The last year of the BCS has finally come and gone. Finally. Yes, many are raving about the great game last night that saw a Florida State comeback and several late lead changes (it was a great game). Still, few can truly praise what the Bowl Championship Series has done for college football. It is the only college sport that one can think of that has not had a playoff system. It is the only level of football that has not had a playoff system. Instead, it takes whatever two teams are at the top of a messed-up ranking system and pits them against each other. This takes strength of schedule as less of a consideration compared to how well-known a team is.
I can recollect several years back when Boise State and Texas Christian finished undefeated along with two other teams. Yet they were both passed over for the national championship game (this has happened to Boise State twice, I believe) because they did not have quite the schedules the other two teams did. And yet this year, Ohio State would have been given a spot above a one-loss Auburn team (had OSU not lost in the Big Ten championship game) although Auburn’s schedule was far-and-above more difficult than OSU’s. (Proving how overrated Ohio State was, they were beaten by the only two top 20 teams they faced- but that’s another story.) The rankings are open to individual bias by writers, as they are in any sport, and really should be based on a more logical computer ranking, such as can be seen in the formula in high school football. But the difference has been, even if a team doesn’t make it into the rankings, they still have a chance in other sports due to a playoff.
Now college football has “compromised” on its bowl system by adding a four team playoff and still sending every team with a .500 record to a bowl game. This still only puts the top four teams to the playoff, which will likely make the outcry from much worse: normally there are about 8-10 one-loss teams, and only two or three of them will be included in this playoff. And probably two or three will be SEC teams, being those with the toughest schedules (among one-loss teams, hence why Auburn got in to the national championship over all the other one-loss teams); but who is to say others cannot beat them? Who is to say Boise St. and TCU could not have beaten #1 and #2?
This playoff is a step in the right direction. But a four team playoff is not the answer. This highly favors “tough” conferences. Eight teams would be better, possibly sixteen. But there is something that could satisfy those who want an advantage given to teams that have good regular seasons, as well as include more deserving teams and traditional bowls.
How about a 24 team playoff?
Yes, 24 teams. No, it doesn’t make a straight bracket. But it could be similar to the way the NFL operates. The teams ranked 1-24 (sorry #25, but you are often a team placed in the rankings that will play a higher-ranked team and be replaced the next week) will go into this playoff. Those ranked 1-8 will get a bye. Hence, #9 will play #24, #10 plays #23, and so on. After the first round of games, there will be 16 teams left. Then the #1 ranked team will play the lowest ranked team, #2 plays the second-lowest ranked team, all the way until the #8 team, who plays the highest ranked team left from the first round.
With eight teams left, the same rules will apply; the lowest seed will play the highest seed, etc. It is just as it is in the NFL, except more rounds. With the round of eight, the traditional BCS bowls in place now (Cotton, Orange, Fiesta, Sugar) that so many do not want to get rid of can be used.
Again the same rules apply with the semifinals. Stadiums or cites could make bids for both it and the championship game, or it could be put into a rotation.I believe this to be a fairer playoff, as well as a better compromise of the differing opinions of college football fans and “experts” all around. For now, we are stuck with the continual bad decisions of the powers that be in college football.