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BCS or Playoffs for College Football?

This was a very interesting topic in the comment thread of yesterday's post about the Buckeyes/Gators game, so I wanted to expand it into its own post (sorry Wizbang Sports!). Several commenters volleyed back and forth with arguments for and against a college football playoff system with interesting arguments on both sides. For me, as a college football fan, I would enjoy a playoff.

As much as I would enjoy a college football playoffs, actually getting there is a completely different animal. Yesterday, Tom Blogical linked to this article about Jim Delaney, the president of the Big Ten and the man who is probably the one person blocking the move to college football playoffs. We also can't forget all the companies involved in the BCS and that sponsor these bowls. We have the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the Fed Ex Orange Bowl, the All-State Sugar Bowl. I don't think these companies would like a playoff system either because they would lose their sponsorship opportunities, which allows their companies' names to be associated with them. College football has become an endeavor that is so entrenched in commercialism that dismantling that would be very difficult.

Added: Let me clarify some of my comments. I don't think companies will lose their sponsorships because obviously companies would still sponsor and buy commercial time. That was bad word choice. I mean that companies wouldn't necessarily get their names in the titles of the games anymore. Well, I suppose they could but it would sound kind of weird. We'd have a playoff game called - The Tostitos Second Round Playoff Game between... Get my point? No other playoff system does what the BCS does in terms of naming bowl games after sponsors. That's what I was saying.


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Comments (27)

How would they lose their s... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

How would they lose their sponsorship opportunities? Would the games not be played?

Just like the big bowls rotate the championship game, a playoff could rotate which "bowl" would host a particular playoff game. If anything, it would increase the dollar potential of their sponsorship.

The current bowls could all be a part of a playoff system.

Question for the naysayers: What other college sport that has a "national champion" gets there without a playoff system?

Why would the college playo... (Below threshold)
yetanotherjohn:

Why would the college playoffs mean the end of sponsored bowls? Assume a 16 team format. You have 8 games played the first week end, four games the next weekend, two the third weekend and then have the final game on the fourth weekend (or maybe you give them a week off). That could be 15 sponsorship opportunities. The big game could be auctioned yearly or rotated. The "bowl" becomes a part of the playoff.

Another alternative would be to have the 16 or 8 teams chosen after the current bowl games. The top teams after the season and bowl would be invited to the play offs.

It doesn't take much of a marketer to see how you could make even more commercial opportunities off a playoff system.

The tired old argument is t... (Below threshold)
Bo:

The tired old argument is that "the bowls wouldn't mean anything."

Well, only one does now.

There have been a lot of possible scenarios put forth where the current bowl structure could be more-or-less preserved, so that likely isn't the holdup. Remember that those sportswriters are AP-associates...

More likely that the showstoppers are the coaches and sportswriters who vote in the BCS system.

Well, them and Notre Dame, who probably wouldn't be seen anywhere near January anymore.

Ok, here is my not thouroug... (Below threshold)
David:

Ok, here is my not thouroughly thought out ideal:


Divide Division I football into 32 conferences. Keep the divisions roughly in line with the current divisions, Big 10 is split in 2 etc. Try to have 6 teams or so per division.

In each division the teams play round robin for best record. Then starts the playoff system. The two Big Ten teams would play each other for their title an so on. All the eliminated teams can continue their season playing teams from the other bracket, so everybody still gets a full season.

The winners will continue in the winners division and the loser in a concelation bracket. Now we can have teams meeting each other in named bowls, each bowl would be interesting as you could be dealing with the next national champ. I suspect that more people would watch the "Nimrod Bowl" than would presently.

The losers bracket will play among themselves with similar records playing similar records so all teams get about 11 or 12 game seasons.

The best records in the concy bracket will play for 3rd and 4th in a named bowl. The winners will play for the national championship.

Ok I can't spell on the fly... (Below threshold)
David:

Ok I can't spell on the fly "idea".

A Six Team playoff could be... (Below threshold)

A Six Team playoff could be done within the current bowl structure, but 6 teams probably aren't enough for most people. Maintaining the viability of the bowl games ought to be a desired aim. It rewards the upper half of Div 1A with an extra game and an extra few weeks of practice, and brings a lot of money into a lot of schools.

The fact that teams can only be expected to play one game per week also limits the playoff options.

BTW within the framework of the current system I'd add a caveat that a conference must have a conference championship game in order to be a member of a BCS conference. No championship game, no BCS Title game.

There are various problems.... (Below threshold)
superdestroyer:

There are various problems.

1. There are currently 11 conferences (much less than the 32 in mens basketball). Each team gets 12 games and the big time programs get to have eight home games. Many of them do not want to give up that many home games. A 16 team playoff would be 11 conference champs with five "at-large" who this year would have been Michigan, Wisconsin, LSU, Auburn, and Notre Dame.

2. A 16 team playoff would have to start around Dec 10. That means that the final two teams would play 16 games total, would play through the entire month of December, and would play four road games in a row (something no top twenty team currently does now).

Somehow I doubt many people would have been interested in watching Ohio State play Middle Tennesse State in a first round game from Atlanta in what would be called in chik-fil-a peach bowl on December 9th. The atmosphere would have been lousy and the ratings would be bad.

3. The playoff games would have to be played on weekends and would be up against the NFL instead of the current bowl games played across the weekdays.


The reasons for a playoff k... (Below threshold)

The reasons for a playoff keep mounting. Boise State went undefeated and didn't get a shot at the title, because teams have to be voted into the National Championship game. Voting two teams alone presents it's own problems, especially when the only undefeated team didn't get a shot. And please, spare me the argument about their weak conference, because I agree their conference is weak. They still deserve the chance to play their way into the National Title game.

Auburn went undefeated in 2004, and their reward was having to watch the other two undefeated teams go at it. They're an SEC team, so my "play into it" argument applies to this situation as well.

The shenanigans, however justified to get the "right" (it's all conjecture with voting, so how do we know the "right" two teams got there in the first place?) team into the title game this year, where Michigan was jumped over by Florida to land in the title game. No, I'm not suggesting Florida didn't earn it, obviously, they were the right team to be there. So, why were all the shenanigans necessary to get them there?

I'm also not interested in listening to the "in the interest of academics" argument, either. The Big 10(11) has instituted that every team play 12 games in the regular season. Where are the concerns about academics in this case? And where are the concerns about academics when the Big Ten Champ has to wait 51 days to play again, meaning, they had to practice, attend meetings, watch and breakdown film, and basically stay in football mode that entire time. Sure, they took a break for exams. While thinking of the National Title Game. Guess what? In another 51 days, it's almost time for Spring Practices to start, so that means they better stay in football condition until then.

I will be the first to say that Flordia manhandled Ohio State last night and said so in the open thread last night. I also say due to the results, Florida is the National Champion, and congrats to the Gators. But the possiblity exists that OSU also had their bad outing for the year. A playoff tests a team more than once. Please don't try to tell me it diminishes the regular season, people. I firmly believe that the regular season will determine whether you get to be in the playoffs and the seed you receive as a result.

College Football needs a playoff system. The system in place now is inherently flawed, and will never work properly. The biggest problem College Football has now is Big 10(11) pres. Jim Delany and the contracts he and the other Presidents negotiated while creating the BCS. I think a playoff system improves College Football as a whole. Delany was in the playoff camp when it was beneficial for him to do so, now he's not in the playoff camp because it's not beneficial for him to do so. Looks like the Big 10(11) will have to suffer some down years on the field and take some hits in the pocket book before a playoff comes about. So be it.

And that's my 2 cents. Which is about as much as it's worth, I know. ;-)


One thing I forgot to add. ... (Below threshold)

One thing I forgot to add. Delany already has admitted a playoff system will generate plenty of money. So, the semantics of how the playoff system would be constructed are comparatively irrelevant. If the money directs CFB to a playoff system, the semantics would be happily worked out.

OK...I think I'm done... ;-)

There is an ENORMOUS amount... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

There is an ENORMOUS amount of behind the scenes money on Bowl games. Not just corporate sponsorship but also in various cities and businesses that take advantage of the local bowl (Pasedena anyone?).

Any playoff system that does not solve the money problem behind the scenes will NEVER be implemented.

Lastly, a playoff system will also be resisted by the "popular" teams who get voted in even when they aren't as good as they are hyped.

Personally, I think the whole college football system should be divorced from the colleges altogether....but that's another discussion.

Playoffs--I'm sick of the N... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

Playoffs--I'm sick of the Nacho Libre Bowl, Toilet Bowl, and Poulan Bowl.

"(sorry Wizbang Sports!)... (Below threshold)

"(sorry Wizbang Sports!)"

They're last post was on 12/19, which oddly, declared the Colts as the team to beat in the NFL playoffs. The Colts were a wildcard team; the Chargers have the bye.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think Wizbang Sports is worried about this thread.

My system:12 team pl... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

My system:
12 team playoff, like the pros, just one big pool instead of 6 in each conference.

Top 4 conference winner get byes (avoids situations like this year w/ OSU and UM would both get a bye). This year, OSU, Florida, USC, and Louisiville would have gotten byes.

The first round is broken down by conference/region to avoid intra-conference matchups in the later rounds. Mich and Wisc would have played in the first round, LSU and Auburn as well.

Second round games are broken down by highest seed plays the lowest seed remaining after 1st round. So if Boise State had beaten Okla as they did this year, they likely would have gone against OSU right away.

This system of highest vs. lowest continues until you have a winner. It only has 4 rounds, no need for a bye before the championship as the top seeds already got byes. The 4 BCS bowls (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange) rotate the semifinals (2) and the championship (1) with one getting the boot to the quarters each year (sorry Fiesta bowl, this should be you all the time, Rose, Sugar, and Orange are really the big 3).

It's too simple, there's no way the NCAA does it.

First, I have this cheapsea... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

First, I have this cheapseats cheap shot: Wow, was Ohio State overranked! Same goes for Michigan. In fact, the Big Ten as a whole was a Big Floppalozza. You guys suck! LOL (But not as much as my Stanford Cardinals.)

Second, keep the BCS rankings but go with a playoff system whereby the major bowls (Rose, Orange, Sugar) host the games. Keep it simple, like 7 teams, giving the #1 ranked team a bye in the first week, and get it all done and over within a 3-week time period, starting with games just after Christmas. Then make the National Championship game a big ta-do in the second week of January like it is now. Finally, rotate the Championship site betweeen the 3 bowls (one year it's at the Rose, the next at the Sugar...etc.)

I know there are a lot logistical problems this poses for fans--like travel (but if you love your team you'll go where they go) and getting seats (easy: each bowl site would have to reserve large blocks of seats for the fans)--but at least you'd get the two most deserving teams playing for the National Championship.

Swimming against the tide h... (Below threshold)
diffus:

Swimming against the tide here:

I can afford a trip to a bowl game; especially around Christmas time, I have neither the time nor the funds to follow a team to several venues. Maybe those of you arguing in favor of a playoff are better off than I am, but I suspect that even if you were able to afford four road trips in December, you'd find tickets to the Big One snapped up by people farther up the economic food chain.

One thing I never hear mentioned about all the reporters and commentators propounding a playoff: They'll get in free, and their employers will pay their travel and meals and entertainment expenses. They will have none of the expenses that an individual fan would.

And I rather like the idea of having 32 teams being able to end their seasons on a winning note, rather than having one winner and 118 losers. Besides, if the Boise State-Florida question were settled on the field, what would we have to argue about until September?

I saw a Yahoo article a few... (Below threshold)
John in CA:

I saw a Yahoo article a few days ago by Terry Bowden that had a pretty good playoff suggestion: 16 teams, consisting of the champions of each of the 11 conferences plus 5 "wild card" slots determined by rankings, BCS-like votes, or whatever. Seed the 16 teams like the college basketball tournament brackets, with the higher-ranked team hosting the games in the first three rounds, and with the championship played at a neutral site (thus similar to home-field determination for the NFL).

I would suggest one modification: Home-field only for the first round, with the "major" bowls hosting the subsequent rounds on a rotating basis. Let the other bowl games go to bowl-eligible non-playoff teams.

Of course, this idea is purely theoretical, as I have no influence whatsoever in NCAA football decision-making *sigh*

All of the aforementioned p... (Below threshold)
Bo:

All of the aforementioned plans have one major flaw...there's no need to keep the bowl games as the centerpiece of the playoff system. Let the Championship Game rotate through the major bowls, and let the other bowl games pick their teams just as they used to do. None of them except the championship game have any bearing on the national title in the current system anyway.

Let the playoffs utilize "home field advantage" for the team with the better record, just like the NFL does, it's not like that system doesn't work. Is it perfect? No, but it's a far sight better than the current "pick a favorite team" system.

Personally, I was hoping th... (Below threshold)

Personally, I was hoping the Florida Gators would do something like this. They flat-out stomped the highly-favored and apparently-overrated Ohio State Buckeyes 41-14, and so laid claim to the National Championship in College Football. Unfortunately for Florida, they did not prove that they really were the best team. While the Gators played a great game, all they really did was prove, once again, that Division I-A NCAA Football can never claim an authentic "champion", unless and until they establish a playoff, as is done with every other NCAA sport, and every division in NCAA Football except Division I-A.

The University of Florida finished 13-1, losing only to Auburn. Auburn, for its part, finished 11-2, losing to Arkansas and Georgia, but 1 loss is awfully close to 2 losses, and Florida cannot simply brush off the loss to Auburn as irrelevant; at the least it proves that Florida could not beat every opponent it faced. The only team that can say that is Boise State, from the WAC. The WAC, of course, has never been a favorite of Football's Snob Society; years ago Brigham Young had a number of teams with records and stats as good as any team, yet they were always locked out of a National Championship chance, simply for being BYU. Auburn, who beat this year's Pretender to the throne, was itself undefeated in 2004 but not allowed a shot, again because men who cared about money rather than honor refused to do the right thing. So, while pollsters will grudgingly allow that Boise State had a good team, no one in a position of power has suggested that they were hosed, even though millions of football fans know that for a fact.

Since teams that lose can be considered above the one undefeated team for a national championship, we should also consider that Wisconsin finished 12-1, as did Louisville, and of course Ohio State. If there's going to be a mulligan, then we have at least five teams who can all make a valid claim to number 1. And if one loss is really the same thing - as we seem to hear argued - as no losses, then we must in fairness consider the two-loss teams, which would bring in Auburn (who beat Florida), LSU, USC, Michigan, West Virginia, Rutgers, TCU and BYU. That gives us thirteen teams with a claim to the title in some fashion or another. It's been obvious for decades, but this year as much as ever; If there is no playoff, no team can rightfully claim to be the Champion.

"If there is no playoff, no... (Below threshold)
Travis:

"If there is no playoff, no team can rightfully claim to be champion."
"Teams" DO NOT "claim" themselves to be the champion. The champion is "declared" by the BCS committee. This is a much better system than just letting the AP or the UPI "choose" the champions, as they used to do. NCAA foootball teams have never had the opportunity to "claim" themselves champions. I don't love the BCS, but it IS an improvement over letting the AP do it.

It's all crap - the BCS and... (Below threshold)
Weegie:

It's all crap - the BCS and the thoughts of a playoff. First you have a "championship" game with one team haven't having played for 7 weeks. 7 weeks!!? That's over half a season!

Unless you start the playoffs in the beginning of December, with the championship or semifinals being played on New Years Day (because the playoffs would make the bowl system meaningless), then it's a load of crap.

Me, I don't really care if there's a "true" national championship. The old bowl system was much better, letting us fans argue for years about who was better and who is number 1.

You could keep the non-play... (Below threshold)

You could keep the non-playoff game bowls. Take the top 8 teams (I'd rather 16 teams, but that would need an extra week of playoffs)--that's 7 games. Pick 7 bowls (or rotate through a larger set of bowls) for the playoffs. Determine who gets the final, semi-finals, and the picks of the first round games. (Perhaps the four current BCS bowls rotate through the final, semi finals and the fourth gets first pick of the first round.) Take the top eight teams: by polls, whatever. (Though I'd rather not have the 6 or so automatic conference winners go--but even that is better than the current system) Those teams play their playoff, ending about the time they do currently. Then, the other 40-odd bowl eligible teams play in the remaining bowl games more or less how they currently play. Yes, those games are meaningless to most everyone outside the two teams involved, but how is that different from now?

This way you squabble over who's #8 vs. #9. Much better than 2 vs. 3.

Of course, I'd prefer a 16 team playoff, or you could make it 10 teams, and have two play-in games where #7 plays #10 and #8 plays #9 the week before.

BTW within the framework... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

BTW within the framework of the current system I'd add a caveat that a conference must have a conference championship game in order to be a member of a BCS conference. No championship game, no BCS Title game.

This is incorrect. Under the current system, each of the six BCS conferences chose a champion and that team is automatically included. To qualify for two divisions and therefore a conference championship game, a conference must have at least 12 teams. Currently, only three (SEC, ACC, Big 12) do and they are the only ones with championship games. The other three conferences (Big East, Big 10, Pac 10) use the winner of the regular season as the champion. That's how Ohio State qualified this year.

As to the larger issue of a playoff system, I would suspect that it is entirely workable if they really wanted to do it. However, don't expect any controversy to end because the system changes.

There will still be huge arguments over the at-large teAms allowed into the playoff. Look at the NCAA basketball tournament. There are 65 teams, yet every single year, we have to llisten to a bunch of whining about the teams that didn't get in. A playoff will appease some people but it won't make them all happy.

While everyone got all moist over Boise State, let's not get carried away. A playoff system is a whole different animal. Boise State had a month to get ready for Oklahoma. They knew it was the last game of the season, so they could empty the playbook and it wouldn't matter. If you change that scenaio and you give Boise State a week to prepare for that game, maybe things are different. The trick plays can really only be used once. After that, the other teams are watching for them. As such, the coach finds himself in the position of having to decide whether to run it or save it. This year, he didn't have to worry about that. He could shoot the entire load.

A playoff would be a good thing for football, but it won't produce any miraculous results. For the most part, favorites win in the NCAA basketball tournament. It's been 22 years since Villanova upset that apple cart. Sure, teams like James Mason do some exciting things at time, but they generally crash against the rocks eventually. Normally all they really do is knock out a team that might have provided a better game for an opponent down the line.

A playoff would be like most things of that nature. It will make some people feel good, but ultimately, not really do anything.

Steve L.:I would m... (Below threshold)

Steve L.:

I would much rather have a lot of complaining over whether the bottom ranked teams are not worthy over getting into the playoff, rather than complaining over the top two teams as we have now.

The point is not to remove complaining, because that will never happen, obviously. Everybody loves to complain. The point is to set up a system that's the most fair for everyone, then have them settle it on the field, similar to the NCAA basketball tourney. Once again, the regular season is important to establish whether you belong in the tourney or not, and what the seeds are.

I can't stress this enough: The point is to have the National Championship settled on the field; not settled in the arena of opinion (the polls, computers, etc.).

What I simply don't underst... (Below threshold)

What I simply don't understand is this. In every organized sport you can think of (aside from NASCAR...different animal), there is a tournament established to decide a champion. At every level of athletics, in every sport in athletics. Baseball, soccer, basketball, tennis, football, golf...have tournaments to decide a champion, again, at the pro and the amateur levels.

The only glaring exception to this rule is NCAA Division 1A college football, and the NCAA has ZERO control or participation in it. Every other division of NCAA college football has a playoff to decide a champion.

It's time for NCAA Division 1A college football to normalize itself and establish a playoff system. It's time for it to act like it's in the 21st century.

I have to say as much as I ... (Below threshold)

I have to say as much as I agree with the notion of a playoff scenario in the NCAA Div. 1A, I'm not sure it would solve anything. You would still have a slew of schools who aren't invited to the playoffs complaining that they should have been invited to the playoffs.

I just don't see how it would happen, although I know it needs to. Hmmph.

its not fair to teams like ... (Below threshold)
amy:

its not fair to teams like boise state, auburn, and tennessee who in the past have gone undefeated and still havent been in the national championship, or have even gotten a chance to compete for it.
92% of coaches
94% of presidents
and 92% of athletic directors
are all in a favor for a college playoff

i found this on a great sit... (Below threshold)
amy again:

i found this on a great site fans of a college playoff should go and check out

Members of our company attended the Jan. 2, 2000 Fiesta Bowl with two extra high-dollar face value tickets to the game. For curiosity's sake, we spent hours seeking to find the highest $ offer anyone would be willing to pay for these tickets. Hold onto your sombrero. The best offer: ten dollars ... for both! We gave them away to Tennessee fans, an excited man and his young daughter. What's the point? In the current system, if you are not the championship game, you are irrelevant.

www.collegeplayoffs.com

go check them out. they have tons of good points you will find right. :]




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