM Eastern Time

ESPN: Quintupleheader with games at Noon, 2:30, 5:00, 7:30 and 10:00 PM Eastern Time

TNT: Sextupleheader with games at 11:00 AM (which would fulfill the part of the NBA’s contract with Turner Sports that they get the first game of the season to start), 1:30 PM, 4:00, 6:30, 9:00 and 11:30 PM Eastern Time.

The NBA could do a similar setup on Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day (holidays many have off), with on those days, quintupleheaders on NBA TV (11:30 AM, 2:00, 4:30, 7:00 and 9:30 PM ET), ESPN (12:30, 3:00, 5:30, 8:00 and 10:30 PM ET with the 8:00 PM game possibly also airing on ABC) and TNT (1:00, 3:30, 6:00, 8:30 and 11:00 PM ET).

The All-Star game in this scenario would be where it probably should be permanently moved to anyway, the Sunday of the week before Selection Sunday for the NCAA Torunament and the all-Star break in that scenario possibly extending through selection Sunday, when many conference tournaments in college basketball are taking place and many people’s minds are on college basketball anyway. In that scenario, the NBA returns from the all-Star Break the day after selection Sunday with everybody playing that Monday.

The regular season with a Black Friday start would be designed to end on the Sunday before Memorial Day (except when Memorial Day falls on May 31, then the last day is Sunday, May 23 in those years), again with all 30 teams playing that day. The play-in tournament (if it is retained following this year) would be after that, done as it was this year with the 7-8 and 9-10 matchups on Tuesday and Wednesday and the second elimination games that Thursday and Friday, with the playoffs for everyone else starting the weekend after the regular season ends. It would be set up in non-Olympic years so the conference Finals would end the Sunday before Major League Baseball’s all-Star game at the latest and the Finals would start the Thursday after the MLB all-Star game (also the night following the ESPY awards), with the Finals in most years ending no later than the beginning of August, just as the NFL pre-season is starting. Obviously, in Olympic years, some adjustments might have to be made, but it might mean having the Summer games a week or two later than they normally are or the NBA moving up the playoffs a bit if needed to accommodate such.

That to me would work and allow the NBA to get more of its regular season away from the NFL.

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How the NHL should realign with eight divisions in 2021-’22 (as long as the Canadian Pandemic restrictions are lifted by then)

            With the pandemic continuing to have ripple effects that led to seasons unlike any seen in the NBA and NHL (including the NHL having to re-do divisions for the 2021 season to accommodate the fact the seven Canadian teams had to all be in one division due to quarantine restrictions of people traveling into Canada that have also forced the Toronto Blue Jays to for the second straight year play most or all of their season in either Dunedin, FL or Buffalo and did force the Toronto Raptors to relocate to Tampa for the 2020-’21 NBA season), we are approaching a 2021-’22 season that is expected to see things to return to much closer to normal for the NBA and NHL, and in the case of the NHL, welcoming in a new team in the Seattle Kraken that will bring the NHL to 32 teams. 

            As that is the case and having an even number of teams, the NHL in my opinion ought to consider with 16 teams in each conference going to four-team divisions with four such in each conference, or eight divisions in total.  In doing so, both to have a greater emphasis on conference play and to cut down on travel that could remain an issue at least during the first part of next season because of lingering effects of the pandemic, I would do it in the following manner for an 82 game season:

            Play all teams in your division six times

            Play all teams in the other three divisions of your conference four times

            Play all teams in the other conference once only, set up to where teams on an alternating basis play all teams in two divisions at home and the other two divisions on the road, with that done in reverse the following season.

            In this format, the four division winners in each conference would make it along with the next four best records regardless of division.  Seeding would be done NBA-style, with being a division winner over a wild card for seeding only coming into play if the teams have both the same number of points and number of wins.  In this format, if the top two or more teams in a conference happen to be in the same division, they would be up to the top four seeds for the conference playoffs if it just happened the top four teams in a conference ALL happened to reside in the same division. 

           While some traditionalists would be upset because the Blackhawks would only play their “original six” cohorts once each (being in the western conference while the other five are all in the east), this overall would make for a much more efficient scheduling as a whole.  As I would have the divisions in a normal (non-pandemic) situation (Note: The Turnpike division is named such because all four teams in that division are essentially within travel mainly on the New Jersey Turnpike, which travels essentially from just outside New York to just outside of Philadelphia):

           Eastern Conference

           Turnpike Division:
            New York Rangers
            New York Islanders
            New Jersey
            Philadelphia

            North Atlantic Division:
            Boston
            Montreal
            Buffalo
            Toronto

            South Atlantic Division:
            Washington
            Carolina
            Tampa Bay
            (Miami) Florida Panthers

            North Central Division:
            Pittsburgh
            Columbus
            Detroit
            Ottawa

            Western Conference

            Central Division:
            Nashville
            Dallas
            St. Louis
            Chicago

            Northwest Division:
            Seattle
            Edmonton
            Calgary
            Vancouver

            Pacific Division:
            Los Angeles
            Anaheim
            Arizona
            San Jose

            Mountain Division:
            Minnesota
            Colorado
            Winnipeg
            Vegas Golden Knights            

          This to me would be the way to do it with a greater emphasis on conference play.

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NCAA should look at a “Super Sized” (96-team) Tournament for 2022 and ’23!

            As almost anyone knows, COVID-19 has played massive havoc on all of life.  While sports have played on during this following lengthy pauses in the spring of 2020 while figuring out how to do it in a pandemic, one of the first victims of the pandemic was the 2020 NCAA Tournament.  Besides denying the chance for schools who in some cases had their best-ever shot to play for a title, it also proved costly for the NCAA as it showed how important that tournament is for the NCAA and its members, losing $400 Million.  With that in mind, there is a way the NCAA can make back some of the revenue lost from not having a tournament in 2020 when things should be much closer to normal, while at the same time, somewhat writing wrongs to schools that were screwed out of NCAA Tournament berths in 2020 through no fault of anyone.

            For 2022 and ’23, both the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Tournaments as I would do it would for those years only expand from 64 for the women and 68 for the men to 96 schools for both.  It would be done where the top 24 conference champions and top 24 at-large teams are placed in the third round of tournaments that in a normal year would be the first round.  In this, these would mostly be seeds 1-12 though many of the lesser conference champions would be seeded as low as 15 with 16 seeding slots total (including all four 16 seeds) open.  The next eight at-large schools and lowest eight conference champions (including those conference champions that would normally play in the “first four” would be slotted in the second round, which essentially would be an expanded version of the “first four” for the men with the four 16 seeds determined from this, while the other 16 slots would be open. Before what would be the first round, with 32 schools that would include what normally would be the slots the final four at-large schools would have playing in the “First Four” in the case of the men (the women do not have a “First Four” as their field is 64 schools).

            in this case for 2022 only include guaranteed berths for schools that would have been in the 2020 NCAA Tournament and did not qualify for the 2021 Tournament (plus VCU, which did qualify for the 2021 Tournament but was unable to play due to a COVID positive) and would not otherwise be in the 2022 Tournament.  This would include the selection committee going back and reviewing 2020 to determine who would have been in that field to determine the schools who would get a guaranteed berth in 2022 to make up for 2020 (in the case of auto-bids, those who had already won their conference tourneys before the pandemic hit would be guaranteed a 2022 berth if they didn’t make the 2021 field, otherwise, it would be the regular season champion or if such had been eliminated before everything was canceled, then the highest remaining seed would get the guaranteed berth). There would be a provision for the bottom auto-berths (usually the lowest of the one-bid leagues) where if a team with a guaranteed berth and the auto-berth in 2022 are different, the selection committee would reserve the right to have them play in the first round to then advance to what in a normal year would be the First Four, and for each such instance for the men, what in a normal year would have been the final at-large schools in the field that would be in the First Four would not have to play in the first round of this expanded tournament (a similar setup would be in the place for the women though as noted above the women do not have the “First Four” the way the men do). Some of the guaranteed berths likely would be dropped because a school with a guaranteed berth either would have made the field as an at-large or getting the automatic berth for winning their conference tournament, meaning other than the “First Four,” such would not start play until in most cases the third round (second-round for the lower-level at-large and auto bids). 

            As for logistics, since the first two rounds would each consist of 32 schools (the third round would be 64), the first two rounds can potentially be scheduled like the second round.  For the additional rounds, sites that would have hosted tournament games in 2020 would get preference to host the additional rounds in 2022 and ’23, with Dayton, which normally hosts the first four getting games in the first two rounds in both years.  Logistically, not too many adjustments would have to be made to the NCAA schedule to accommodate the additional two rounds, as I would do it for 2022 for the men (this would be done with the first two rounds being Wednesday-Friday or Thursday-Saturday and the third and fourth rounds being Sunday-Tuesday or Monday-Wednesday):

First/Second Rounds:

March 16-18: Dayton, Cleveland, Spokane, St. Louis

March 17-19: Omaha, Sacramento, Cleveland, Greensboro

Third/Fourth Rounds:

March: 20-22: Buffalo, Indianapolis, Fort Worth, Portland

March 21-23: Greenvile (SC), Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, San Diego

Regionals (Sat-Mon or Sun-Tues):

March 26-28: Chicago, Philadelphia

March 27-29: San Francisco, San Antonio

Final Four would still be April 2-4 in New Orleans as scheduled.

            This to me is the best way for the NCAA to give make ups to schools who clearly were screwed out of NCAA berths in 2020 while at the same, having additional rounds to make up lost revenue from the canceled 2020 tournament.

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A crazy four-way NFL trade to really shake up the 2021 draft

I will admit this trade is almost certainly to NOT happen, but I wanted it on the record because this is the kind of crazy trade I could see done before the draft:

As most know, DeShaun Watson wants out of Houston and is attempting to force a trade.  While many Jets fans want to see Watson wind up in New York, Miami is looking like the more logical landing spot because the Dolphins can give the Texans Tua Tagliviola, who they took in 2020 with the 5th pick in that draft while also giving the Texans back the third pick they originally got from them when the Texans traded for Larimie Tunsil (plus probably the 18th pick of the 1st round the Dolphins have and most likely a 2022 first rounder plus possibly additional picks).  Tua (as he is called by most because his last name is a bit hard to pronounce) would give them a ready-made quarterback who already has had an attempt at making the playoffs which failed only because it was a year where all three wild cards had 11 years and the Dolphins had 10, which normally is good enough to make the playoffs.

That led me to think, what if the Texans actually wanted Trevor Lawrence, whom the Jaguars are almost certain barring anything crazy to take with the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft if they can’t have Watson return?  That thought gave me the crazy idea of a blockbuster trade you rarely see in the NFL: A four-way trade that could really shake things up.

With that in mind, this is one potential four-way trade that would allow the Jets to get rid of Sam Darnold (whom they took with the 3rd pick in 2018) and actually get a player whom is on a rookie deal for three more years in Tua while the Jags, either with Darnold or presumably the next best quarterback in the 2020 draft have a quarter they can build around while the Texans get Trevor Lawrence.  This is the scenario:

  • Deshaun Watson to the Dolphins.
  • Tua to the Jets, who also get Pick #36 (fourth pick of Round 2) from the Dolphins and Pick #65 (first pick of Round 3) from the Jaguars.
  • Jaguars get Pick #2 and Sam Darnold from the Jets AND Pick #3 from the Texans via the Dolphins plus at least one additional pick (in 2021 or ’22) from the Dolphins and Texans.
  • Texans get Picks #1 & #25 from the Jags and Pick #18 from the Dolphins plus pick #23 from the Seahawks via the Jets.  Texans also likely get at least one third rounder (in 2021 or ’22) from each of the others. 

This allows the Texans to take Trevor Lawrence with the first pick PLUS have three more first-rounders later in the draft, while the Jets have Tua while only giving up their first-round picks in 2021 (and one third) and the Dolphins have their man and the Jags have at least one pick they can trade down to a team desperate to take a quarterback with say the third pick since in this scenario, the Jags would have both the second and third picks in the first round.

While again, this likely won’t happen, it is something to wonder given Deshaun Watson’s trade demands.

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Time for the NFL to go to a Draft Lottery?

In light of the fallout what happened with the final game of the 2020-’21 NFL regular season between the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field where many, including many Eagles fans and former players slamming the Eagles left and right for their decision in the fourth quarter to replace Jalen Hurts with Nick Sudfeld in an attempt to lose and move up three spots in the 2021 NFL Draft from ninth to sixth, perhaps it’s time the NFL did something the NBA did many years ago.

During the 1983-’84 season, the Houston Rockets, three seasons removed from making the NBA Finals with a losing record set up their team with such a bad lineup that the lost to where they in a coin flip won the #1 pick in the 1984 NBA Draft that became Hakeem Olajuwon, who would help the Rockets to two NBA titles in 1994 and ’95. That taking led to the NBA going to a draft lottery the next year (1985) where the Knicks got the first pick that became Patrick Ewing. The NBA has over the years made changes to the lottery to make it more difficult for the better teams that miss the playoffs to get the #1 pick (especially after in 1993 the Orlando Magic even after a 41-41 record and ONE ping-pong ball got the #1 pick for the second year in a row) and made further changes to reduce the effects of tampering, including making it where the three worst teams have a 15% chance of landing the #1 pick and no team can drop lower than four spots from their original picks.

It’s time for the NFL to do something similar in creating a Draft Lottery. That has in the NBA become a program all of its own in recent years and for the NFL, it could be made into a major event, perhaps during Super Bowl week in prime time rotating between the NFL’s broadcast partners. That would likely be a one-hour program with little actual content that likely would be ratings gold and the broadcast partners would clamor to carry.

This could be done where (all before any trades made are factored in) the 16 teams who missed the playoffs all qualify for the lottery, with the four worst teams each having a 12.5% chance of having the #1 pick in the draft, with the remaining picks done solely by record to where the best team has say a 0.5% chance of moving up while no team can drop more than four spots in the draft. This would not eliminate tanking, but prevent situations like this year where fans of the New York Jets get upset because their team won two games and they “miss out” on Trevor Lawrence for example.

Going to a draft lottery might very well be the best thing for the NFL at this point.

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Time for the NFL to have all games (in a conference) at the same time the final week of the regular season!

This was written shortly after the final game of the 2020 NFL regular season on Sunday, January 3, 2021 between the Washington Football Team (formerly Washington Redskins) and Philadelphia Eagles that took place at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The game aired on NBC as the final Sunday Night game of the season as it was the only game guaranteed to have meaning regardless of the outcome of the Sunday afternoon games. This has for years been an awkward dance for the NFL that led to in 2017 having no game at all on NBC that Sunday night and this game in the eyes of Cris Collinsworth, calling the game with Al Michaels blasting the Eagles for in his mind their tanking by replacing Jalen Hurts with Nate Sudfeld at quarterback in the fourth quarter of a game the Eagles had to win to put the New York Giants, who earlier that Sunday beat the Dallas Cowboys into the playoffs as NFC East champions (https://twitter.com/gifdsports/status/1345949063301263360).

With that in mind, it’s time the NFL join much of the rest of the sports world literally worldwide with in this case scheduling ALL games in a conference at the same time, with as should be done here, all games divided up between ALL of the NFL’s broadcast partners (including separate games on ABC and ESPN) and for the bottom-level games putting those on cable outlets (FS1 for FOX and CBS Sports Network for CBS) and for any games on cable, those also airing on digital subchannels of the network affiliates whose network produce such games (in the case of ESPN, using LivWell, ABC’s DT-2 channel or LAFF, ABC’s DT-3 channel, for FS1 and NFL Network (whose games are produced by FOX) using MOVIES, FOX’s DT-2 channel and BUZZR, FOX’s DT-4 Channel and for CBSSN using DECADES, CBS’s DT-2 channel).

If we had the 3:30/7:30 schedule the final week (or 3:00/8:20 if CBS had to air 60 Minutes), here’s how it likely would be (games are listed in the likely choice order the networks would have, announcer parings are in parentheses):

AFC games at 3:30 PM ET:
NBC: Steelers-Browns (Mike Tirico and Tony Dungy)
CBS: Dolphins-Bills (Ian Eagle and Charles Davis)
FOX: Titans-Texans (Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis)
ABC: Ravens-Bengals (Sean McDonough and Todd Blackledge)
ESPN/LivWell or LAFF: Jaguars-Colts (Bob Wischusen and Dan Orlovsky)
NFLN/MOVIES or BUZZR: Jets-Patriots (Adam Amin and Mark Schlereth)
FS1/MOVIES or BUZZR: Raiders-Broncos (Joe Davis and Robert Smith)
CBSSN/DECADES: Chargers-Chiefs (Spero Dedes and Adam Archuleta)

NFC games at 7:30 PM ET:
NBC: Packers-Bears (Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth)
FOX: Cardinals-Rams (Joe Buck and Troy Aikman)
CBS: Cowboys-Giants (Jim Nantz and Boomer Esiason)
ABC: Saints-Panthers (Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick)
ESPN/LivWell or LAFF: Seahawks-49ers (Dave Pasch and Mike Golic, Sr.)
NFLN/MOVIES or BUZZR: Football Team-Eagles (Kenny Albert and Johnathan Vilma)
CBSSN/DECADES: Falcons-Buccaneers (Greg Gumbel and Trent Dilfer)
FS1/MOVIES or BUZZR: Vikings-Lions (Joe Davis and Robert Smith)

NOTE: Normally, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, ABC’s top college football announce team would have in this scenario gotten the 3:30 PM Eastern Time ABC game but because Herbstreit tested positive for COVID and could not be at the game site the way the NFL seems to want it they would not be on at all.  Tony Romo, who normally works with Jim Nantz was also out the final week this season due to COVID protocols.

All games could also be available to be streamed free of charge via the NFL and network websites to accommodate those who don’t have options in some cases to see the game(s) they want to see.

Doing it this way would prevent a repeat of what happened on Sunday night as ALL of the games would be airing at the same time from one conference. If DirecTV, which has Sunday Ticket has to be compensated for losing the last week, that can be done and it would be worth it in this case to avoid a repeat of what happened this season.

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