BCS committee approves 4 team football playoff-The Implications
Written by Curt Popejoy on 06/21/2012
Well the cry went out, give the people what they wanted, and what people wanted in Division I college football was a playoff. And yesterday the commissioners from every BCS conference announced they had reached concensus on a 4 team playoff that will begin for the 2014-2015 season.
The current system, the BCS has been in place since 1998 and been a constant source of debate and controversy, and for most college football fans a source of frustration. While all details have not been released in terms of where the BCS will be starting in 2014, disgruntled fans can be assured BCS monster that has caused them so much stress will no longer exist.
Obviously this is not a done deal. What the commissioners have created is a template. There is much minutia to sort out and obviously the BCS oversight committee must approve it for it to go into effect. But at this point it seems to just be a formality. They have found a way to maintain the integrity of the bowls(to a degree), as well as appease those clamoring for closure on the college football season.
The next hurdle in the process is to develop a way to select these teams that is as fair and equitable as possible. Early talk is there will be a selection committee created to select and seed these top 4 teams, along the same lines as how the NCAA uses a selection committee to pick the 64+ teams that play in the basketball tournament.
Who's going to be on this committee is one of 2 big questions that will really shape how this works. I'm not sure who the committee is that will select this committee but they will not have an enviable job. No matter who they select, they are going to be met with a tremendous amount of criticism. In basketball
every year they select over 5 dozen teams and they are still criticized for "missing" on picks. I can't imagine the fire they will face with only picking 4. They will have to be smart to select former coaches and officials who can remain impartial and no former coaches with axes to grind against a particular conference, team or other coach.
So how do we make their jobs easier? Matt Zemek of college football news has propsed flex sceduling for late season games to help assure that their is a more fair picture of how good each team is when the selection comes. You can read Matt's article here, and he makes some excellent points. As a college football fan, I'd be troubled with the idea of my home game suddenly become as away game late in the season in a huge matchup and I have to travel for a game I thought I would get at a home. Also with home team advantage being what it is in college football, I'm not sure how happy I'd be if I was the fan of a team with a really strong home record being told I am losing a home game and having to practically concede a loss. But I understand that this system is to appease those who want to see the best 4, and teams 5 on will just have to deal with it. I would also be concerned about what would appear to favoritism. For example the selection committee flexes out a late season game for Boise State in order to give them the opportunity to win a more important game and improve their standing in a potential playoff spot, but do not do so for say Virginia Tech, how could that potentially look?
This leads into the second question, which is how to does a playoff work while still maintaining the importance of the regular season. Even the most die hard college basketball fans understand that the regular season and even the conference tournaments carry almost zero importance since it's all about making the tourney. Just get there and the rest will sort itself out. Obviously the two clear difference are the college basketball season is bloated and huge as is their tourney so there's much more wiggle room to slack. Where I can see this impacting college football will be in terms of WHEN teams schedule big games.
In a typical 12 game season I can see teams doing their best to back load their schedules in order to impress late in the season and save themselves early. This is sort of where Zemek was going with the late season flex scheduling. But the best way to preserve the relevance the regular season, keep it from becoming a lot of shuffling and shifting, and to still give fans the closure they desire is put the 4 team playoff in place, and then leave it alone. Every 2 teams you add to this mix, you chip away a little of the regular season, turn scheduling into a chess match, and create more and more work for all involved.
Obviously there is still a lot of wrinkles to work out on things like the rotation of semifinal games, how championship game locations are determined, etc. But fans of a playoff can rejoice that DI college football have listened and are moving in your direction.
Last Edited: 06/21/2012