BCS Championship: 4-Team Playoff Is Not a Solution

Todd Pheifer@tpheiferAnalyst IIINovember 29, 2012

Jan 9, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; A detail of The Coaches Trophy during the second half of the 2012 BCS National Championship game between the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

What is it with the BCS system?

Is the BCS leadership bound and determined to create an infrastructure that is always behind the times and disconnected from the football fanbase?

A four-team playoff is coming in 2014. While some see this as a solution, I am more inclined to suggest that this is merely progress.

In other words, it still needs work.

There must be at least eight teams. Truthfully, 16 teams would be even better.

Let us look at 2012. If the four-playoff began this season, who would those four teams be?

Notre Dame, obviously.

Then who? Alabama? Georgia? Florida? Oregon? Kansas State?

After the SEC championship game, either Alabama or Georgia will be kicked out of the one-loss club. Assuming everyone else stays in the club, you would still have four one-loss teams at the top of the BCS poll vying for three spots.

Someone would be left out in the cold.

Imagine if Ohio State were eligible this year...more chaos and controversy.

Don’t think the argument ends there. What about a team like Stanford? They beat Oregon and are playing some very good football right now.

What about Texas A&M? Let us be honest: This whole thing is about television and ratings, so wouldn’t you want to put Johnny Football in a BCS playoff?

Lest we forget, there are two other one-loss teams that won’t get to even think about sitting at the big kid’s table. Kent State and Northern Illinois are both one-loss teams.

How about some new faces in the postseason?

(As a side note, how is Alabama in the second BCS spot when they schedule teams (cupcakes) like Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic and Western Carolina? Why are they playing Western Carolina in November? Isn’t the SEC supposedly the strongest conference in the country?)

The sad reality is that even a four-team playoff will be a popularity contest. There will be a built-in assumption that the teams at the “top” are better than the teams that are farther back in the polls. There will not be a statistical argument for this discussion. Rather, it will be an extension of the ongoing bias.

In addition, there will still be a selection committee. This will still be an invite-only party. Can you imagine the MLB, NFL or NBA playoff entrants being determined by a committee? How strange would that be?

I know what some people will say. They will suggest that the computers make it objective. Sure, they do. Computers programmed by people. Not to mention the various human polls that are supposedly filled out by informed voters.

Tell me how a coach or writer is able to inform themselves about the best 25-30 teams in the country. Are you telling me that they watch 90 hours of football on Saturday? That is quite a talent.

An eight-team or 16-team playoff does not completely solve the bias issues, but it gets closer to creating a fair representation of college football. Four teams just will not do.

Of course, there will be the argument about scheduling, logistics and the sanctity of the bowl system. Those arguments have some validity, but ultimately they fall apart.

There is time for a longer playoff. Do not tell me that the students have to take exams. No one believes that these schools are truly focused on preserving the scholastic pursuits of the “student-athlete.” If my math is right, Notre Dame will have 44 days between their last game against USC and the national championship game.

You could almost fit in the football version of March Madness in that many days.

The sanctity of the bowl system? Which bowls? The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl? The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl? The GoDaddy.com Bowl? The Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl?

Those bowls?

Corporate sponsorship of bowls is just fine, but many of these games do not have a long and storied history in college football.

I do understand that these sorts of changes cannot be made on a whim. There are many players involved, huge egos, contracts, television deals and decades of history.

Still, if the ultimate goal is to make money, it seems reasonable that college football would want to move towards a more expanded playoff system. You could use the bowls in that system and create much more intrigue and fairness.

Ultimately, you might actually crown a legitimate champion rather than staging an exhibition.

Wouldn’t that be something?