December Madness? Mike Leach thinks 64-team tournament could work in college football
Mike Leach is one of college football’s most fun personalities and a media favorite. The Washington State coach never shies away from sharing his thoughts on any subject, football or otherwise.
Leach recently joined the Sports Gambling Podcast to discuss a number of fun topics, such as what position Bigfoot would play on the gridiron. The subject of the college football D1 championship also came up. Leach has long been a vocal critic of the four-team playoff. On the podcast, he described how fun it would be for fans if the sport adopted a 64-team tournament a la March Madness.
The podcast’s site provides a transcript. Leach and host Colby talking about the college football playoff can be read below, with minor changes:
Mike, I call our college football playoff an invitational and I think you share the same opinion here that I think 64 teams is what needs to happen or at least at least 16 or 32.
The minimum 16 some minimum one AA does [in] Division III, Division II and a lot of the major high school, you know, a kind of regional playoffs and things like that. The thing is the 64 works out so well numerically. It’s hard to ignore. And I have a lot of respect for Gonzaga and their basketball program who are right up the road and Spokane. But I’d be on the east coast and somebody will have some Gonzaga gear on. So I’m thinking, all right, well this guy, he’s from Spokane, or maybe even Pullman, you know, and I’ll go up and say, “Hey, are you from Washington?” The guy’ll say, ‘no, I’m from New York’ or North Carolina or somewhere. I go, “Well you’ve got all this Gonzaga stuff on. Do you have relatives in Spokane?” He’ll say, “Where’s Spokane?” The guy just liked getting Zaga gear because he’s been infused with all this energy and enjoyed watching Gonzaga play in the course of the tournament.
And then of course, if advancing in the tournament, I think it’s shortsighted to think that, you know, everybody’s got their team or their alma mater, and once that team’s out, they’re going to quit watching, or rooting for it because that doesn’t happen in NCAA basketball. Nor would it happen in football. They’d adopt another one to root for somebody else. They would hang out in bars, they’d talk to their friends, they’d brag to their buddies when their team won and they pick them in there, buddy picked somebody else. That is the way you’d do it, it works out nearly perfect. And you don’t have to to add a week or any of this business.
Leach shared his vision for how a 64-team tournament could be completed by New Year’s Day:
… but if we did 64, you cut the regular season back to 10 games and then somewhere in the middle half of America’s teams have an off week and then half are playing. And then the next week, the other half are off. And then, you never have to play anybody that had an off week and you didn’t. And then as it starts to shake down at the end, everybody’s guaranteed 12 games. Everybody gets 12 games. So if somebody knows they’re not gonna make the 64, they start, start scheduling other 12 games. Cause after the 10, you make that an off week. And then they can schedule it up and get ready to play. And so you have football that week and then they sort out the 64. And then the first runs you do home and home.
Then after that, you incorporate the bowls for the rest of the games and a number of those bowls works out nearly perfectly. And then instead of being at the bowl site a week, you’re at the bowl site for like two days. The winner advances, which makes it crazy exciting. If you get eliminated early, you have another game, you have to have another game to play, what you can do in the natural breaks or you can do it on the Wednesday night, Thursday night. Then college football doesn’t just relinquish a whole month to the NFL where they’re not offering anything. Then in the end, the target number of games is 16, 16 for the champion. And then you could have the whole thing done on January 1st.
Many coaches would object to the injury concerns of playing on back-to-back nights among many other logistical issues, but Leach’s vision is fun to entertain.