January Madness: The Long-Awaited Arrival of College Football Playoffs

The football gods have heard our prayers and they have finally answered. After years of complaints over the current BCS model, it appears that a shift to a college football playoff system has at long last arrived.

The BCS Commissioners announced Wednesday that they supported a seeded four-team playoff model for college football. If approved by the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee on Tuesday, this change would be in place for the 2014 season.

Four teams now have the chance to fight for the hallowed national championship trophy.

While this is clearly great news for nearly every fan of college football, would it really be that much of a departure from the current system?

The incumbent BCS system stirs up debates each year over whether teams selected for the BCS National Championship Game were really the most deserving. So a four-team playoff will fairly decide which two of those four teams earn a spot to play for the national title.

But deciding which four teams get to enter the playoff seems to point to an even higher level of debate over qualifications. The proposed playoff system would have a committee select the four playoff teams, which sounds awfully similar to the BCS selecting the teams for the national championship game. The decision would still be very subjective rather than based solely on merit.

However, the likelihood of a team not considered a consensus top four team winning a national title is slim, so this system certainly benefits the teams most deserving of a national championship game bid.

But at the same time, much of the excitement of college basketball’s playoffs comes from those unexpected teams pulling off upsets. Clearly, basketball’s 64-team bracket isn’t feasible for football – the playoffs would take six weeks – but the eventual expansion beyond just four teams would benefit the proposed system greatly by reducing the subjectivity over who earns a playoff bid.

How will the new selection committee feel about undefeated small conference teams such as Boise State?

While who the selection committee chooses is an important question, even more significant is how they choose. While specifics haven’t been revealed yet, it can be assumed that the criteria include win-loss record, conference strength, and strength of schedule. So the ever present debate between a 1-loss major conference team and an undefeated non-BCS school is almost certainly going to arise with the same frequency it currently does.

As exciting as a departure from the BCS system is, a switch to a four-team playoff will not solve many of the problems that plague the BCS today.

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1 Comment

Filed under Football, NCAA

One response to “January Madness: The Long-Awaited Arrival of College Football Playoffs

  1. BP

    Here’s an idea for the process of selecting (maybe a good one, maybe not)…

    Any conference winner going undefeated gets an auto bid because no way in hell a selection committee would allow, for example, an undefeated Southern Miss out of CUSA to play in the playoffs. I only say this because any team going completely undefeated obviously is a pretty good team (even if its a weaker conference) because of various factors such as tough away crowds, tough non-con games, and sheer bad luck of injuries and unfortunate mistakes. Other than being undefeated in a small conference, there is no way a 1-loss CUSA champion, for example, would deserve to be selected over a 2-loss team from any of the big 5 conferences.

    Just a thought for something they could consider…

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