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College football playoff: Is it better than BCS?
Alabama is the reigning BCS champions
Bowl Championship Series Era Champions
2004: Southern California
2002: Ohio State
2001: Miami (Fla.)
1999: Florida State
Barely. That’s my reaction when I’ve been asked this question since a committee of university presidents approved a plan for a four-team playoff, beginning in 2014, put forward by the commissioners of the top NCAA Division I football conferences.
Championships and rings should be won on the field, so in this respect scraping the BCS is a positive move. However, determining which teams should be among the top four is going to be just as frustrating for college football fans as the current BCS model. In a way, it harkens back to the pre-BCS days.
Prior to 1998, the first year of the Bowl Championship Series, the national champion was crowned through polls in which coaches and/or sportswriters voted, such as AP, UPI and USA Today. This sometimes led to years when two or more teams could claim to have won a national title, causing many college football fans to think of the title as mythical. It still burns me that Michigan split the 1997 title with Nebraska.
Under the new playoff model, the teams will be selected by a committee *groan,* similar to how the NCAA basketball tournament field is set. The committee will take into account won-loss records, strength of schedule, head-to-head results and whether a team won its conference. There are currently 125 schools that play at the highest level of college football. Makes you wonder: How do you narrow a field of 125 teams down to just four? And how impartial will these committee members be when making their decisions?
One of the biggest arguments against the BCS has always been: Why is a one-loss team in the national title game instead of an undefeated team? Commonly know as the Boise State argument. And it’s not going to go away. There will always be one or two undefeated teams from less respected conferences in the final top 10 rankings. But, these teams will still not get a chance to prove they can play with the big boys from the elite conferences: SEC, Pac 12, Big 10 and the Big 12. Is this fair? No. So here’s my proposal.
Expand the playoff model to the top 16 teams. The champions from the biggest conferences would be guaranteed a playoff position, along with a few champs from the second-tier conferences. The remainder of the field would be the remaining highest ranked teams. This eliminates any debate or questions over the impartiality of a committee.
The NCAA can still use the current bowls for the playoff rounds, with the Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar hosting the semifinals. And the national title game can rotate among cities, much like the NFL does with the Super Bowl.
College football’s system of determining a national champ is flawed and broken, but a four-team playoff structure is like putting a child’s band-aid on a knife wound. As long as a bunch of suits huddled in a conference room are making the calls on who takes the field, then the national championship will remain mythical.