The Playoff System, RIP College Football

Every sport has their own unique way to determine their champion.  For instance Baseball for some god awful reason decides to play 162 games and then have only a 20 game long post season.  The EPL doesn’t have a post season and instead relies on their regular season to crown its champion.  Since its conception, College Football has relied on a series of bowl games to determine who the best team in the country is.  However this long standing tradition is now being torn apart and so is college football itself.

FSU's Bobby Bowden and WR Peter Warrick celebrate title win

FSU’s Bobby Bowden and WR Peter Warrick celebrate title win

The new system will be a four team play-off as opposed to the ten team BCS series we have now.  Currently, the BCS takes the two highest ranked teams from their poll and places them in the National Championship Game.  The BCS then awards the remaining 6 conference winners (SEC, ACC, PAC-12, BIG-12, BIG-10, The BIG EAST) a trip to one of the 4 Major Bowl Games (Sugar, Rose, Feista, Orange).  The rest are filled in with at large bids that are determined by conference alignments, strength of schedule, and final BCS rankings.  The new system will take 4 teams that a committee feels worthy of competing in a playoff with a criteria that the rest of us know nothing about.  Even though the committee will probably award stronger teams, the process is completely subjective and will be a bigger quagmire then we already have.

The Bowl Championship Series revolutionized the game.  However, the system had a few flaws.  The biggest one was thanks to the voting system there was the potential for a shared national championship.  The system cleared up a little bit with the addition of a BCS National Championship Game in 2007 but there were still issues with the voting process for rankings.  Unlike many of the major sports qualifications for the post season, College Football had a subjective element in the election of the two teams eligible for the national title.  This imperfection led to an endless conversation about the team left out and the constant adjustments to the prerequisites of what makes one team more deserving then the others in the country.

While the BCS was in full tilt, thanks in part to profit sharing, colleges tended to stay in their conferences building long

Forgotten Black Diamond Trophy

Forgotten Black Diamond Trophy

standing rivalries.  With the exception of the Big East powers of Virginia Tech and Miami jumping ship to the more lucrative ACC, most of the major schools stayed in their regional conference.  Since the schools in the conferences pulled their students and players from relatively the same areas, rivalries built to become the blood of college football.  Games like Georgia vs Florida, Pitt vs West Virginia, Penn State vs Ohio State became the essence of the game, even for the casual observer.  The fire in these games is the reason fans show up in droves and millions watch on ESPN every Saturday.  Every game was made to count on both the national and regional stage since one loss could mean the loss of the conference or a chance to play for the National Championship.

The change in the post season format has blown apart conferences like never before.  The death of the once mighty basketball Big East Conference was the first major casualty.  Thanks to this there is no large conference in the north east.  The loss of money that the conference took from no longer

BCS Buster Boise St. over Oklahoma

BCS Buster Boise St. over Oklahoma

having an automatic ticket to a BCS game was too much for many of the major universities to stick around (many fled to the ACC which is still predominately a southern conference).  The new system also signals an end for the much beloved BCS buster we would see climb the polls every year.  The BCS has a stipulation that if one of these teams climbed high enough in their rankings they would get an automatic bid to one of the BCS games and be given a shot to prove themselves against the big boys (Non-BCS teams not named Notre Dame do have a winning record in these games).

Conference realignment is a part of life as a fan of college football.  Many conferences over the years have died out and new ones born.  However, in the past, these conferences were still regionally based.  Without the incentive of these regionally based automatic tickets to the promise land, teams have gone way out of their way to find what they feel is the best profit sharing option.  Maryland, an Atlantic team, will join the Big Ten, a mid-western conference, at the end of this year.  West Virginia took an even bigger leap by joining the Big 12, a south western conference.  These are just a few teams that have been shuffled around and reorganized the landscape of college football.

Current Conference Map

Current Conference Map

In the long run the new system could be better for schools.  Without regional loyalty, these schools are able to pursue what conference is most likely to bring the most amount of money to their school.  However it’s destroying what makes college football great.  The amount of fans that would travel from Morgantown to Austin is significantly less than the ones that would travel right across the border to Marshall or Pittsburg.  These teams are also discouraged from playing their previous rivals since a loss to a lesser conference could be damaging to their new conference.  So colleges at the end of the day let’s try remember you built your money on these traditions, don’t cast them away so easily.

The new system does many harmful things to what we currently love about college football.  Many of the games, like Missouri-Kansas, will no longer be played because of conference realignment.  The playoff system not only hurts tradition, but also takes away the uniqueness of college football.  How it currently stands every week is a playoff game.  Lose or go home start at the end of the season but at the beginning.  This desire to create another NFL is ridiculous and this NCAA fan for one hates it.

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2 thoughts on “The Playoff System, RIP College Football

  1. Pingback: Six Beers Deep | SBDS’S Playoff System

  2. Pingback: Six Beers Deep | The Unsung Seminole Braves

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