College Football Restructuring: "BCS" Is Gone, but Major Questions Remain
There are three letters that you’ve been using four-letter words to describe since 1998. These three letters represent frustration, dysfunction, disappointment and even corruption. These three letters have been recycled consistently (and perhaps rightfully so) by those who seemingly can’t see beyond them. These three letters…appear to be headed towards death row.
The “BCS” as you know it will be no more. We knew massive changes were coming to college football’s postseason, although we weren’t quite sure if this overhaul would stretch beyond the structure of a welcomed four-team playoff.
According to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, marketing will also be getting a significant facelift and the plug will officially be pulled on the title “BCS” in 2014, regardless of what form of playoff is decided upon:
College football's 14-year old postseason label will go away when the new playoff structure is determined, according to a source intimately involved in the process. While that move was largely expected at some point, the commissioners have been busy first determining the playoff structure itself.
One source indicated that the old name couldn't be attached to a playoff that will “eventually” be bigger than the Final Four and second only to the Super Bowl in terms of this nation's sporting events. The term “BCS” simply had too much of a negative connotation. The commissioners couldn't afford for the controversies attached to the “Bowl Championship Series” to accompany major college football's first playoff.
There’s a reason that the BCS brings about a negative connotation, and that quite simply is because the loyalty to it has felt foreign and it just hasn’t been very good. It also hasn’t really been anything at all. Jim Delany, who is hell-bent on keeping tradition in place (seriously, don’t touch his Rose Bowl because that could be a sniper on the rooftops), blasted it earlier this year after supporting it mightily for a long time.
"'There really is no entity,'" Delany told CBSSports.com. "'There is no BCS. There is a mark [logo]. There is a series of contracts. That's all it is.'"
And so, the BCS will lose its tradition (whatever that might be to you) and its title. New traditions will be formed, and the dark cloud we’ve gawked and cursed at will dissolve in a mere two seasons. This much we know. Certainly, this is something worth rejoicing over, but may I suggest keeping the champagne on ice for a while longer?
Although reformatting and rebranding the BCS could indeed reroute recent controversies that have been creations of this flawed system, there’s currently no concrete reassurance that the changes are in good hands going forward. In fact, whose hands are they really in?
Now, a playoff is a playoff, and you can’t discredit the hurdles that have been cleared to get to this point. My excitement for the future, however, is tempered to say the least.
Conference commissioners have struggled to reach solid ground on postseason topics and will present their playoff concept, or more likely, concepts, to the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee in the near future. There’s a certain bit of irony in that, but watching this group reach a consensus is like watching two children argue over appropriate swing time on the playground.
Each conference has put itself in a position of power (sorry, Big East), and each has stated its wants and desires in the new structure. A middle ground on all topics will be reached—at least we assume it will be a middle ground—and eventually, we’ll have a format in place. That’s when things will become interesting once again.
The controversies that have surrounded the BCS will be replaced with new controversies. Having a selection committee determine the four postseason teams involved is a very live idea that seems to be gaining momentum. This process and potential group members (and I truly feel for those that might be tasked with the job of selecting these teams) could easily generate more potential controversy than what we’ve endured in the past.
Would this be a gigantic, positive leap forward? Absolutely. Would it create hysteria, conspiracy theories or intention-based angles? You betcha.
These are welcomed challenges to bring on, and despite the lack of leadership being exhibited throughout this painful, public process, the game will be better off with whatever conclusion is eventually reached. The process of getting to this point, however, hasn’t exactly instilled much confidence.
Instead, we’ve watched those who will benefit from this change play their cards accordingly, frequently through the media, and this dramatic restructure has felt more like a gigantic game of tug-of-war with fortunes on either side.
Yes, soon, a college football playoff will have distanced itself far, far away from the John Junkers that have helped shape the current stigma in place. The strange politics, contracts and relationships will be rewritten, and the Harris Poll will seem like a distant memory, and thank goodness for that. The public will wipe its hands clean of the system that was, and we will have a new format and name to critique.
I’m more than ready for a postseason and eagerly anticipating removing “BCS” from my vocabulary. I just hope that the letters and substance that replace it will show more promise than what we’ve seen thus far.
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