Why College Football Needs a Four-Team Playoff
Four teams...hang with me here! Hahaha.
All right, I know what you are thinking...somebody still gets screwed out of the NC picture with six major conferences and many others. Let me explain my reasoning and see if you agree. I'll break down the rules...then add my two cents at the end.
1. The regular season cannot lose its luster...aka each week should be do or die.
This is what attracts a lot of fans to College football IMHO. Each game is sooo important that if you lose just once...you don't control your NC dreams...that is unless others lose. A four-team playoff will pretty much guarantee that the regular season, including non-conference games, is important.
2. Conference Champions are the only ones considered for the NC playoff.
This gets rid of the OU of '03 and Neb of '01 nightmare scenarios, which put a sour taste in everyone’s mouths at the end of the season. You may have a strong conference, but IMHO...it does not matter...again. The regular season is a playoff...you need to win your conference to play.
3. The BCS will determine who gets the four spots...BUT...the system should be reverted back to a two-thirds computers, one-third human polls element.
No disrespect to the voters...but the system is screwed up. We all know the formula: Lose early to a good team (or bad, i.e. Florida :)) and blow out everyone else while other great teams lose late in the season...and you get the nod over those teams. This is just wrong.
We humans have short term memory and live in the now way too much. The fact is the BCS was fine IMHO back in the early days when the computers were the main percentage of the system. If the BCS just incorporated rule two back in the day, we would not have the grief of OU or NEB getting into the NC game after losing late.
I think the polls are valuable, but remember that the BCS was created specifically to get rid of what some consider a bad voter bias that existed and to determine a clear No. 1 at the end of the season.
I feel that the polls serve themselves at times, and we rely way too much on them in the present for how biased they can be. But they still need to be a part of the system because A: of their history and tradition, and B: to keep a check and balance to the computers to get it right. That being said, the coaches' poll has got to be all-inclusive or abolished completely.
With this BCS system (two-thirds computers), Strength of Schedule becomes monstrous! If you play patsies at home for three weeks in September...prepare to be crushed if other teams are playing decent teams!
Now there is no way to know for sure how good or bad a team is going to be 4-5 years out (like the current scheduling process works), but scheduling and blowing out U of WESUCK is not going to help you.
* Scroll down for the "what about my conference Champion" debate.
4. All conferences must be relatively equal in size so that...
5. All conferences will have a Championship Game (or not).
This is a no-brainer. The way they have it now with some do, some don’t...just plain sucks! It’s good exposure for a team that needs it (Florida, Alabama this year) and bad for a team that does not (2003 OU, 2001 Texas).
I like the Championship Game format as it cleans any mess up with the possibility of a tiebreaker before post conference play. It's that final big test to prove yourself (or not) for a team wanting to be the NC (Missouri last year). Plus it makes sure that you play a core number of teams every year (division), plus non-divisional conference foes every other year or so.
Of course the problem is with traditional rivals like OU and NEB not playing every year...but you get around that if each one won its division...then they would play!!! But I digress!
6. Shorten the time off between the end of the Regular season and the Playoff. The normal bowls would remain the same...do this by...
7. The Playoff Games (only three games, remember) should be played on a weekend pre- and post-traditional holiday vacation time.
This lets "Bowl season" be Bowl season in the traditional manner. You can sit back and get fat on eggnog while watching all the bowls.
8. The Games will be at a predetermined Neutral (as possible) sites...aka using current major bowl venues already in place with a rotation every year. ***(more below)
With only three games to play, the logistics to set up will not be impossible, but the sites must be set in stone prior to the regular season kicking off. I don’t agree to flexing at the last minute to make the "Best" location between the two schools...just not logistically feasible. Though playing LSU in the Sugar bowl is just not fair! (OK, I'm joking, but got to give a little Sooner love.)
*** Traditionalists will hate the idea of the Rose bowl and others not on or near New Year's Day, so with that fact I would concede to letting the bowls stay at their current times with a week or two for the NC game.
The reason I have Rule number seven is because I do not like the long layoff between the end of the regular season and the bowls...more than a month at times...teams get rusty as we have seen. What good is it to peak in November only to fall on your face in January? But that’s the game.
You may ask yourself why I chose a four-team versus an eight-team playoff.
1. I believe that winning your conference should not automatically put you in the NC picture, but winning your conference is a prerequisite. I know that some conferences tend to "beat up" on each other, while others seem to dance into major bowls quite often, and other conferences get absolutely no respect no matter who they beat from time to time.
This is why non-conference scheduling...SOS...and human polls can factor to give a one-loss "good" conference champion A the BCS ranking to compete with undefeated champion B from the "other" conference.
So schedule some good teams and beat them...problem solved...quality wins (beating teams that beat good teams) are worth their weight in gold. That said, the Computers need to be "open" to the public to interpret.
So this makes the Regular Season still a National Playoff. No Automatic bids...see above. Every game counts...and the best four conference champs standing at the end get in. An eight-team system would downgrade the regular season to conference play only...with a preseason of sorts...sounds like the NFL to me.
2. Bowl Season is very important to the Traditions of College Football. I believe a four-team system will hurt the traditional bowls less than an eight-team system would.
3. Though I despise them at times...the Polls and BCS should matter for the Traditions of College Football. For better or worse the bickering adds to the sport (just not this much! A four-team playoff would reduce some but not all of it) and to the commentators and hype.
The build-up for "big games" is awesome in College Football...polls and rankings help that emotional feeling grow. An eight-team system would make the polls and BCS almost mute, only helping the "little guy" conference champ into the mix.
4. It is a compromise between both BCS lovers and Playoff honchos, where everyone gets a partial say. The playoff makes the NC more legit with less bickering (what ifs), and the BCS and Polls get to say who plays (based more on computers IMHO). An eight-team system would IMHO be more like the NFL, which makes College Football lose its appeal.
5. The argument of too many games for our "student" athletes would be shot down. One "extra" game for only two teams will not hurt anyone. Three games versus seven games.
The Bad: The one big thing I like about eight teams...the little guy gets more of a say. Whether that's fair or not is debatable (aka try playing in a power conference and see how you do!?!), but it levels some of the playing field a bit. Then again...that's why there are non-conference games!
Basically I argue that the easiest but most effective solution to the BCS/PLAYOFF debate RIGHT NOW is a four-team playoff. I think it would be cake to implement on our current system. The goal always is to crown a MORE Legit NC.
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