The Reason College Football Has No Playoff

The BCS is a terrible system of determining a champion. Under their logic, Germany won WWII. Just look at the strength of their opponents and all of those quality wins, several on the road. The BCS also tells us Virginia Tech is better than Clemson, even though they played two times, once at Virginia Tech, once at a neutral site, and Clemson whipped them both times. You see, the BCS is not a way of determining if one team is better than another. Clemson is a perfect example. Clearly a better team than Virginia Tech. BCS says not so. So why do we have it?

College football is old. I mean really old. It has been played for over a hundred years. Roughly a hundred years ago, the leaders of the two big conferences at the time, Big Ten and Pac-12 as they are currently known, decided their champions should meet after the season in an exhibition matchup. It was widely watched and gain notoriety and respect. Others tried to copy that success and bowl games as they became known have steadily grown since. We now have 35 I believe.

In the late 80′s and early 90′s there was some pushback against the bowl system. Lots of teams were left out of the bowl system. At season’s end there was rarely a matchup that one could call a championship. The Bowl Coalition and the Bowl Alliance were attempts to improve the bowl system. but you know what they say, you can polish a turd, but its still a turd.

This led up to 1998 when the BCS began. It was supposed to be a means of ensuring that the top two teams met in a bowl game each year so that there was a true championship game. the system was changed of course it was obviously unfair if only voters chose the best teams. A computer element was added to make the BCS rankings fair.

The BCS was originally in agreement with the Sugar, Fiesta and Orange Bowls. These three sites would rotate between who got the championship game. Eventually the Rose Bowl was added. Eventually the championship became a bowl after all the others. Originally the Fiesta Bowl was the championship that year. Now it gets a regular bowl game and then the championship a week or so later. It has changed quite a bit.

So that’s why we have it. Now, why don’t we have something better than this obviously flawed system? Simple answer: there is no agreement or consensus on an alternative. And Bill Hancock with his BCS minions is more than happy to keep it that way. As long as playoff proponents bicker about the system and fail to come up with a solution, the BCS wins. enough is enough.

We need to rally around a playoff system that has no holes, is easy to implement and fair for everyone. Some have proposed a 16 team playoff like I once did. This won’t work because that is just too many teams. That adds too many games to the season. It includes too many teams that don’t deserve to be there. Some have suggested using the bowl games. You cannot have a playoff of bowl games. People won’t travel. All the revenues will go to bowl executives.

So if we cannot have 16 teams and we cannot use bowl games as playoff sites, what is the answer? The solution is simple. We need an 8 team playoff. We need fair access for everyone. We need home games. How can this all be done at once?

My playoff proposal solves all the problems. Any conference champion finishing in the top 14 of the final BCS standings is automatically in. Currently the top 14 is the cutoff for at large teams, so if the BCS feels top 14 is fair to allow in the major bowl games, then it is fair to allow them in the playoff, but only if they accomplish the grueling task of winning their conference.

Now there are 11 conferences. It is possible that all 11 of their champions could be in the top 14 at the end of the season. If this unlikely scenario ever actually happens, then the 8 highest ranked of them in the BCS are in the playoff. We have never had 8 undefeated teams finish the season in college football, so you can still get in by winning all your games and making the regular season a playoff of sorts like BCS folks like to say.

In years like this you will see only 4 of the 11 conference champions were in the top 14. In that case, the remaining 4 spots are filled by the highest ranked remaining teams in the BCS standings. For independents, finish in the top 8 and you are automatically in. This is essentially the deal Notre Dame has with the BCS right now, so it would apply to all independents.

This is the best and most fair team selection process for a playoff proposal to date. It maintains the BCS standings and their important. No. 1 and No. 2 are still coveted because they guarantee home field advantage until the championship. Winning your conference still matters, but only if you have a good overall season. It’s the best way to do this.

The playoff would begin the weekend after the Army-Navy game so as to not disrupt anything with the current regular season. This is also when the bowl games began this year, and so timeline-wise it works with school schedules and classes and what not. the first round is 8 at 1, 7 at 2, 6 at 3 and 5 at 4. Teams are seeded based on BCS rankings.

The semi-final game will be played the day before the Rose Bowl. If the Rose Bowl falls on a Monday then it will be on the Saturday before. The two remaining higher seeds would host the two remaining lower seeds. The winners would play in the championship game on the same day the championship game is being held each year under the BCS, the second Monday of January.

The bowl games are unaffected. If USC were not banned this year, they could have been in the Rose Bowl against Michigan State. South Carolina and Kansas State could have been in the Sugar Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl could have featured Baylor and TCU. The Orange Bowl would have been the same, with Clemson playing West Virginia. Instead of just 2 teams being off limits to the bowls, 8 teams would be. So we lose a few meaningless bowls since there are no longer enough teams to support them. Boo hoo. Just 12 years ago there were only 22 bowls or something. Not like there is any tradition in half of these dumb games.

The site of the championship game can be anywhere. NFL stadiums could bid on it. Bowl sites could bid on it. Whatever. Just let it rotate each year from neutral site to neutral site. This keeps the bowl games separate from the playoff. The playoff system would be scheduled at the start of the year so the bowls could work around it. Or they could hold their contest at the same time as a playoff game. Good luck getting any viewers. At any rate, its up to them. No one dictates who they choose or when they play. They can make agreements as they see fit with the various conferences as to which bowls take teams from which conferences.

This playoff proposal is actually doable. This is something that could be implemented and understood immediately. This gives everyone access to the playoff without creating a massive 16 team affair. it works at every level and has no drawbacks. If all playoff proponents could rally behind it and get it in front of the conference commissioners, it could gain traction and get somewhere. But as long as we argue about which playoff scenario is the best, we will never be rid of the ridiculous system we have now.

Brent Musberger was right. He said, speaking of the BCS championship game, that “there is nothing like it in all of sports.” He is right. That is because in all of sports we have legitimate champions who win legitimate postseason tournaments. We have Super Bowls, World Series, Stanley Cups and Final Four. Across all other sports they are doing it right. College football is the only sport where teams are stupid enough to be coughing up all the revenue in a postseason to bowl executives.

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