There was plenty of controversy this offseason surrounding the coming playoff and how things would be structured. Schools were fighting for access, pushing for requirements and ultimately looking out for their best interests. One measure that passed through rather quietly, to everyone but the non-BCS crowd, was the removal of the two-team restriction. Come 2014 there will no longer be the arbitrary cap enforced.
This season's Top 10 and SEC performance proves exactly why that artificial ceiling had to go. Currently, not including Alabama, there are four SEC teams that would be "BCS Bowl Eligible" if the games did the picking right now. Plus a fifth team hanging on the fringe at No. 15, one spot ahead of the Big Ten's top-ranked team, Nebraska.
Under the current structure, only one of those four teams can go to a BCS bowl, assuming the Crimson Tide go as well. Thankfully, more of these teams will have access once the new system gets going. After the four teams are selected for the playoff, the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and the new Champions Bowl will get to have their pick over the SEC's teams.
If Louisville ends up in the Fiesta Bowl and Oklahoma gets to go to the Champions Bowl, then the SEC could be looking at spots opposite three conferences in the Sugar, Fiesta, Orange and their own Champions Bowl. ACC, Big East and Big 12; plus whoever they pull into the Sugar Bowl, possibly Clemson.
That's good news for the conference, for the bowls and more importantly, for fans of the game. Better teams deserve to be put on display. Better teams help sellout bowl games. Better teams being rewarded is what this is all about, and by removing the restrictions we'll be seeing more, better teams playing one another.
Does the removal of the restriction make it tougher for other people to join the party? Not really. Just be good at football and you'll get invited. Eliminating the restriction, much like dumping the autobids opens up room for better teams to get involved. Certainly, there will be conference tie-ins to contend with, but now at least good teams will be rewarded instead of punished for playing in a tough conference.
Better matchups and a better pool of teams is a good thing. Forcing teams to be among the top in the nation to head to a big bowl, while not hammering them for being in a good league is a plus. Getting a shot at Florida State-Georgia, Oklahoma-LSU, Louisville-South Carolina and Clemson-Florida, all in one year, is a positive for the sport and removing the restrictions allows for it.
College football is a sport that is cyclical. The push to limit one conference could, down the road, ultimately hamper your league. Better to open the access to the best teams than to limit access for a league out of fear.
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