With last weekend’s release of the first BCS Standings of the season, it got me thinking: will we really be any better off without the BCS in the future? In case you don’t know, the NCAA presidents have approved a four-team playoff beginning in 2014, which will effectively end the BCS.
Right off the bat, I know most people will say, “Yes, any playoff is better than the BCS,” and that may be true. However, a common complaint that people employ to back this thought process and that we often hear is that “the BCS is broken.” Well, that’s not exactly true.
You may not like what the BCS says, but it is not broken. The BCS was formed to pit the top two teams, derived by its formula, against each other in a championship game, and it has done exactly that. People may not like the two teams it picked, but those are what the formula came up with. It’s not like there is an erroneous number figured in somewhere—the BCS gave you its top two teams, and they played for the crystal ball.
Now let’s look at this new four-team playoff. A selection committee will decide these four teams. However, it is yet to be determined who will be on this committee or what format they will use to select the four teams.
Here is the problem we run into with this: what if your favorite team is fifth? Aren’t the fans of the fifth place team going to complain just as much as fans of the third place team in the current system do now?
The fact that the playoff is only for four teams does not raise the margin of error by very much, and many people will still be irate that their team is not chosen.
Is the four-team playoff really much better than the current system?
Another problem: depending on who is on this selection committee, there is a strong chance that there could be a selection bias, which will cause an uproar. Let us take this scenario: a name I heard as a possibility to be on the committee is the former coach Bobby Bowden.
If Florida State is selected as the fourth team over teams like Georgia, Oregon, Oklahoma or even Clemson, do you think the fans of those teams will be pleased with the new system? Essentially, I do not see how it is a whole lot better than the BCS system we now use.
Here is what I would suggest: an eight-team playoff. Eight gives the committee more wiggle room and a greater margin of error than the four-team playoff will. Heck, you can even keep the current BCS system to determine the eight teams that make the playoff. I think that makes more sense than a selection committee.
An eight-team playoff would allow you to use the four current BCS bowls (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta) for the national quarterfinals games and then bid out the last three games.
Yes, I would like to say thank you to the BCS commissioners and the presidents of the schools that voted for the four-team playoff that will begin in the 2014 season and continue until 2025 (so we better get used to it), but why not go to eight? That would open up so many more opportunities both financially and competitively.
So yes, a four-team playoff system is a start, but I do not think it will be a tremendous upgrade from the current system. By golly, if you’re going to do it then do it right and go all the way.