The Case for a College Football Playoff

Daniel DeceusterContributor IMarch 23, 2009

It’s coming, and it will be here before you know it: yet another great and exciting college football season filled with controversy. College football is still the only major sport to not implement some kind of playoff or postseason tournament.

Why you ask? Good question.

We know that college football has deep tradition. The game was first played back in the 1860’s sometime, so it’s been around a while.

But here’s the thing about it. Throughout its illustrious history, college football has evolved. Rules have changed, conferences have come and gone, NCAA divisions were implemented, polls and rankings came into play, and even the BCS was formed in 1998 to “fix” the Bowl Alliance.

College football is no stranger to change. Whenever it has been in the best interest of the sport, it has changed.

So why—when a playoff is so obviously in the best interest of the sport—has nothing changed?

The answer is that a few select, powerful people have stopped this solution from becoming a reality.

The Pac-10 and Big Ten commissioners are two of them. They don’t want a playoff because they don’t want to take away from the money making machines known as the Rose Bowl and other BCS games.

In fact, the people who don’t want it to change are those on the top who control everything about it, including a large majority of the revenues generated by the current system.

If only they knew what they were missing! A playoff can happen, and it can generate a whole lot more revenue. Here’s how:

1. First, college football must become akin to other major sports, (ie: some sort of uniform divisions/conferences). Winning the eight-team Big East is in no way comparable to winning the ACC with a conference championship game to top it off.

Conferences need to become somewhat uniform so that winning one conference is comparable to winning another.

2. The season must begin the last Saturday of August and end with Rivalry Week just before Thanksgiving. Conference championships would be Thanksgiving weekend.

3. Conference champions are automatically into the tournament. At-large bids are given to the highest ranked non-conference champions in the BCS rankings until there are 16 teams.

4. The first weekend in December, the tournament starts. Higher ranked seeds get home-field advantage. This continues into the second week in December.

5. At this point, other bowls select their teams the way the current bowl season goes. Teams already eliminated from the playoff can compete in these bowls. Playoff takes a two week break.

6. On New Years Day, the semi-finals take place. Winners play in the national championship the following week. The two semi-final games are home games for the higher ranked teams. The championship game rotates stadiums much like the Super Bowl.

Think if USC and OSU played in the Rose Bowl next season. Each team would get a big cut of the revenues generated and a lot of money would go to their conferences, the BCS, and the television network broadcasting the game.

Now think if USC and OSU are seeded 1-2 in the tournament and go all the way to the championship. Each team would have played three home games to get there.

Think of how much revenue goes straight to the school—much more than just the one Rose Bowl game that divides the revenue so many ways.

A playoff is definitely coming, it’s only a matter of when. The stale arguments against it never make any meaningful point.

The regular season will still mean something. It can mean the difference between winning the conference and losing the conference.

It can be the difference between an No. 8 seed in the playoffs or a No. 15 seed.

The season will go no longer than it does now. Only a few teams will play more games, as the playoff doesn’t involve very many teams.

The bowls are untouched and operate as normal. Nothing changes except that the teams with the best seasons get a chance to prove on the field that they deserve to be the national champions.

And don’t say the regular season is a playoff. I think Boise State and Utah might disagree with you.

Remember them? The ones who both had undefeated seasons yet didn’t get to play for the championship?


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