BCS vs. College Football Playoff: Debating Pros and Cons of Each Format

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2013

IRVING, TX - OCTOBER 16:  (L-R) Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, introduces Jeff Long as the chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee on October 16, 2013 in Irving, Texas. Long will serve as the chairman of the 13 member committee that will select four teams to compete in the first playoff at the end of the 2014 season.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

College football fans have demanded a playoff system for years, and they will finally get their wish next year when the College Football Playoff is implemented. With that said, there is still work to do in terms of the BCS system.

The BCS will determine the National Championship Game and other relevant bowls this season, but it seems as though most can't wait to see it go by the wayside. That is certainly understandable due to the amount of controversy that has surrounded the system over the years, but there are two sides to every situation.

Even though the support for the College Football Playoff is resounding when compared to the BCS, here is a look at some of the biggest pros and cons for each.

BCS Pro: More Importance Placed on Individual Games

If there is one thing that the BCS emphasizes, it is the importance of each regular-season game. Although it doesn't always play out that way due to the wacky nature of college football, most years it is absolutely necessary to go undefeated in order to play for the national title. That means that one misstep could cost a team its season. No team is more cognizant of that right now than Alabama after its loss to Auburn.

Under the College Football Playoff system, it is entirely possible that Florida State and Ohio State could both lose their conference championship games this year and still play for the national title. If either or both of those teams lose on Saturday, though, it is essentially guaranteed that they will be surpassed by the winner of the SEC Championship Game as well as Alabama. Some may call that unfair, but it's exciting if nothing else.

CFP Con: Less Excitement Late in Regular Season

Conversely, the College Football Playoff will take some of the drama out of late-season games in all likelihood. If a team is in the same position next year as Alabama is this year, they'll be able to sit at home knowing that they'll still have a chance to play for the national championship. That isn't particularly fair since Alabama or a comparable team will have had to compete in one less game than most of its competitors.

Also, if an undefeated team loses its conference championship game, it won't be the end of the world. With four spots available rather than just two, there will be far more margin for error. That may be attractive to some college football fans, but for those who enjoy the chaos of the BCS system, it will be a negative shock to the system.

CFP Pro: Settle It on the Field

Most would probably agree that the biggest argument in favor of the College Football Playoff is the fact that it will allow the very best teams in college football to do battle on the field rather than through formulas. Essentially every major American sport has a playoff system of some kind, and there is no question that FBS college football is just as big as any of them besides perhaps the NFL.

Also, the FCS has had a playoff system in place for quite some time, and by all accounts it has been a major success. It seems like there is at least a team or two left out of the national title picture on a yearly basis that could potentially win it all if given the chance. With the College Football Playoff, those teams will finally receive the opportunity they so richly deserve.

BCS Con: Determined by Computers

There is no doubt that computers have a place in sports. With advanced statistics and metrics taking the sporting world by storm, computers are playing a bigger role in sports now than they ever have. With that said, they shouldn't be used to determine whether or not one team is better than another. The BCS system would never fly in a professional league like the NFL, and even though collegiate players don't get paid, college football is a professional sport in every other way.

Even though the computers usually seem to match the consensus in terms of the rankings, there is something inherently unfair about a formula saying that one undefeated team is more deserving of a national title shot than another undefeated team. That is the biggest gripe when it comes to the BCS, and it will no longer be an issue moving forward.

BCS Pro: Limits Conference Monopolization

One thing that the BCS has gotten right, however, is its limit on conference participation. No more than two teams from the same conference can be BCS eligible unless the No. 1 and No. 2 teams are both non-champions from the same conference. Since that is nearly impossible, it means that there is a great deal of conference diversity in the year's biggest bowls.

This rule really seems to chap SEC fans since top SEC teams are often left out of BCS bowls, but that adds excitement to the proceeding for those who don't follow or enjoy the SEC. After Saturday's games, there may be three SEC teams in the top six of the BCS standings in the form of Auburn, Alabama and Missouri. All three of those teams could potentially make the College Football Playoff next year if a similar situation occurs, and while some might argue that it would lead to the best battle for the national titles, others don't want to see teams from the same conference playing each other.

CFP Con: Gripes Will Still Exist

No matter what the College Football Playoff does, there are always going to be teams complaining that they deserve to be involved. Expanding the national title pool by two teams will definitely help to a certain degree, but the fifth team that gets left out will have an argument as well. If the College Football Playoff was in place this year, a one-loss team like Oklahoma State or Baylor might be left out as might the loser of the SEC Championship Game between Auburn and Missouri.

All of those teams can make a legitimate case that they should have a chance to play for the national title, but someone is bound to have their feelings hurt. Even if the College Football Playoff is expanded to eight teams down the line, that ninth team will have a gripe. In addition to that, now that a panel is in place to determine the participants, personal bias can come into play, and that will create even more problems.

CFP Pro: Greater Emphasis on Iconic Bowls

One thing that really stands out about the College Football Playoff is that the big bowl games will be integrated into the playoff on a rotating basis. According to CollegeFootballPlayoff.com, the Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl and Fiesta Bowl will all play host to playoff games over the next three years. Most of those bowls always feel important, but the College Football Playoff will unquestionably take it to a different level.

Also, the addition of the Cotton Bowl and Chick-fil-A Bowl ensures that two more bowls will reach elite status. The Cotton Bowl was once considered to be one of the biggest around, but its importance has waned in recent years. Its inclusion in the College Football Playoff rotation will unquestionably revitalize it, though. Now these bowls will carry a win-or-go-home stipulation in some cases, and that is only going to increase interest and viewership.

BCS Con: Cookie-Cutter Bowl Matchups

College football fans have the utmost respect for tradition. The sport was built upon it, and it's important to keep it alive. With that said, tradition has a way of making things stale at times. That can be said for the marquee bowl matchups under the BCS system. All of the top bowls are attached to at least one conference, and that limits what can be done. For example, the Rose Bowl almost always has to be Pac-12 vs. Big Ten, so there is definitely a lack of variety.

That won't be an issue when it comes to the College Football Playoff since the best will play against the best regardless of conference affiliation. That may not be appealing to purists, but the vast majority of college football fans will welcome the change. It's time to build a new tradition when it comes to bowl games, and the College Football Playoff will allow that to happen.

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