In June 2012, 12 college presidents met and changed the college football system for the national championship. Now a committee will decide the top four teams in the country and put them in a playoff-style format. In the past, end-of-year rankings, determined by a combination of votes and computer analysis, pitted the number 1 vs. the number 2 seed — picks which were almost always controversial.
The new playoff kicks off in 2014 and will continue through the 2025 season. We think it’s a step in the right direction, but with some reservations. Here’s our take…
1. Hooray for removing the AQ distinction! In 2014, the Automatic Qualifier distinction will disappear. Now all schools in all conferences will have a shot at the “big” bowls. That’s a huge win for football fans around the country.
2. Is a 4-team playoff enough? While the new playoff format is certainly better than what we had before, it’s more a mini-playoff than a true playoff. Selection by committee is never as powerful as proof on the field. No matter what happens, committee selection of just 4 teams will likely be rife with controversy as football fans argue about the committee members’ biases. We’d prefer an 8-team playoff: there’s less room for argument and the winner gets it fair and square.
3. What will happen with the money? The board members haven’t concluded exactly what will happen financially, but they did decide that the system will follow the general principles of: “(1) reward conferences for success on the field, (2) accommodate teams’ expenses, (3) acknowledge marketplace factors, (4) reward academic performance of student athletes.” The support of scholarship is admirable and awarding winners is a common sense principle. Since the details are being worked out, it remains to be seen how well these intentions will be implemented.
Taken as a whole, the new college playoff format seems to be a more fair approach to the national championship title. What are your thoughts?
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It remains to be seen who will rise to the top, but here are three sure-fire losers in the deal…
1. The Big Ten Conference. The Big Ten is no longer so big. Its Midwestern programs are popular because of history, not because they’ve been all that impressive in the past decade or so. They’ve only had teams in the top 4 six times over the past 14 years since the BCS began — not a great ratio for an AQ conference.
2. Notre Dame. Notre Dame is college football’s original independent and one of the most storied programs in the country. They get play and publicity because of their history, but they haven’t had a top-4 finish since the BCS’s inception. Now they’re about to become even less influential, as all eyes will focus on the playoff as the final word on football dominance.
3. The Rose Bowl. What used to be the granddaddy of all bowl games is now not nearly as important. When the Champions Bowl comes to town, the Rose Bowl will pale in comparison.
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