If Only College Football Had a Playoff This Season...
It’s New Year’s Day, and you’ve just stumbled out of bed after a long evening of cheap champagne with a side serving of more cheap champagne. There's a small marching band doing a performance in the middle part of your forehead, but you don’t care.
Nothing can spoil this glorious occasion.
There are two semifinal games to be played in a matter or hours—the first ever for college football—starting with No. 2 Oregon versus No. 3 Florida State in the Sugar Bowl followed by No. 1 Alabama versus No. 4 Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
The winners of these games will then meet in the national championship, although you’re content to worry about that when the time comes. At this moment, four teams have the opportunity (and the stage) to prove what many have speculated all season and plenty of seasons before it.
What team is truly the nation’s best?
This dream scenario—minus the marching band continuing with its set—is no longer a dream.
The problem? We’re one year away from realizing it.
After the 2013 season, the College Football Playoff will be instituted, and New Year’s Day will be changed for good. And with the way things are shaping up, the 2013 season could suffer because of the bad timing.
With the release of the latest BCS rankings after Week 9, one thing has become abundantly clear: College football has at least three championship-worthy teams. Trying to fit them all into the current BCS format, however, could be like fitting a square peg in a round hole.
Alabama held on to its No. 1 spot in the BCS, and this won’t change as long as Nick Saban’s team continues to win. The No. 2 spot, however, has a new look after just one week. Oregon leapfrogged Florida State following its win against UCLA, and it, too, will likely stay that way with meaningful games—including one against Stanford—still to come.
Even in a week where Florida State outscored NC State 35-0 in the first quarter, it could not avoid the fall. The Seminoles dropped to the No. 3 spot in the BCS, and they will likely stay there until either team above slips up. Well, if they slip up.
It’s clear, at least right now, that these are the best three teams in college football. This separation could change, and others could be included going forward, but the top three deserve to be there. The order is a different story.
Dipping deeper, Ohio State found separation at No. 4 in the BCS thanks to Missouri’s home loss against South Carolina and the Buckeyes’ 63-14 win against Penn State. Like Florida State, however, Urban Meyer’s team will need help to play for the national title.
“We don’t worry about it,” safety C.J. Barnett said via The Chronicle-Telegram. “Honestly, we just focus on the task at hand and next week that will be Purdue. All the other stuff will take care of itself at the end of the season.”
Also very much in the discussion are one-loss Stanford, currently nestled at No. 5, and the undefeated Baylor Bears, who hold down the No. 6 spot. Miami checks in at No. 7, although that will change one way or another with a trip to Florida State on deck.
There is much to be decided and plenty of football to be played, but the potential for undefeated madness—the kind we’ve been waiting for—is gaining steam every week.
What a fitting (but painful) BCS send-off it would be.
Of course, this discussion surfaces around this time each season. It becomes assumed that more than two teams with quality resumes will finish unbeaten, and we begin preparing for the worst well before it arrives.
The 2012 season had a similar outlook in terms of unbeaten teams at this exact point, and things sorted themselves out accordingly with losses—some expected, some not.
BCS Exec Dir Bill Hancock notes last yr at this time, there were 10 undefeated teams, but only ND finished reg season w/o a loss. 8 remain.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) October 28, 2013
The same scenario could transpire in 2013.
Alabama could lose to LSU, Oregon could lose to Stanford and other teams on the cusp could lose unexpectedly to create a different kind of chaos. Or two deserving teams could separate themselves by season’s end, and the demand for the playoff could be quieted in an instant.
All we know right now is that the current postseason system would not be fit to handle this impressive lineup of postseason candidates.
While controversy with the new system is unavoidable—whether it be in the selections for a particular year or the people tasked with doing the selecting—it will also accomplish plenty simply by doubling the college football postseason pool in size.
Perhaps 2013 will close out like prior seasons, with losses coming in bunches and the top two separating clean from the pack. But maybe this will be the year where the value of the playoff is on display and a championship-worthy team is left outside simply because of bad timing.
We’ll find out soon enough.
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