College Football's BCS vs. Playoffs: Debating Bill Hancock
The BCS has a new boss.
You may have heard the name Bill Hancock tossed around recently. He's the new bigwig heading arguably the most despised position in all of sports.
Well, new decade, new BCS commander-in-chief. Playoffs?
Not by a longshot. They're further away than ever before.
In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Hancock stated his case for why there won't be a playoff system in college football, at least not on his watch.
In my rabid fan rage, I've dissected the article and broken down Hancock's main points. I will list them in this article, and then give my counterpoints, explaining why Hancock is simply misguided and delusional.
This will be done in a conversational debate form for your enjoyment.
*Disclaimer: All quotes are fictional*
Moderator: "Welcome fans to tonight's debate! We will be discussing the seemingly never-ending topic of a playoff system vs. the BCS in college football, and to do that we have the new BCS Chairman, Bill Hancock, and college football commentator and fan, Keith Shelton. This should be a riveting discussion, so without further hesitation, Mr. Bill Hancock has the floor."
Bill Hancock: "Thank you mysterious moderator!"
"Well I'd like to get started by saying that with the inclusion of the Bowl Championship Series, college football has never been better. We have the best regular season in all of sports, which functions as sort of a playoff within itself, and then we have the bowl games."
Moderator: "Yes, please elaborate on the bowl games"
BH: "Playoffs would effectively kill the bowl games. If there's a playoff, the focus is on the playoff games, not on the bowls. Many fans think that the bowls could coexist with the playoffs, but that just isn't true. They would be forgotten and a big part of the tradition of college football would die."
Moderator: "Mr. Shelton, your response?"
Keith Shelton: "You talk about tradition Mr. Hancock, and that's great. As a longtime fan of college football, tradition is what makes this sport what it is. However, let's be honest. Tradition, when it comes to the bowl games, went out the window a long time ago."
"Take the Citrus Bowl for example. It's not called the Citrus Bowl anymore. It's the Capital One Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl is the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Rose Bowl is the Rose Bowl presented by Citigroup. The Sugar Bowl is the Nokia Sugar Bowl. I could go on and on."
"One by one, each bowl game has sold out to put a corporate sponsorship on the name, defacing the tradition these games once had."
"The bowls, and it pains me to say this, can go out the window for all I care, in favor of a playoff system. Or they can become much like College Basketball's NIT. A second-tier postseason game for teams that didn't make the playoffs."
Moderator: "Let's talk about the components of a possible playoff system. What are the pros and cons, how many teams are included?"
BH: "How many teams indeed?"
"Eight teams certainly aren't enough. We have 11 conferences and in all fairness, each one should be represented if we were to have a playoff system. If you have 16 teams, you're adding four extra games to the schedule and then you're making college kids play a 16-17 game season like they do in the NFL."
"On the topic of the NFL, you know 37.5 percent of NFL teams make the postseason. If we were to do that in college football, we would need a six-week, 45-team playoff. Is that what people are clamoring for?"
KS: "I agree that eight teams are not enough for a full-fledged playoff. I think 16 teams is the way to go. The current BCS conference champions would receive automatic bids, with the other nine spots going to at-large teams. Here's where your TCUs and Boise States have a chance to get in."
"As for the matter of games being added to the schedule, realistically you're adding three games. The traditional bowl game is subtracted and replaced with a playoff game, so teams would be playing through the second week of January at the latest. It's not as big of a stretch as you would make it out to be Mr. Hancock"
"If a 16-team playoff is not a possibility, certainly a plus-one format is much more doable and would be a small step in the right direction. For instance, this year, Boise State would face the winner of the BCS title game. We would be left with one undefeated team after that plus-one game, no dispute. No wondering what might have been."
BH: "This is grandiose wishful thinking by fans though and ignores the reality of the situation."
"The BCS has always done what it was intended to do, and that's match up the best two teams in the country to play for a national title."
KS : "And who's to say that undefeated Boise State, TCU, or Cincinnati weren't one of the top two teams in the nation?"
BH: "I think it's safe to say that the Sugar Bowl answered that question for Cincinnati. I will acknowledge that perhaps Boise State was left out after their victory over TCU, but good teams would be left out even in a 16-team playoff. Someone is always left out."
KS: "But not undefeated teams. Probably not even one-loss teams. You're talking about two-loss teams getting left out. Honestly, if you have two losses on your record and you're complaining about being left out of the playoffs, you don't have much of a leg to stand on."
BH: "Still, inevitably at least one two-loss team will get in, and then how do you measure which two-loss team is the best?"
Moderator: "Alright, great arguments on both sides. This has been a solid debate, but we're running out of time so would you each make your closing arguments at this time?"
BH: "The BCS is not a perfect system but it's the best system we've got. College Football has the best regular season in all of sports and all of that would be greatly diminished if playoffs were implemented."
"Playoffs hurt tradition. It will be the death knell of the bowl system that is cherished by fans. An extended playoff will cause harm to the players as well. College athletes are not equipped to handle a 16-17 game regular season and the grueling schedule will show in their academics as well."
"This year makes for as strong an argument in support of the BCS as ever. Sure we had five undefeated teams still standing when the postseason began, but we have undefeated Texas and undefeated Alabama facing off for the title. Isn't that where we want to be? Doesn't that show that the system works?"
KS: "The BCS is inherently flawed, if for no other reason than because it leaves mid-major schools such as TCU and Boise State, on the outside looking in."
"In a playoff system, no undefeated team will ever miss their chance to play for a title ever again. Will there still be disputes? Of course, but they will be a far cry from the disputes we have today. Most importantly it will give fans the opportunity to see true underdogs take on Goliath, and maybe once in a while the underdog will prevail, and on national TV. If that isn't intrigue, I don't know what is."
"College Football does have a great regular season, but that shouldn't be a reason not to implement a playoff system! Don't the NFL and College Basketball have great regular seasons? Do playoffs diminish the regular seasons in those leagues? Or do they give players something to fight for all season long?"
"Let's do what's right for the players and for the fans. It's even right for the media. Think television ratings can't increase? Think again. A playoff system is the way to go."
Moderator: "Thank You Mr. Hancock, Mr. Shelton. You certainly have both presented a strong case, and ultimately it will be up to the fans to decide whose argument was stronger. So with that, this debate has reached its conclusion!"
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