Seeing that there is no Duke game on tonight and instead, I’ll be watching Texas take on Alabama in the “championship” game, I’m going to take a moment to give my thoughts on the whole BCS vs. PLAYOFF conflict.
Let me just state right away, I hate the BCS. I think it is pathetic that a wonderful sport like college football ends its season like this. I’ve heard Michael Wilbon on PTI call it a “cartel” and you know what, he’s right. The BCS is not about championships, it’s about money. It’s about guaranteeing that the same big boys keep receiving that money.
There is a reason why over the seven years, only eight teams (from four conferences) have appeared in the “championship” game (Over it’s full thirteen year history, only 13 different teams have appeared in the “championship” game. That tells you all you need to know.
So what are the arguments for keeping the BCS?
First, the number one reason (and the only thing close to a legit argument) is that it makes the regular season a playoff. Fine. Then let me steal a question proposed by Dan Wetzel at Yahoo…if the regular season is a playoff, when did 14-0 Boise State get eliminated? When did undefeated Utah get eliminated last year, a year that saw a one-loss team win it all? When did Auburn get eliminated in 2004?
The second argument of course isn’t even an argument for the BCS, but against the playoffs. It’s that a playoff would ruin the bowls. My question to them is, who cares? Quick, who played in the Cotton Bowl this year? You might know, but I’d bet you most people would have no idea.
In reality, the BCS has already killed the bowls. For those of you who are old enough, remember when New Year’s Day was the greatest day ever? So many games, including all the big ones; the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange. What made those bowl games (and others) so great was the fact that the system was so screwed up back then, in reality, lots of teams had a legit shot at the title.
Think back to the 1983 season. No 5 Miami beat No 1 Nebraska, while No 2 Texas lost, while No 3 Auburn won, but only by one. The Canes jumped everyone for the title. All those bowl games mattered. Think back to 1984, when freaking BYU won the title, after playing in the Holiday Bowl.
Again, I’m not arguing FOR this system. It sucked having two undefeated teams unable to face each other (Miami/Washington in 1991, Nebraska/Penn State in 1994). My point is, any thrill or excitement that bowl games use to give us was taken away once the BCS started.
What the BCS has given us is a bunch of big schools playing no one in the regular season…just look at the Florida Gators’ non-conference schedule over the last four years. Pathetic. Of course I don’t blame Urban Meyer for playing no one. He knows he doesn’t have to. He plays in the SEC and a one-loss SEC team is more valuable than an undefeated Utah team. Hell, a two-loss LSU team won the freaking title in 2007.
That’s it, those are your two arguments for the BCS and both are lame. Me, I’m for a playoff.
Of course, there are plenty of types of playoffs you can have: a plus one, the top four, the top eight, the top sixteen, but my system would mimic the NCAA tournament (and no, I’m not suggesting 64 teams). What I would mimic is the value basketball puts into conference winners.
Here’s my three-point plan for a college football playoff…if I was in charge.
1. First, before we even dive into the post-season, let’s talk schedule. I would lose the 12-game schedule. Let’s go back to 11 games (three non-conference games and eight conference games).
2. Regarding the conferences…while some conferences are so big, you need to have a conference championship game, I’d break up the divisions. The ACC has 12 teams, so they all can’t play each other. Yet when it’s all said and done, more often than not, the two best teams are stuck in the same conference (this happens a lot in the Big 12). In my system, the two best teams would play in the conference championship game, no matter what the divisions are.
3. Now the playoff. My playoff would be a 16-team playoff. 11 of those spots would be automatic bids that go to the conference winner. This simply means, at the beginning of the season every team has a shot. Anyone can get into the playoffs. It doesn’t matter if you’re Ohio State or Utah State, if you win your conference, you’re in. (Note: If your an independent like Notre Dame, They could qualify for an at-large if they win nine of eleven games and are ranked 16th or better (the same goes to Army and Navy).
Next, the five other spots would be at-large bids. You can choose these by going by the rankings (like the BCS does) or a committee (like basketball does). I’d be open for both, but I would prefer the committee.
If you went with a committee, then that same committee would then seed the 16 teams. In round one, all games are played at the higher seed’s home stadium. However, the elite eight would then switch to the big bowl games (Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta). The winners would go to the final four and that would be played in two of these four bowl sites (they would rotate each year). The championship game though, I’d have it at rotating sites, just like the Superbowl.
If my system was put into place this season, this is what the first round would have looked like.
BIG DUKE BALLS COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
#1 Alabama (SEC) vs. #16 Troy (Sun Belt)
#2 Texas (Big 12) vs. #15 Central Michigan (Mid-American)
#3 TCU (Mountain West) vs. #14 East Carolina (USA)
#4 Cincinnati (Big East) vs. #13 LSU (At Large)
#5 Florida (At Large) vs. #12 Virginia Tech (At Large)
#6 Boise State (WAC) vs. #11 Penn State (At Large)
#7 Oregon (PAC 10) vs. #10 Iowa (At Large)
#8 Ohio State (Big 10) vs. #9 Georgia Tech (ACC)
Now, how excited would you be to watch some of these games knowing that the winner advances to an elite eight? George Mason would have nothing on a team like Troy upsetting a Alabama in the first round.
Now the attempted arguments against this system would be…first, we’d lose the bowl games. Again, this is not true. The other teams that don’t make it into the playoffs could still go to bowl games. Let those games be played during the week, in between the playoff games. Will these bowl games mean anything? No, but they don’t now. I’m an ACC guy and I know Carolina lost to Pittsburgh, but I only know that because I do a NCAA Bowl pool. I couldn’t tell you what bowl game it was.
You would also still have your big bowls; the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange, since they would host the elite eight of the playoffs.
The second argument would be, the regular season would lose its value. Again, not true. Every game would mean something still. If you’re a team and you want a guarantee to get into the post-season then you win them all. If you lose one, especially in conference, suddenly you don’t want to lose again. Texas vs. Oklahoma would still be huge. The winner would have a great shot at the playoffs. The loser would know that one more loss and they might be done.
If you’re a fan and you’re watching your team, cheering, yelling, screaming, it’s not going to be any different. You’re going to want your team to win. You’re going to want to make sure you don’t put your teams chances in the hands of some committee.
Yes, the SEC championship game this past season would have less meaning. No matter who won, both teams would get into the post-season, but do we not fix the system for everyone, simply because the SEC title game might have less meaning? Besides, it would still have a ton of meaning. Tell me, would you rather be the top seed facing Troy at home or a fifth seed facing a dangerous Virginia Tech team at home? Hell, if you wanted, you can say that if you don’t win your conference, you can’t be one of the top eight seeds (thus get a home game), but personally, I’d be against that.
One final argument would be, there would still be arguments when some teams don’t get the at large bids. This is true. I can’t argue with that. However, what would you rather have…three undefeated teams being told they don’t deserve a shot at the title or a handful of 2-loss teams arguing over a couple of at-large bids? Think about it, while we might completely disagree when a Virginia Tech doesn’t get into the NCAA Basketball tournament, in reality we get over it pretty quickly.
In reality, this is where teams will be forced to play real schedules. Looking at this year’s results, the Miami Hurricanes would have a legit argument to get in over LSU, simply because of a tougher non-conference schedule. Yet like I said, we have less pity for a three-loss team not getting in.
This is my system. This is what I would do if I was the ruler of college football. Instead, for the second straight year, I get to watch the Big 12 face off against the SEC, just because they are the Big 12 and the SEC, while Boise State sits at 14-0.