It is rare that we go very long without talk of controversy surrounding the BCS bowl system controversy and the impending decision to come this summer which will decide the fate of the system. This week is no different, not only did the SEC coaches talk BCS yesterday, but several Big XII coaches weighed in on the matter during the spring teleconference.
Bill Snyder was pretty clear when he said couldn't imagine the eight- or 16-team playoff that so many fans are clamoring for. Gary Patterson, being the calculated coach that he has been in these discussions, talked more about the logistics of the matter than the decision itself.
It was Bob Stoops who had the most pointed comments about his goals and desires:
“I would like to see the ‘plus-one,’ Stoops said. “I’m not for a playoff because it would ruin the bowl system and I don’t believe that would be good for student athletes.”
“Anything that eliminates the bowls, in the long run, wouldn’t be positive for college football."
Stoops' line in the sand is pretty clear; he wants the plus-one without disrupting the bowl system any more than necessary. Personally, I can't say that I hate it, but ultimately how folks receive messages like this boils down to what their goal is for the postseason.
The divergence in the goal of the postseason, is what has handcuffed much of the rhetoric surrounding the BCS vs. Plus-One vs. Playoff debate. With the BCS and the plus-one, you get a group of folks interested in crowning a champ by virtue of the regular season acting as the playoff. This group also has the interest of protecting the bowls as a whole, causing the least amount of disturbance to college football's longtime tradition.
On the other hand there sits the playoff side. The group that believes a playoff is the best and the only way, to crown a "true" champion. Pointing the to the NCAA tournament and imagining a "December Madness"-type feel is the goal—getting in on the playoff spectacle that sweeps the nation when the NFL goes into January would be a major benefit to this scenario.
Both sides have their merits and ultimately it boils down to the goal is for each party.
For Stoops, and others in his camp, the goal is clear: preserve the game as a whole while tweaking the system. On the playoff side, it is more about "giving everyone a chance" and crowning a tournament champion.
Personally, I fall more in line with Stoops. Going to a bowl game is one of the funnest weeks of the year for a college football player. The food, the per diem, the gifts and all that comes with a bowl are truly a reward after spending a year working your butt off in the weight room, on the practice fields and in film. That's the part of college football that I truly enjoy—seeing the boys get their swag (stuff we all get) and have a little fun.
There are surely things within the system that can be shored up, but as a whole, rewarding players and coaches means a lot more to me than giving fans what they want to see merely because of public opinion.
Something is going to shake out of these BCS meetings over the summer. This guy will be rooting for the plus-one, but the odds-on favorite is the four-team playoff. Some folks see that as the answer, many others see that as a starting line for a larger eight- or 16-team playoff.
It is a slippery slope where playoff expansion is concerned and opening the door may well trigger irreversible moves to change the sport.