Now that the BCS has declared the Mountain West Conference plan for a playoff dead, it's time for the NCAA to reclaim control of college football.
In every other sport, if you're a conference champ, you get invited to play for the national championship — except Division I football.
Five of the 11 leagues aren't eligible under the BCS formula to vie for the national crown. And if you've suffered one loss during the season, you're probably anxious to redeem yourself. (Ask USC and the Pac-10 about how fair and equitable the BCS system has been to them over the years.) The NCAA needs to let the teams determine the true Division I football champion, not the slew of media voters east of the Mississippi.
Here's how I would propose the playoff. Match the 11 conference champions along with 13 at-large teams in the national playoff. (Sounds like the top 24 ranked teams, anyway.)
Return Division I football to an 11-game season which ends the weekend before Thanksgiving and eliminate the now-meaningless conference championship games. Take the 11 conference champions and rank them 1 thru 11: The top eight get a first-round bye and host a second-round game with the schools keeping the gate and the TV revenue. The remaining three conference champions and the top five at-large teams host first-round games. The other eight teams are sent on the road to play first-round games. After the first round, re-seed the eight winners against the eight conference champions so that conference opponents don't meet until the semifinals or final game. After second-round games are played, skip a week for test week. Play the quarterfinal games before Christmas at neutral sites, either current bowl sites or at conference warm-weather stadiums. Play the two semifinal games on New Year's Day (at BCS sites, if you like) and play the championship game a week or 10 days later, depending on travel needs of the two remaining schools. That way any team ranked in the top 24 has a fair chance to win it all.
The NCAA needs to solve the current football mess before the president or Congress does it for them by declaring all BCS schools part of a monopoly and revoking their tax-exempt status.