The powers that be have finally given in to college football fans, players and coaches from all over the country in giving them what they have wanted for years: a playoff system.
When the Bowl Championship Series was introduced in 1999, America finally had the opportunity to see the top two teams in the land play for the national title each and every year. And it was good.
Realizing that "good" just wasn't good enough, college football will adopt a new four-team playoff beginning in 2014. The top four teams in the land will play each other, with the winners facing off in the national title game.
While this new system is most certainly better than the BCS was, it will most likely be torn to shreds by avid fans who yearn for more within the first couple of seasons.
Until that happens, though, there are more pressing issues that must be addressed: for one, the BCS Championship trophy (technically its the American Football Coaches Association National Championship Trophy) will be no more. The new one is going to need a name of its own as well, something a little more appealing than the AFCANCT.
The Southeastern Conference has won the last six BCS championships. All in all, the SEC has won eight of the 14 BCS title games, and the only time it came up short was when Alabama beat LSU for the title this past January. It took one of its own to beat the SEC.
In 2011, however, many were outraged as the Crimson Tide got into the title game without even winning their own conference. What's more, Alabama didn't even get to play in the SEC championship game.
The way the SEC has dominated college football of late is most likely what led college football to agree that winning a conference championship will weigh heavily when selecting the four playoff teams.
Still, until they get knocked off the top of their mountain of championship trophies, the SEC knows that any quest for a national title will have to go through them—playoff or not.
It would seem fitting that college football name their championship trophy after one of its greatest coaches. Until recently, most would agree that Joe Paterno would have been the perfect man to name this trophy after.
He spent over 60 years as a coach at Penn State. He won more games than any other coach in college football history, including a pair of national championships. He was widely known and respected for his interest in education and his dedication to the advancement of higher learning at Penn State.
Unfortunately, the unforgivable crimes committed at Penn State by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky were both covered up and allowed to continue by Joe Paterno. In response to this, the NCAA just stripped Paterno of 111 wins and laid down a list of sanctions against the football program that leaves Penn State crippled, if not on life support.
The participants in the new college football playoff will be determined by a committee. The committee will be selected by the NCAA at a later date. One may surmise that this committee will be made up of somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen people or so.
This begs the question: Why do we have the polls, then? If a committee is going to pick who they feel deserves to be in the playoff, finishing in the top four of the AP poll—or any other poll, for that matter—is irrelevant.
While it is nice to have a playoff in college football, it would be much nicer to see the participants be selected by the same system that ranks them throughout the regular season. In a world that seems to have a committee for everything, unfortunately college football is not exempt.
Maybe the real question here is: Who is going to be on the committee that selects who will be on the committee?
Even though the name and reputation of Joe Paterno have been forever tarnished, naming the trophy after one of the greatest coaches in the game is still a valid idea. While many coaches could justifiably be given this honor, there are two that stand out above the rest.
Paul "Bear" Bryant won 323 games in his coaching career, good for second all-time. More importantly, the Alabama legend won six national titles in his tenure at Alabama. No other coach has won six titles in modern football history, and putting his name on the championship trophy would be a fitting gesture.
Former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden is now the all-time winningest Division I coach in college football history, with 377 wins. With a pair of national titles to go with all those wins, Bowden is arguably one of the best coaches in college football history.
Instead of debating which of these coaches would be more deserving, however, it seems appropriate to name the trophy after both of them.
Over the last few decades, college football has followed the lead of professional sports in naming just about everything it can after whoever will pay the highest premium for the rights.
Football programs often dream of getting an invite to the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl or the Chik-fil-A Bowl. The game, and everything that goes with it, is now available to the highest bidder.
While it would be appropriate to name the trophy after a great coach, or maybe even a great player, the odds that it will eventually end up with "Microsoft" or "Starbucks" somewhere in the title are, sadly, better than average.
In 2012, there will be 125 teams in the FCS classification. While they are all technically going to be eligible for a playoff bid, only about a dozen of them have any chance at all of actually making it there.
In the 14-year history of the BCS title game, only four teams who started the outside of the preseason Top 10 have made it. Auburn (ranked 22nd in the 2010 preseason AP poll) is the only one ranked outside of the top 11.
More often than not, at least one of the eventual title game participants began the season ranked in the top three.
Even though a playoff sounds a little more inclusive and will give twice as many teams a chance at the national title going into the postseason, not much is going to change here. Ultimately, there is no way in the immediate future that a team from the MAC or Conference USA is going to get a chance to see this playoff from anywhere other than a television.