The BCS And A College Football Playoff

It's too bad the country's problems would not be as easy for Barack Obama to solve as it would be to fix college football's ridiculous system for crowning a national champion. Of course Barack Obama was joking when he said "he would make a college football playoff 'one of my legislative priorities' as President." But I am sure he wishes the country's problems would be as easy to solve as the college football mess. Because there is nothing so simple.

College football already has the mechanisms for choosing the teams that would be in an 8 team playoff. The champions of the 5 major conferences (SEC, Big 12, Pac 10, Big Ten and ACC) receive automatic bids to BCS bowls. The BCS even has a mechanism for an automatic bid for lesser conferences - whose champions get an automatic bid if they are among the Top 12 BCS ranked teams at the end of the season. The remaining bids are at large and can be chosen by the BCS rankings. Will there be griping? Perhaps. But if you did not win your conference how serious a gripe can you have?

More . . .

This year it is possible that the champions of the 2 perceived strongest conferences, the SEC and the Big 12, may produce undefeated champions who would play in the championship game. Wouldn't that be a fair result? In a word, no. Because while we may think that the SEC and the Big 12 are the top conference, that is not something that means the best team in the country plays in those conferences.

More importantly, there is no guarantee, indeed, there almost never is a conclusion that produces to clear cut choices to play in the championship game. For example, if Oklahoma defeats Texas Tech (Oklahoma is likely to be at least a 7 point favorite in that game) and if Florida defeats Alabama in the SEC championship game (Florida is likely to be at least a 7 point favorite in that game), the conference champions of the SEC, the Big 12, the Pac 10 and the Big Ten will all likely be 1 loss teams. While I think Florida is the best team, and others will think Oklahoma or USC are the best teams (no one will think Penn State is the best team), those are just opinions. who is the best team should be decided on the field.

And nothing could be easier - use the BCS system as the first round of the playoffs. The Rose Bowl can have the Big Ten v. Pac 10 champions, the Sugar Bowl can have SEC champion v. an At Large. The Orange Bowl can have the ACC Champion v. an At Large. The Fiesta Bowl can have the Big 12 Champion v. an At Large.

Then 4 teams advance to the Semifinals, played the next week at designated sites. And the week after - the TRUE Championship game. By January 15, playing just 3 more games involving just 4 teams and using the existing BCS system, we will have crowned a national college football champion - ON THE FIELD.

This is truly the easiest problem to solve that one could imagine.

Post Script - I decided to add an example of how this would work this year -

First Round of the BCS PLAYOFFS

Rose Bowl - USC v. Penn State

Orange Bowl - ACC Champion (NC? FSU? Miami? Who knows?) v. Texas (as an At Large)

Sugar - Alabama (or Florida) v. At Large (Texas Tech?)

Fiesta - Texas Tech (Big 12 champion) v. Utah (automatic bid as lesser conference champion)

Some will not doubt see some major hitches in this - What if Missouri wins the Big 12 championship? What do you do with Oklahoma. Texas and Texas Tech? And what about Florida and Alabama? good questions. Here is my answer - the BCS already has a rule that no more than 2 teams from a conference can be in the BCS. Apply it here. No conference can have more than two teams. The BCS ranking will choose the non-champion that gets in. If Texas leads Oklahoma or vice versa, then that is who gets in. As I said before, if you did not win your conference, then your gripe rings hollow to me.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only

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    National champs? (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by wurman on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:02:51 PM EST
    It makes no sense to me that reasonable folks want to generate a "national championship" for college football.  The huge differences in student body numbers, the remarkable variations in field conditions (from 90°F to snow!), & the incomprehensible disparities in funding for the programs would seem to indicate a total lack of fair sport in such a process.

    The conferences are based on history & a certain element of geography.

    So how 'bout if y'all fly dem Gatahs on up to Missoula MT for a winner-take-all under the lights at 6 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Jan. 2, 2009.  The temperature should be about 15 below with a windchill yielding 30 below.  If fortune smiles on the Grizzlies, a dry powder snow will start to fall at Sundown.  Now that's football.

    Naw', instead you're going to fool around in Miami or New Orleans or Houston or Phoenix or Pasadena.  Pshaw, why not just take the whole show to Honolulu & have some fun?

    Differences. (none / 0) (#14)
    by JenAtlanta on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:11:45 PM EST
    Playing in the snow?
    Playing in 100 degree humidity?

    It's all relative.


    Ah reasonable (none / 0) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:14:14 PM EST
    I find your comment unreasonable. how about that?

    Here'a clue for the sanctomonious among you - stay out of this thread.


    Does (none / 0) (#26)
    by cal1942 on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 02:03:52 PM EST
    that mean that only comments supporting a national championship playoff are allowed?

    Hardly (none / 0) (#28)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 02:07:49 PM EST
    It means that if you do not like college football and only want to take pot shots at it, we do not need you in this thread.

    If you like the current system, then you can defend it., Do you wan to defend it?


    Yes (none / 0) (#30)
    by cal1942 on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 02:40:27 PM EST
    I have other comments on this thread that disagree with a national championship playoff and I've followed college football since 1951 and certainly not because I dislike the game.

    Hula Bowl (none / 0) (#18)
    by oldpro on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:51:44 PM EST
    I recall attending the Aloha Bowl in Hawaii in 1988...when my alma mater miraculously made it to a bowl game for a change.  Erickson's era.

    Go Cougars!

    We won.  WSU 24, Houston 22 as I recall.



    Cancel Hula...sheesh...Aloha (none / 0) (#19)
    by oldpro on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:52:33 PM EST
    Where you going?? (none / 0) (#44)
    by BigC044 on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 09:24:59 AM EST
    wurman, not sure where you are going with your comment but you did raise some great points.  Of course there are differences in school sizes and geography (ever watched March Madness??).  That should have no relevance whatsoever on who should be the champs.  On the field is the only place to actually win a championship.  Teams should have to beat everyone who is a challenge.  The only reason they play the big bowl games where they do is for the comfort of the fans, not the players.  Until a playoff system is put into play, I will not consider anyone the champs.  Gotta prove it!!!

    SEC & The West (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by JenAtlanta on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 05:15:54 PM EST
    Wyoming had to go to Knoxville yesterday if they wanted to play Tennessee. So the Cowboys did, and they won.
    UT is 1-5 in conference play and 3-7 overall and this is the example you choose?

    In any event, Georgia played at Arizona State this year.  At Oklahoma State next year.  At Colorado the year after and I think at Oregon two years after that.

    Here's a truly revolutionary idea: (2.33 / 3) (#7)
    by steviez314 on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:40:00 AM EST
    How about we take the top 4 rated teams at the end of the year, and instead of having bowl playoff games, we declare the National Champion based on which school's students performed the most community service per capita.

    I mean, who in the heck cares about which school is best at football?  I'm a sports fan, but this is college for goodness sakes.  Let the football players go back to class instead of having even MORE games.

    I have no problem with the World Series, Stanley Cup playoffs, Super Bowl, etc., but those are pros in their profession.  Isn't college supposed to be for learning?

    the football players don't miss (none / 0) (#8)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:42:27 AM EST
    much class. Now other sports, like basketball, baseball, and even track-- with more games or meets, these are the students who miss a lot because of travel.

    Yes, they do (none / 0) (#27)
    by The Poster Formerly Known as cookiebear on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 02:04:07 PM EST
    Football players, in my experience, miss more class than any other sport or club.

    And I've taught a lot of places, including OU. It's criminal, imo.


    that's not because of scheduling. (none / 0) (#33)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 04:05:42 PM EST
    Having taught at two Div 1 schools, if the students are missing class, it's because of a lax athletic department. My students don't miss class.

    there are penalties beyong grades for missing class at a university that pays attention.


    ... with the exception of the football players. :D And the rodeo dudes.

    I think their rationale goes something along the lines of they bring so much benefit to the school that they deserve to be passed, no matter what.

    And it's been my experience with athletic departments, including OU's, that they're just fine with it. They may say otherwise in public but, in reality, it's fine with them.


    I have seen different... (none / 0) (#37)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 04:37:40 PM EST
    if the AD is hyped on graduation, and on grades, the players don't have that attitude. I can't argue with the rodeo dudes and dudettes, though... they're at school for rodeo, and no more. However, in my experience, the football players are punished for missing classes.

    I hate comments like this (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:51:41 AM EST
    Just hate them.

    Please do not discuss college football in my threads.

    I am serious. If you are not a fan then that's fine.  I do not need to hear why.

    And stay out of my boxing threads too.

    This sanctimonious attitude is just so grating.


    Weak, dude. (none / 0) (#22)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 01:39:33 PM EST
    I'm a sports fan, but this is college for goodness sakes.

    I'm assuming you never went to a college with a football team. At Georgia Tech, football games were one of the few occasions when the entire student body could go out there and scream and relieve stress in unison before going back to cramming for thermodynamics and differential equations.

    Every student organization engages in community service; frats, in particular, are required to do so in order to remain on campus. And then there are those of us who actually competed in OTHER sports, like intramural swimming, which I'm sure are equally pernicious in encouraging narcissistic mayhem...


    Money, money, money (none / 0) (#45)
    by BigC044 on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 09:31:45 AM EST
    Where do you think a lot of the cash for these schools to operate comes from??  Sports and especially football. College is supposed to be for learning but how many of these top athletes from the big schools are actually in class when they are at home??  If you think that these top football programs are not run like professional teams, you should check out the million dollar contracts that college coaches are now receiving!!!

    Preaching to the choir (none / 0) (#1)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:13:29 AM EST
    I have been in favor of a playoff since Auburn went 13-0 and got shut out of the championship.

    BTD, a question-- neither the Big 10 nor the PAC 10 have a championship game-- does this affect the lineup, or do we just accept is as part of the individual conferences?

    this is devolving the power down (none / 0) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:23:46 AM EST
    I believe each conference determines its automatic bid the way they like.

    Notice that neither conference will get a second team in. I suspect that both will go to a championship game soon.


    A more interestng problem (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:25:54 AM EST
    is the lack of balance in the divisions - but that is a problem for the conferences to attend to.

    There used to be that type of problem in the SEC but now it is not. The divisions are very well balanced now. In the Big 12, its North division is just not very good.


    What are you going to have (none / 0) (#10)
    by Pepe on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:58:31 AM EST
    musical divisions every year? There is no way to balance divisions. When do you balance them, this year, next year? And then when recruiting and graduating classes turn that on it's head then what? More musical divisions?

    Additionally I see you base everything on winning conferences. But what about non-conference wins against other power houses that year, they count for nothing?

    There is not perfect fix. Take baseball as an example. The best team doesn't always win the world series, nor do division winners always win the series. A lot of times it has to do with who is on a roll in October. Or who is healthy and who is not. Or matchups like where a wildcard with a poor season record ends up winning the grand prize just because they have more lefthanded starting pitchers against a team with a lot of lefthanded batters.

    Then there are a season full of bad calls by the refs who blow the best team out. How many times has the best team lost because of one bad call. A bunch in my recollection.

    There is no perfect fix and as you say others would find faults in your solution in the same way you find faults in theirs.

    Besides being bitter is what sports is all about. In general, people love to complain and sports is the perfect outlet for that. There is only one champion at the end of the year the rest of the country gets to complain about one thing or the other and that is how people like it.

    Yeah I know Florida will probably not play for the championship this year. Neither will my team USC who has the best defense in the nation and averages 40 plus points a game and is deeper than the Pacific Ocean - just because they lost one game and happen to be in the 'no love' West. That's the way it is.

    I know it won't happen because of regional assignments in the BCS Bowls but I'd love to see USC play that team from the state that hangs off the bottom of the continent like tail, lol. Then we could sent them home with their tail between their legs with their fans saying how could we only score 10 points against them? Hey that's the way it is.


    Balance? (none / 0) (#25)
    by cal1942 on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 01:55:07 PM EST
    The divisions are arranged geographically are they not.

    They're arranged geographically for a reason, possibly in part because travel time and expense can be minimized as well as the fact that the divisions, it would seem, allow regular scheduling of old traditional rivals.

    This is college football we're talking about, a sport steeped in tradition.  Those teraditions are part of its appeal.  Mess with that and you're messing with an important core element of the game.

    Just as a national championship playoff is messing with the core tradition of the game and for no good reason.

    A really terrible idea IMO.


    But Penn State would be in.... (none / 0) (#2)
    by SomewhatChunky on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:15:00 AM EST
    The beauty of the NCCA hoops tournament is that the best team doesn't always win.   Americans everywhere get out those brackets in early March and bet like mad in office pools everywhere on a bunch of teams they've never heard of.  Everybody thinks their  team or some team they  like has a chance.  The tourney dominates the sports pages for weeks.

    NCAA Football has their head in the sand because of the Big 10, Pac 10 and the Rose Bowl.    One bowl game matters.  Wh cares about the others?  Many bowls are held in stadiums full of empty seats.

    And BTD's biased Gator lover opinion wouldn't matter.  Penn State or whoever gets in from the Big 10 could win or lose it on the field.

    Ratings and Interest would be HUGE for an 8-team playoff.  

    Greek to me (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:28:11 AM EST
    Professional sports competitions always confuse me. Unless there's a team that will always beat all of the other teams, the person who sets the agenda for games has lots of power to change the outcome, it seems to me.

    And, um, college sports. . .(duh) (none / 0) (#6)
    by andgarden on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 11:32:32 AM EST
    Huh? (none / 0) (#11)
    by Pepe on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:02:35 PM EST
    What?? (none / 0) (#46)
    by BigC044 on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 09:36:25 AM EST
    Finally. A reasonable discussion! (none / 0) (#13)
    by JenAtlanta on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:09:33 PM EST
    College football desperately needs a playoff.  I mean, really, how was Penn State rated #3?

    Personally, I'm hoping Alabama beats Florida in the SECCG and goes to the title game to play whichever Big 12 South team winds up there.  And of course, Alabama wins the title.

    If the SEC wins three titles in a row, you can beat the USC and non-SEC teams will start some serious talks about how to revamp the system.  And of course, some will claim there's a pro-SEC bias in the polls - bull.  But hey, whatever gets people talking.

    Disclosure:  I'm a Georgia alum and I wish we'd fire our DC.  And as much as it pains me, Florida would probably KILL any of those Big 12 teams.

    If you want another SEC champ, you need to (none / 0) (#16)
    by Teresa on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:20:14 PM EST
    root for the Gators over Bama. I don't think the Tide is quite there yet. Though, didn't Bama used to have Florida's number for some strange reason?

    (What do I know?? I'm a Vol fan. Yesterday our offense scored -7. 14 to Wyoming and 7 for us.)


    I'm torn. (none / 0) (#17)
    by indy in sc on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 12:47:26 PM EST
    I think a playoff system would produce a fairer result, but I love the single game elimination system we essentially have now.  Every week is filled with drama under our current system.  For most teams, one loss excludes them from championship contention and, while potentially unfair, that makes the season very exciting.  In college BB, people also get very excited--in March.  Before then, less so.

    At the same time, if we go to a play-off system, the regular season would still mean a lot because there are so few games.  It could work.  So torn...

    Regular Season (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by JenAtlanta on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 01:05:57 PM EST
    I think the regular season would still be enormously important.  Whether you drop a game (or two) will still determine whether you're conference champion or whether you're eligible for an at-large bid.  I can see only a few scenarios where some games would be less important (namely Florida's game against South Carolina next week).

    I feel strongly both ways (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by CoralGables on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 02:36:05 PM EST
    While I love the thought of playoffs...With the proposed playoff system, the Gators next three games would be completely meaningless. They could lose to South Carolina, The Citadel, and Florida State...beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game and advance to the final eight without even being ranked in the top 20.

    I am sorry (none / 0) (#21)
    by progrocks on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 01:28:11 PM EST
    looking at the last 5 years, why does the ACC get to be considered a major conference while the Big East does not?

    While I love Rutgers as much as the next person (none / 0) (#34)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 04:10:57 PM EST
    (My dad played there in the 40s, so I am allowed), where are the football powerhouses?

    What on earth (none / 0) (#23)
    by cal1942 on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 01:40:02 PM EST
    is so damned necessary about having a national champion in college football?

    The ONLY real necessity I can see is that the networks could possibly make more money by creating yet another artificial venue that they sell to the public as an absolute necessity.

    College football is a REGIONAL game and turning that unique, wonderful spectacle that is college football into the junior pros, cheapens the game and minimizes the accomplishments of so many teams.

    It also could well ruin the parity we've enjoyed in recent years by influencing top prospects to only a select few schools who are deemed to be the only programs with a chance at the big stage.

    Right. Decide it on the field. (none / 0) (#24)
    by Romberry on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 01:42:15 PM EST
    As you posted "(no one will think Penn State is the best team), those are just opinions. who is the best team should be decided on the field", just as it was decided when the Penn State that no one thought was the best team beat the Miami team that was favored by a wide margin in the Fiesta Bowl in 1987, or as it was decided when the heavily favored Hurricanes lost to Alabama in the 1993 Sugar Bowl.

    Division 1 (now FBS) college football is the only NCAA team sport where champions aren't decided via some sort of playoff. The BCS is just big-money conferences doing their best to see to it that they control as big a piece of the revenue pie as possible. I'm all for a playoff.

    Agreed. (none / 0) (#31)
    by rdandrea on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 03:15:50 PM EST
    If the other divisions can do it, so can  Division 1A.  All of the lesser divisions have a playoff system.

    I would take BTD's 8-team playoff a step further.  I would utilize the month or more of downtime between Thanksgiving and New Years to run a 16-team playoff. You'd be adding one game in December. Then you don't have to rely so much on conference champions or questionable computer models.  If that's too many games, then knock off the "payday" games at the beginning of the season where the big schools play teams like University of Buffalo, Coastal Carolina, Florida International, etc. just to fill the stadium and pocket a little money.  A December game in a 16-team playoff system would be way more lucrative.  There are currently something like 33 different Division 1A-sanctioned bowl games.  Surely 8 of them can be converted to support a 16-team playoff.

    As far as missing class, I remember Paterno saying a long time ago that he thought kids ought to be allowed to major in football.  A university trains kids to accept all manner of jobs after graduation.  Why rule out jobs like pro ball or coaching at many levels?


    I have a huge problem with your examples. (none / 0) (#32)
    by indy in sc on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 03:38:06 PM EST
    Why are you picking on Miami???? ;)

    How about... (none / 0) (#41)
    by Romberry on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 06:44:16 PM EST
    ...Ohio State vs. Florida. The Gators were supposed to be outclassed as well.

    BTW, the reason for my animus towards Miami goes back to 1984 when they jumped over my Auburn Tigers (AU beat Michigan in the Sugar Bowl, Miami beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl) to win the MNC.


    the SEC eats its own dead. (none / 0) (#38)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 04:43:42 PM EST
    the schedules are tougher, the players are SEC fast... sorry if teams like Boise State go undefeated, but the calibre of play...

    Our local paper refers to us as Rocky Bottom (none / 0) (#39)
    by Teresa on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 05:14:30 PM EST
    now. Just so you know. :) TN went to Cal last year, UCLA this year, etc. We aren't all chicken, we just didn't have the team to back it up this time.

    Forget "national championship" (none / 0) (#42)
    by progressiveinvolvement on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 07:19:54 PM EST
    It's such a testosterone thing.  Who's the best?  Who's number one?  Who's the most turgid?

    Egad.  Can't we just have an enjoyable sport and let people argue about who's supposedly the best, like they've always done?

    In fact, let's go back to the old bowl system.  Forget BCS.  Let the Big Ten winner and the Pac 10 winner play in the Rose Bowl every year.  Let the Big 12 winner go to the Orange Bowl.

    And get rid of that phoney crap like "Nokia Cotton Bowl" or "FedEx Orange Bowl".  Just play the damn game with some semblance of respect for tradition.

    Playoffs? Playoffs?? (none / 0) (#43)
    by abdiel on Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 09:34:31 PM EST
    I like the BCS system as it currently is, although the "national championship game" makes the whole thing convoluted.  

    As soon as you get 8 teams, #9-16 start the endless complaining.  SEC fans will wonder why the ACC gets the same 2 spots as them when half the SEC is in the top 25 but only one ACC team is.  Anyone who has to play USC in the first round will whine about the team that gets to blow out the other Pac-10 school.