Next Year's College Football Playoff Has Issues, but It Will Solve Problems
Lost in the hoopla and endless ranting over the recently announced selection committee is the College Football Playoff’s fundamental purpose: to decrease the possibility that a championship-worthy team is deprived of a chance at a national title going forward.
Whether it—or more specifically, a room full of people—decides on the appropriate schools each season will be a storyline covered at great lengths, one that has generated a controversy placeholder for this time next season. While these discussions are unavoidable, the additions of two teams (and two games) will be a dramatic shift away from a familiar phase we’re entering once again.
Like the soon-to-be former “playoff” system, however, the new system isn’t perfect. The selection committee feels more star-packed than football-focused, the bowl tie-ins that were supposed to break away from the BCS feel a lot like BCS 2.0, and the same figures that fought against this dramatic philosophical change are now embracing it and running the show.
Ah, good ol’ college football, putting a fresh coat of paint on a 75-year-old home in need of a bulldozer.
It has flaws—many of which will become more pronounced once it is finally put in motion following this season—but the philosophical difference that it will provide with a four-team postseason versus two is significant. And the significance of this change could be on full display in a matter of weeks.
With the initial BCS rankings released following Week 8, a tradition unlike any other has already kicked into full swing. It’s “who’s about to get screwed? season," and like many years, there are options brewing.
The likely candidates early on include No. 2 Florida State and No. 4 Ohio State, two teams that will be left out of the two-team showcase if—and this is a substantial if with a great deal of football to be played—Alabama and Oregon take care of business and win out.
Florida State has a slight edge over Oregon out of the gate in the BCS, but this will change with the meat of the Ducks schedule on the horizon. In fact, it will almost certainly change if Oregon beats UCLA in Week 9. That’s how close it is.
Ohio State needs two of the teams above it to lose, otherwise the Buckeyes will be undefeated and Rose Bowl bound. Baylor could also find itself in this situation if it continues to destroy everything in its path—scoring 70 points a game somewhat casually—although the path is not nearly as clear, at least not yet.
Does this all sound familiar? It should.
This conversation has surfaced each BCS-driven season at about this point and beyond. The outrage of a team being left out commences before the outrage is truly warranted, and the “what if” scenarios develop well before they unfold.
In recent history, the talk hasn’t been realized.
Chaos has eventually come, and the controversy surrounding this strange, computer-driven system has sorted itself out through no real process of its own. The unexpected upsets have done the heavy lifting, as they did last season for the likes of Kansas State and Oregon.
Instead of waiting for these upsets, however, the College Football Playoff will help ease the concerns for a handful of teams. The postseason pool is about to double in size, which means the Florida States of the world will only need to worry about taking care of business. Somehow along the way this enormous change—the fact that a playoff is actually coming—has been lost.
That’s not to say it will come without controversy. Concerned teams three and four will suddenly shift downward to teams four, five and six, and the angst over the selections will turn from a flawed formula to a group of individuals with an impressive suit collection.
The criticism over the members of the selection committee is valid. No, not because there’s a woman (Condoleezza Rice) involved that never played football. My goodness this is absurdly stupid logic that we should be well beyond. But because the group lacks variety, youth and, yes, an active media presence.
Is the College Football Playoff an improvement over the BCS?
Despite the knocks on the members involved, however, the flexibility and added teams will create a favorable scenario. Their jobs just became easier.
Most seasons, two or three of the teams involved will be assumed. The final team will likely come with controversy, although this would be the case in any system at any size. Yes, even teams 69 through 75 feel they have a gripe when a certain basketball postseason rolls along in March.
For college football, however, the increase in teams will provide a safety net of sorts, a net that could help catch a team—like say a Florida State or Ohio State—from falling out in the future.
The flaws of this system will be beaten to death over the coming months and into next season, but don’t let that distract from the good the system will bring. And if controversy finally arrives in 2013, leaving worthy teams on the outside looking in, the value of the College Football Playoff could be on display well before it arrives.
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