West Virginia Football: How the 4-Team Playoff Impacts WVU
On Wednesday, the BCS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced their endorsement (via Adam Rittenberg and Mark Schlabach of ESPN) of a four-team playoff system to replace the current BCS postseason format.
The model is still up for approval by the BCS presidential oversight committee, but if it is approved, it will essentially pit the top four teams in the nation against each other to duke it out for college football supremacy.
According to the article, the details of how the teams will be selected have not yet been officially ironed out, but ESPN's sources report that the four teams would be selected by a chosen committee, based on not only record, but conference championship status and strength of schedule as well.
The two semifinal games would be played at the four current BCS bowl sites (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange) on a rotating basis, and the national title game would be played in the highest-bidding city.
Now that the semantics are out of the way, fans are wondering how this will truly affect the college football landscape and, specifically, their respective teams.
First I'll quickly touch on the national landscape, which really won't change a whole lot through the addition of just one game for only two teams.
Yes, it will be fairer to teams like TCU, Boise St. and Utah, who have carried perfect records into the postseason, only to be left out of the national title game in favor of BCS conference teams.
But in the end, the season only changes for the two teams who win the national semifinal games—the others are essentially just playing a bowl game like usual.
Also, remember the fact that four out of the last six BCS title games featured at least one one-loss team.
So, for the five percent of you who actually support the BCS because it "makes the regular season the playoff," relax, as this will not impact the importance of the regular season—you still have to win to earn a berth.
Besides, who doesn't want to see more college football?
Now that we've established that this system won't destroy the sacred college football regular season, let's look at how this four-team model will affect WVU specifically.
Looking back, it unfortunately would have had little to no impact.
The Mountaineers have not been ranked in the top four heading into the postseason a single time in the last 10 seasons.
One could argue that WVU might have had a chance in the years 2005-2007, as Big East Conference champions sitting either just inside or just outside the top ten.
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But in all likelihood, even if this system had been in place, West Virginia would have been left on the outside looking in.
WVU has already done its best by ditching the Big East for the stronger, more nationally respected Big 12 Conference. In the last 10 years, the Big 12 could have had as many as nine berths in the college football final four.
So, West Virginia is already on the right track to earn the right to fight for a national title.
Mountaineer fans now hope that the BCS eventually will open up its postseason party by letting in an additional four teams to make an eight-team playoff.
In that scenario, WVU likely would have been included in 2007, as they were ranked No. 9 and were the Big East champs. They might also have been included in 2005 and 2006.
In those years, the Mountaineers entered the postseason as No. 11 and No. 13 respectively, while wearing the Big East title belt.
It's hard to say exactly how much emphasis would be placed on conference titles if there were an eight-team playoff—there is even a chance that the conference champions would earn an automatic berth in that model.
By then there could only be five BCS conferences after the ACC and Big 12 swallow up what's left to consume of the Big East.
That would make five automatic qualifying spots for the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC conferences, leaving three at-large bids to be chosen by committee.
But of course, that's all just speculation and a conversation for another time.
Back to the topic at hand. I think this four-team model is a great start to fixing the college football postseason.
But I think we need to continue working toward an eight-team model to include some more teams in what would be a very exciting finish to the best time of the year.
There are many differing opinions on what the college football postseason should be like, so feel free to share your opinions, hopes and dreams below.
Follow me on Twitter: @apsims
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