I’ve had it with the BCS system.
It’s an intriguing idea formed with good intentions. But over the past five years, the Bowl Championship Series has created more questions than it has answered.
In 2000, the BCS put one-loss Florida State in the national championship game over one-loss Miami, which had beaten Florida State during the regular season.
In 2001, the system snubbed one-loss Oregon in favor of Nebraska, which had lost convincingly in the Big-XII championship game just weeks before.
Last season, the system produced split national champions as three teams entered the BCS bowls with just one loss. This season, the BCS nearly suffered a similar fate, as undefeated Auburn was omitted from the championship game.
As a result, the BCS has left fans playing through more “what if?” scenarios than a choose-your-own-adventure book. And when coaches and NCAA bigwigs meet again to tweak the formula, I’ll be just as frustrated if they decide once again to forego the only system that could possibly give them a unanimous champion: a playoff.
The NCAA should use the BCS to select and seed the top four teams in the standings.
Play the top seed against the fourth seed and the second seed against the third seed a week before the BCS bowls.
Then, the NCAA could use the traditional BCS bowls as it has always used them—to set up a national championship game.
This system would create all sorts of benefits for schools and players alike.
First, the amount of controversy stemming from a playoff system would be decreased because of the BCS’ loosened grip over determining the national champion.
This playoff would allow the players to have a role in determining who plays in the championship game, instead of the current system, where a computer gets force-fed numbers until it releases a national championship matchup.
In addition, a playoff system would generate more revenue for schools and conferences alike.
The addition of two extra bowls—with added TV, ticket and merchandise revenue—would make the switch to a playoff system a financially desirable one.
Besides, the bowls would bring up some great matchups. Imagine, for example, Auburn’s top-ranked scoring defense matched up against Oklahoma’s two-headed monster of Jason White and Adrian Peterson. Or imagine a 2003 matchup between USC and Oklahoma to lay the split championship controversy to rest.
This brings up one of the most important aspects of the playoff system that the BCS has attempted, but failed to address—the possibility of a split championship.
Since the top teams would be able to determine who would play in the championship game, a playoff system could achieve greater unanimity in selecting the national champion, much like the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments have done in recent years.
This system has its problems, but they would be smaller than the ones faced in the current BCS system. A larger playoff would be desirable but it would also be less feasible for two reasons.
First, it would be impossible to play more than two or three playoff games because of football’s physical difficulties.
The addition of more playoff games would cut into the regular season and could interfere with end-of-semester exams. The proposed “Final Four of football” would only add one game onto the schedules for participants during a week where final exams have generally concluded.
Those concerned with a break in tradition need not worry.
Traditional elements such as the polls, conference championship games and even the BCS formula itself would still play a major factor in determining who would play in this Final Four.
The BCS bowls would still be able to select their competing teams—with the exception of the national championship game—thereby preserving the pomp and circumstance that has surrounded college football for decades.
A playoff system is the best method for selecting a national champion.
Though the system involves the addition of two bowl games and their associated stresses, it offers many benefits—namely a traditional venue by which to determine a unanimous national champion, coupled with the opportunity to generate greater athletic revenue.
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