If there was ever a college football season that would invoke change to the BCS system currently in place, it would be 2011.
The enormity of the off-field scandals surrounding teams like Miami and Penn State overshadowed some subpar football on the field. At the end of it all, we had some of the least attended and watched BCS bowls in history, as well as a rematch in the national championship.
So much for “every game counts.”
“I think there will be some change,” Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS, said. “Now will it be seismic? No one knows.”
The possible changes already have the college football world abuzz, with talks of upwards of 60 different postseason ideas—from full-time playoffs to just having the BCS deal with the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country, to doing away with conference affiliation in the bowls.
That said, it is nearly impossible to predict what exactly will happen because of all of the different factors such as TV money, sponsorships, academics, travel cost and even conference pride.
When discussing these changes, it is important to note that there are two years remaining on the current ESPN contract with the BCS and that no changes would happen until the 2014 season.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said in March of 2011 that “if the leadership of those universities... want to move in that direction, then the NCAA knows how to run championships and we'd be happy to help.”
Unfortunately for some college football fans, a playoff including more than four teams seems to be entirely out of the question. College football wants its bowls, and the bowls want college football, especially ones, like the Rose Bowl, which carry some of the richest traditions in sports.
That game becomes particularly important because of the Pac-12 and Big Ten’s future partnership for games. “The relationship between the Pac-12 and Big Ten transcends a playoff system unless they can buy into the playoff and the Rose Bowl is protected,” said Neal Pilson, a television consultant and a former president of CBS Sports.
What appears most likely is a plus-one system or a college football “Final Four,” where the No. 1 team would face the No. 4 team, and the No. 2 and 3 teams would battle, with the winning teams playing each other to decide a national champion.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive and ACC commissioner John Swofford are on board with that plan, but it’s convincing everyone else that will be the tough part.
Changing the system will be a long and arduous process, and while little is known about what specifically will happen, it is pretty clear which plan is the favorite and which plans won’t have a chance at succeeding.