Yes, Virginia, There Is a College Football Playoff

Marcus ShockleyCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2008

Oh, you think a college football playoff is the stuff of legend? Like pixie dust, Harry Potter, and leprechauns—just dream fluff, burning away in the morning sunlight?

Oh, we have a college football playoff, all right.

What we, and the fans rushing out to buy BCS championship tickets

have, is a two team playoff, and this year the only teams in the college football playoffs are the Oklahoma Sooners and the Florida Gators.

Sure, it isn’t a very smart playoff. If the last two BCS Championship games are any precedent, the regular season is about as useful for determining who should actually play in the game as any other method, say, picking up the phone, dialing at random and asking whoever answers which teams should be invited.

The difference between the pro football playoffs and the college football bowl system is that in the pros, there are more games against fewer teams; it’s a lot more accurate when teams in a division play each other twice during the season (home and away) and usually have played a lot of the same teams.

In college football, a team can go undefeated and never play anyone ranked in the Top 25. So, choosing the teams to go to the BCS Championship is not only difficult, it’s downright stacked against accuracy.

But while everyone acknowledges that money is the problem, that is a high level view. It’s also pretty obvious that most of the bowls do not get huge ratings outside of their respective collegiate fan bases, and a college football playoff would bring in far more money. So what’s the real issue?

Like big government, it’s not about how much money is brought in. It’s about who gets that money. Right now the bulk of the college bowl money goes to the school, the conference, and so on, so they get to decide how to spend that money themselves.

If the NCAA was to organize a college football playoff, even though the individual schools and conferences might actually get more money, they cannot stomach the idea that the NCAA would be the one deciding how the money gets allocated and possibly how it gets used.

There’s a study that was done that shows that basically took two people, gave one of them $100, and told him to split the money. The person who is dividing the money can divide it however he wants, but the second person decides whether they both get to keep the money or not.

It turns out that when the first person divides the money 50-50, or even 60-40, the second person will accept the deal. But there is a point where the deal becomes skewed...say 80-20, where the second person will axe the deal because they cannot take the idea that the first person is getting so much more.

Now understand what is happening—the second person will turn down the 20 percent of money that is being given to them just because of the split.

That’s what’s happening in college football. Nobody likes the idea that the other party will get 80 percent. All the NCAA would have to do to get a college football playoff is propose a plan where the schools get 80 percent, the NCAA takes 20 percent (which is more than it is getting now) and the money will probably increase for everyone. It can be done, and the bowl system would be a thing of the past.

Do I think it will happen? Not unless I get a position as head of the NCAA.