Playoffs: What We Know, What We Don’t
By Paul Myerberg // Jun 27, 2012
What we know: After two more years of B.C.S. living, the F.B.S. will adopt a four-team playoff system for the 2014 season. The playoff system is scheduled to run for the following 12 years. The four teams will be picked via a to-be-named selection committee.
The standard for selection will begin with won-loss record, followed by strength of scheduled, followed by head-to-head results, with whether a team is its conference champion the final criteria. The semifinal games will rotate among six bowl sites, with the national title game going “to the highest bidder.”
The Champions Bowl, Rose Bowl and an unnamed A.C.C. bowl game will comprise three of the six semifinal bowls; the other three are still undecided. Cowboys Stadium is one neutral site expected to enter the bidding for the national title game.
What we know outweighs what we don’t know. The proposal accepted yesterday provides the outer framework for the future playoff system: four teams, no plus-one; a conference championship is considered, but not mandatory; semifinals at a current bowl game; championship game at a neutral site.
That we have two years until the playoff becomes part of college football’s landscape gives the current B.C.S. commissioners and presidents time to work out the details. These details include the following:
How will the playoff system distribute revenue? The N.C.A.A. is going to be in for a major payday — one that, in my estimation, would top what the men’s basketball tournament pulls in for the institution. But would the money left over after the N.C.A.A. takes it cut go only to those conferences involved in the four-team playoff or to every F.B.S. league?
Who will sit on the selection committee? Transparency should be the goal, of course. Several former coaches have suggested themselves for a role, but I wonder if figures so closely associated with the game — with specific teams, in fact — can bring the sort of objectivity that’s needed from the committee.
Another option is members of the media, but making a media-heavy committee would give it the feel of the current Associated Press poll; polls, however, clearly aren’t the answer. In all likelihood, the best solution would be a committee akin to the men’s basketball group, with university presidents and administrators recusing themselves when their team or conference is discussed.
Will there be a conference limit? If so, last year’s national champion, Alabama, would likely not make the cut. Obviously, it’s not feasible to form a “best four” scenario — because that’s what this is — while putting a cap on one team per league.
With the primary emphasis on won-loss record, does this mean that an undefeated team from a current non-B.C.S. league would move ahead of a one-loss team from a B.C.S. league? We’ll know in 2014. While the former B.C.S. busters — Utah, T.C.U. and Boise State — will have moved up a step before 2014, you’d hope that an undefeated team from Conference USA, for example, would get a shot in the playoff.
What will the playoff be called? Let’s not get fancy: The F.B.S. National Championships works just fine. But don’t be surprised if the N.C.A.A. also rents out naming rights to the highest bidder — money is a central theme here, after all.
When will we start nitpicking this new system? Remember that outcries over the B.C.S. didn’t occur overnight; the first moment of negativity came in 2001, when Nebraska reached the national title game ahead of several qualified contenders. The B.C.S. wasn’t completely trashed until 2003 — though it’s been an annual occurrence since.
By that standard, we’ll find issues with the four-team playoff by about 2019 or 2020. Then we’ll live through it for another six years before, perhaps, a move towards an eight-team playoff. Then we’ll moan about that, at which point we’ll all need to take a long look in the mirror. If we’re all still around, that is.
Tags: B.C.S., Boise State, Champions Bowl, College football playoff, Conference USA, N.C.A.A., Rose Bowl, T.C.U., Utah
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