Playoffs vs. BCS: It's a Question of Abundance Mentality vs. Scarcity Mentality

Scott GallowayContributor IMarch 12, 2011

An abundance mentality would help the growth of football and even increase the number of scholarships available to high school prospects. The more financial success a program like Louisiana-Monroe (shown here) has, the more apt other schools will be to offer more scholarships.
An abundance mentality would help the growth of football and even increase the number of scholarships available to high school prospects. The more financial success a program like Louisiana-Monroe (shown here) has, the more apt other schools will be to offer more scholarships.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Dr. Stephen Covey is the author of the best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He is also the father of former Brigham Young starting quarterback, Sean Covey. Many college professors, administrators and graduates know of Dr. Covey's contribution to business leadership. College football leaders would do well to apply Covey's principles. 

Covey is founder and chairman of the Covey Leadership Center, a firm whose mission is to "empower people and organizations to increase their performance capability in order to achieve worthwhile purposes through understanding and living principle-centered leadership." He is also founder of The Institute for Principle-Centered Leadership, a non-profit research group dedicated to "transforming education and improving the quality of community life." Consider the following quote from Dr.Covey:

“People with a scarcity mentality tend to see everything in terms of win-lose. There is only so much; and if someone else has it, that means there will be less for me. The more principled-centered we become, the more we develop an abundance mentality, the more we are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition, and good fortune of other people. We believe their success adds to . . . rather than detracts from . . . our lives.”

If you examine all the rhetoric surrounding the question of a college football playoff, you begin to get the impression that the scarcity mentality is at play. Some of the schools, conferences and people that prosper in the BCS system seem to be thinking “there is only so much; and if someone else has it, that means there will be less for me.” For those with the scarcity mentality, there is only so much money, only so much recognition, prestige and only so much recruiting clout. They are afraid to allow more schools access to the money, the recognition and prestige.

Playoff advocates have an abundance mentality.  There will be more money for all the schools if a comprehensive playoff system is adopted. There will be more recognition for more schools if the playoff involves multiple teams.

BCS proponents have offered several reasons or excuses why a playoff is not practical. One is the fear of losing the tradition of the bowl season. No other major sport is so devoted to postseason exhibition games. Most major sport leagues have exhibitions to begin the season and close with a postseason of championship playoffs. 

The following is an excerpt from the book, It’s Possible! Realignment and Playoffs – College Football’s Opportunity by Scott N. Galloway. It is available on  This selection comes from “CHAPTER TEN: Enough Excuses Already, It’s Time.”

Another excuse given for maintaining the current system is the wonderful 100 years of the bowl system.  Wonderful for whom and wonderful compared to what?  The system has been wonderful for the Pac-10, Big 10, SEC, Notre Dame and more recently the Big XII.  The exhibition bowl system has been good for bowl directors and the hospitality businesses located in the cities of Pasadena, Miami, New Orleans, Dallas and Phoenix.  A playoff conducted by the NCAA should bring in more money directly to the schools because it should be run more efficiently than the third-party-run bowl system.

Are exhibition bowl games really that wonderful for the players?  Sure, there is the travel to a warm climate, hospitality of the locals for the players, amenities etc. What about the game itself?  First of all, except for the BCS championship game, there is really nothing riding on these games, but reputation.  In many instances, the incentive to win for one of the teams is greater than for the other team participating. Two examples are Boise State’s now-famous Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma and Utah’s Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama.  

With all due respect for the Boise State players, coaches and their entire program, the Broncos had everything to gain and nothing to lose when they played Oklahoma on January 1, 2007.  The Boise State players had more to be excited about than the Sooner players.  The Broncos were undefeated, playing for respect from the media and pollsters.  The Sooners, on the other hand, were most likely disappointed they were not playing in the BCS championship game.  Players that sign to play with Oklahoma expect to play for the BCS championship in January.  Boise State players were, no doubt, ecstatic to have a shot to play Oklahoma.  The result is Oklahoma’s coaches were faced with the challenge of inspiring their team to perform at its best against a team that had a psychological edge because the game was an exhibition. In a playoff game, both teams would have been playing for the same thing; the next round of the playoffs and eventually a true national championship.

In 2008, Alabama was ranked number one for the last month of the regular season.  The Crimson Tide players dreamt of playing for the BCS title throughout the season.  Losing to Florida the first weekend of December ruined Alabama’s dreams. Instead of playing in the BCS championship game, the Crimson Tide was assigned to play Utah in the Sugar Bowl.  Alabama was most likely disappointed to be in the Sugar Bowl. Utah was undefeated and felt it deserved to play Florida for the BCS title.  The Utes were angry and anger can motivate!  Again, the incentives for the teams were different.  Alabama was placed in the difficult position trying to get up for a game against a team that had more to prove.  A playoff can remedy this situation.

Over the one-hundred-year history of the exhibition bowl games, many people have developed some warm fuzzy feelings about their experiences.  The cities and the people that have hosted these events have prospered financially.  Reported salaries of the directors of a bowl game are in excess of $400,000.  These same cities or other cities could still prosper from the crowds that are attracted to the playoff games.

The great city of Atlanta hosts the Chick-fil-A Bowl each year. This bowl was once called the Peach Bowl, but today it’s easier to find a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta than it is Georgia peaches!  The organizers of the Chick-fil-A Bowl have started a new tradition. It is the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic that started Labor Day weekend in 2008. Alabama and Clemson played in the inaugural game, which was a great success.  I think it is a great idea and could be the answer for our bowl cities trying to adjust to the public demands for a playoff.

Imagine, if you will, instead of cities and bowl committees trying to host exhibition games at the end of the season in December and January, they could host the very first game of the season, Labor Day weekend.  Fans could come by the thousands to support their team as they kickoff the season with great momentum and enthusiasm. Every fan’s team would be undefeated at this point! This would be a great time to travel, the last getaway before everyone gets too settled in at school. It could mean one last trip to the beach or even the mountains at the end of the summer. What would be better about the exhibition bowl games being played the first weekend in September is that the northern cities could also get in on the action. Cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and Boston have been left out of the bowl action but could cash in by staging games for fans that would be interested in traveling to the cooler north.

Football fans are calling for a playoff and will grow tired of a bowl system that hinders a true national championship.  A national championship playoff can and will create more excitement for the game of college football.  A national championship playoff will be better for the players, the coaches and the fans.