Finally, after years of ranting, we’ve got ourselves a college football playoff.
So why aren’t we jumping up and down, celebrating the news like we just won an the NCAA Championship?
Because this is still not a true championship.
As few are pointing out tonight, this is truly just a Band-Aid to a broken playoff system in NCAA Division I college football.
Not only does this new “playoff” format only include four teams, it doesn’t start until 2014. It also appears that structure will be locked in for as many as 12 years, which is good for online sports betting sites but means we’re right where we were many moons ago when we all thought the BCS was a great idea.
Unfortunately, that took years of tweaking, and we’re still not sure we get it right every year. Well, I’m certain we don’t.
In fact, this year, we refused to name the champion because it wasn’t anywhere near a true postseason.
The Real Answer
While a four-team playoff is better than what we had, it’s not a true playoff, and, again, it’ll come down to four teams being chosen by a selection committee.
Imagine if we decided to scrap the other 60 teams in March and just had the four teams the major conferences felt were the teams to beat for the NCAA Tournament.
And in college basketball, where the teams play 30+ games, it’s arguably easier to determine who the top four teams are.
In college football, where teams play 12 or 13 games, you could have a dozen 1-loss teams that deserve a shot at the title.
Which is why you need more than four teams to call it a true playoff.
As I’ve noted before, the answer is right under everyone’s nose, in the FCS, which plays a 16-team tournament.
Even if it wasn’t a full-blown 16-team playoff, an eight-team playoff would be a better start … without dragging out the season.
Eight teams would make for seven must-watch bowl games over three weekends, which wouldn’t extend the season any longer than it is now – even with a bye week, or two (one before the playoffs and one before the title game). Last season’s BCS Championship, for example, wasn’t played until Jan. 9.
The argument that a playoff system creates too many games for the players would only apply to the four teams playing beyond the typical 14-game season most bowl teams play. And it’s not like that Final Four would have any complaints about another week after that.
If perennial powers are confident they can make a postseason run, nobody’s forcing them to play a 13-game regular season (Oregon only played 12 a seasons years ago). They’d just have to be willing to put their money where their mouth is and eat the payday of that 13th regular-season game in preparation for a longer postseason.
Instead of waiting until January for the legitimate bowl games, the BCS bowls would kick off the playoffs in mid-December: eight teams, playing the existing four BCS bowl games at neutral sites. The top eight teams from the BCS standings could earn a berth, or the six BCS conferences earn automatic bids with two at-large berths for the TCUs and Boise States of the world.
I know, it’s crazy to suggest the little guy deserves a shot at a title, but if we wouldn’t have allowed more than four teams to participate in the playoffs, we wouldn’t have had the 2012 Los Angeles Kings, 2011 St. Louis Cardinals and 2007 AND 2012 New York Giants.
Think about that for a moment.
Then think about college athletics without the likes of the 1966 Texas Western Miners, 1983 North Carolina State Wolfpack and 1985 Villanova Wildcats.
That’s what we’re settling for with this new college football playoff structure.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s better. It’s just not the answer. But at least the presidents got it half right, eh?