My concept would be simple enough:
-- 11 automatic bids for the conference winners
-- Five at-large bids selected by a committee
-- The first two rounds would be home games based on tournament seeding. The semifinals could be a double-header from a neutral site (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar or Orange Bowls).
-- The Final would rotate through the same spots as the regionals and take place New Year’s day.
This would crown a true champion, provide the occasional Cinderella moment when a Sun Belt or MAC team upsets a power, and would probably bring in more TV money than the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The first two rounds of home games would quell the critics who always cite travel concerns and costs. I also think this would get rid of a lot of the money losing bowl clutter. Teams not in the tournament would be free to go to any bowl they wanted. However, since all the bowls would now be relegated to NIT status, I imagine that only a few worthy ones would survive.
This will never fly because the coaches want the bowls. The bowl system covers up a lot of warts. After disappointing seasons, coaches can still say “we went to a bowl and blah, blah…” Even if you expand my proposed field to 32 teams, you would still fall well short of the number of teams that go to bowls now. The ADs are always saying the University Presidents don’t want the playoff. They talk about the long season and students suffering. Nonsense. The other divisions have playoffs. The fact that they are floating a post bowl playoff format, shows the ADs are unconcerned about the student athlete. A post bowl playoff would extend the season to February! Students would miss much more school time. In the pre-bowl playoff format over 100 schools would be done by December.
Don't listen to the "study time" spin. The old boy network just wants to preserve their little door prize that is the bowl system and horde the current TV money. An eight team format is a good first step but we need to go much, much further.