5 Problems with New NCAA Football Playoff System
Go on any sports site, blog, forum or stand at a water cooler and you're likely to hear a ton of joyous and exuberant people discussing the NCAA FINALLY has a playoff system in place.
As announced in a live press conference televised on ESPN yesterday evening, come 2014, we will see the current BCS model trashed. Instead, we will have a four-team playoff in which teams are selected by a yet-to-be determined committee.
It has been talked about for years, ever since the original BCS came out really. Polls would show over 90 percent of people wanted a playoff. Even the President of the United States said we should have major modifications made to the BCS.
So everyone wins right. Right?
Oh sure, we have all of these conference commissioners sounding all cheery, but I can tell you, the model they have agreed to has its fair share of issues.
Here are five of the biggest problems with the new playoff system.
1) This Reeks of Corporate Greed
Let's get one thing straight.
No matter what commissioner or NCAA talking head says this is being done for the fans, please realize they...are...lying.
You know what finally convinced all of these people to implement a playoff system? Money—lots and lots and lots of money.
According to Matt Hayes of Sporting News, the number going around for these conferences is $5 billion just to put forth a few additional games at the end of the season.
It took years to finally find a number to finally make these commissioners happy, because now, they can make millions upon millions.
They will try to sell you on their desire to just make fans happy, they listened to the outcry from fans and the media and they care about you.
Please, I beg you, do not be naive. In fact, they hope you hate this system too, because in the end, you will still tune in, so you can just tell your friends how bad it is the next day at work or even while you're tweeting on your brand new IPhone 5.
2) Wait, I Thought They Cared About Academics?
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It really is amazing how money can make people stop caring about academics, eh?
One of the more common talking points you would hear from conference commissioners, athletic directors and some coaches was the NCAA could not implement a playoff system because they did not want to interfere with students and their academics.
They forgot the fact that even an eight-team playoff would involve less than one percent of NCAA Division I football teams and the fact that the NCAA football season lasts far less than the college basketball season.
No, ladies and gentlemen. We must not have a playoff because the books come first.
Wait, you mean these same people demanding we consider the studies of a student are not removing any regular-season games from the NCAA schedule, even though two teams will have to play an additional two games?
But, I thought the first focus was on the students, right?
Speaking of which...
3) Students Get No Piece of the $5 Billion?
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Let me make this clear. I have been someone who has been against the notion of paying players. I think it's foolish to say players should earn a salary. Any resemblance of amateurism goes out the window when the quarterback makes $150,000, but the fullback makes only $7,000.
However, I have read the story and personally spoken to student athletes who receive such a low stipend that they have issues doing "crazy" things like buying a pizza on a Thursday night with friends. Simply put, their stipend from a scholarship barely gives students anything more than just room and board and book money.
These athletes are ultimately the ones responsible for people making millions. I think it's more than fair that every student, from the star running back to the fourth-string left guard receive a larger stipend.
Perhaps then, students will not be so eager to seek ways to make money that are against NCAA regulations.
4) Selection Committee
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Despite all of these private meetings (from a group that's talking about transparency mind you), there apparently was no decision on what this "selection committee" will look like that will ultimately decide the four teams that play for a title.
Will they be commissioners? Coaches? Former players? The media?!
Do we really want to see a guy like Nick Saban having a vote? Jim Delaney?
But if not these people, then who?
Before I buy into this notion of a playoff, I want to know who's making the decisions as to who will be in NCAA football's version of a Final Four.
5) Only 4 Teams?
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So if it's clear that this is about money, that they do not care about students and their academics and there are no indications a single cent will have to go into the students' pockets, why then are they stopping at four?
Is it because they know that people will not ultimately be happy when there will be raging debates about which one of about five or six one- and two-loss teams deserve a third or fourth "seed" into this tournament? Perhaps.
Make no mistake, once this system goes into effect, the same debates that came with the BCS will continue to rage on. For example, there would have been plenty of talk about which team, Stanford or Oregon, would have deserved the fourth and final spot.
The best system would be 16 teams, but even I can admit that will never happen.
However, eight teams would have been perfect. Not many people are going to listen to a debate about who's the eighth- or ninth-best. There also would be enough time in between finals and a three-week playoff.
And lastly, the bowls would not have been affected. All that would need to happen is add a few new bowls into the rotation of the ones you currently see in the BCS. Heck, keep the Rose Bowl as something that's exclusive to the Pac-12 and Big Ten.
These are real solutions that people wanted—not some half-hazard, four-team system that still has yet to really be explained to people.
People may be happy initially, but these questions will start to be raised in just a few months before next season kicks off.
It would be in the best interest of the NCAA and their commissioners to try to come up with some answers that will satisfy the people.