First off, I am not a guy who thinks that college football has to have a playoff. Is the BCS the answer? Of course not. But I am more a BCS fan than an 8 or 16 team playoff. Remember the BCS is ONLY designed to get the top two teams together for a championship game. The other bowl games are about making money and bringing in two teams who will bring the most fans into the stadium and eyeballs on TV. And who is in charge of the BCS? The NCAA? Nope. It is the 6 automatic conference qualifiers:
Do they care what the other conferences want? Do they want to include more teams from outside their conferences? Do they want to control the money involved? The answers to these questions are NO, NO, and YES.
I think the college football regular season is by far the best of any sport. And I really enjoy the bowls. I watch as many bowl games as I can. In the past few years, most people that are in college football realize that blowing up the BCS is not likely to happen. Between the contracts (through 2014 I think) with ESPN/ABC and the firm resistance of the BCS conference presidents, the earliest any changes to the current system would be 2015. That being said, I don’t forsee any changes in the next 10 years. I just don’t see it coming. The BCS conferences are not going to want give more access or more money to the non-AQ conferences. Although to be fair, I didn’t forsee the Big 10 choosing such horrible division names either.
But the plus one concept has gained traction over the past few years. I think that the impetus for this was in 2004 when three teams from BCS conferences all finished unbeaten. USC, Oklahoma, and Auburn all finished 12-0. But the BCS title game was between USC and Oklahoma, who were #1 and #2 in the nation in the pre-season polls as Auburn was #20. Auburn never got a chance to play for the title because they started the season ranked below the Trojans and the Sooners, and those teams never gave up the strangehold on the top two spots. After USC destroyed Oklahoma 55-19, many people wondered if the Tigers would have given USC a better game. I firmly believe that the bigger problem with college football is the existence of pre-season polls that influence the final BCS polls. If there are no rankings until the beginning of October, then I think there maybe fewer controversies at the end of the year. But to mandate no pre-season polls is laughable and will never happen.
After that season, media members started bantering around about the Plus One concept. The top 4 teams would play semifinals, maybe on January 1 and the winners would play for the championship the next week.
In the past 12 years of the BCS, 7 championship matchups have resulted in controversy. Here is a quick recap of the title games and if any controversy over the two team selections existed:
1998: Tennessee 23, Florida State 16 No real controversy here, outside of a few people in Columbus.
1999: Florida State 46, Virginia Tech 29 No controversy here. They were the only two undefeated teams.
2000: Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2 First real problem. #2 FSU went over #3 Miami, who had beaten the Seminoles on the field.
2001: Miami 37, Nebraska 14 Big controversy. Nebraska, who didn’t win their division, went over #3 Colorado, who won the Big 12 and beat Nebraska 62-36.
2002: Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (2OT) No controversy here. They were the only two undefeated teams.
2003: LSU 21, Oklahoma 14 2nd biggest controversy of any year. AP #1 USC was #3 in the BCS rankings and didn’t even play in the championship game.
2004: USC 55, Oklahoma 19 Biggest controversy of any year. 3 unbeaten teams and only two teams could play in the game. Sorry Auburn.
2005: Texas 41, USC 38 No controversy here. They were the only two undefeated teams. Best played title game.
2006: Florida 41, Ohio State 14 The controversy was whether Florida or Michigan should play Ohio State. Michigan had their chance and the voters didn’t want a rematch.
2007: LSU 38, Ohio State 24 The wildest year in recent times. All potential teams had at least one loss and a 2-loss LSU was a somewhat controversial choice.
2008: Florida 24, Oklahoma 14 No controversy here. These were the top two teams.
2009: Alabama 37, Texas 21 No controversy here. They were the only two undefeated BCS teams. Sorry TCU and Boise State.
Recently I read an article that talks about one man’s proposal for a playoff in the Football Bowl Subdivison. It is essentially a plus one scenario. It ensures the continued existence of the bowls, which I think are still a vital cog to the college football machine. It basically adds two teams to the BCS and allows for two semifinals to be played at two of the four BCS bowl sites the week after the site’s normal bowl game is played. Then, the two winners play at one of the other BCS Bowl sites for the championship. I don’t want to steal any of his thunder as this is an awesome idea…which means it will go nowhere. But I think this is the most practical way to have a playoff as well as keeping the bowl structure viable.
Here are a few excerpts:
the most important point from [Big 10 commissioner Jim] Delany is something that no one can argue about: the AQ conferences still control the show. This is the simple reality that the vast majority (probably over 90%) of college football playoff/plus-one/Iron Man/Russian Roulette proposals completely ignore. Those proposals usually start by effectively smashing the system and completing starting over from scratch.
Those statements are at the heart of where a different system has to start.
As a result, for any college football postseason proposal to have even a whiff of a chance of succeeding, forget about “fairness” and think like Jim Delany. Here’s what I believe are the rules that any viable postseason system needs to follow:
1. The AQ conferences must make more revenue than today in an absolute sense
2. The AQ conferences must maintain their revenue advantages over the non-AQ conferences in a relative sense
3. The AQ conferences must maintain their access advantages over the non-AQ conferences
4. Don’t [mess] with the Rose Bowl anymore
5. The BCS bowls are as elitist toward the non-BCS bowls as the AQ conferences are toward the non-AQ conferences
6. The bowl system can’t become completely NIT-ish
He has great arguments for each of the points above. Please go to the story to read them.
Here is his suggestion:
THE BCS FINAL FOUR
A. Separate semifinal games
B. BCS bowls keep tie-ins
C. Double-hosting of semifinals and final at BCS bowl sites
D. Semifinal site tie-in preferences
E. Championship Game in Mid-January
Here’s how the BCS Final Four system would have looked this year:
Semifinal 1: #1 Auburn (SEC champ) vs. #4 Stanford (top 4 auto-qualifier)
Semifinal 2: #2 Oregon (Pac-10 champ) vs. #3 TCU (Non-AQ auto-qualifier)
Rose Bowl: #5 Wisconsin (Big Ten champ) vs. #11 LSU (Pac-10 champ replacement)
Sugar Bowl: #8 Arkansas (SEC champ replacement) vs. #6 Ohio State (at-large selection #1)
Orange Bowl: #13 Virginia Tech (ACC champ) vs. #9 Michigan State (at-large selection #2)
Fiesta Bowl: #7 Oklahoma (Big 12 champ) vs. Connecticut (Big East champ/at-large selection #3)
Really the only thing I disagree about is to play the title game in Mid-January, although if all traditional January 1 bowl games were played on January 1, then the semifinals would need to be played around January 8 and the title game around January 15. I would like to see the final be held before the first NFL playoff game. I think that would be the best case scenario.
As a result of reading this, I am very much behind this proposal. This is in my opinion the ONLY way a playoff will occur in the next 10-15 years (unless Congress gets involved). What are you thoughts? What do you think of this proposal? If you think we should have a 8 or 16 team playoff, tell us how we can get the BCS conferences to buy in?