CFB Playoffs: A Quagmire In The Making

Football is an incredible game. Sometimes it’s so incredible, it’s unbelievable­–Tom Landry

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 1.57.25 PMCollege football’s new playoff system is only a year away. I was excited to see this development finally come to about, until I read about the framework that is in place to decide the teams. Now I’m hesitant because the structure that is in place will undoubtedly bring chaos, perplexity, and disenchantment.

During the BCS era, controversy was the rule, not the exception, when it came to the BCS championship. I give the BCS some credit because it was a huge step in the right direction compared to the old system. Under the pre-BCS system sport’s writers and pundits would vote for a national champion following the bowl season. This format obviously left a lot to be desired because the best teams may never play one another. In fact, in many cases this system left the championship in dispute.

The BCS promised to fix this major oversight by giving college football fans an undisputed national champion, and for a little bit it did provide a nice alternative to the old system. However, it did not take long for the BCS system’s subjectivity and bias to rear it ugly head. As stated above, “during the BCS era controversy was the rule, not the exception….” This is seen in a number of championship selection controversies that ran throughout the 16-year existence of the BCS.

Now, a playoff is set to debut in 2014. Oddly enough, the executive director of the college football playoff committee is Bill Hancock; a man who happens to chair the BCS and was a long time critic of a collegiate playoff. This raises a huge red flag, to me. A man who spent years disparaging a playoff is now set to run the entire system. It seems to me that the establishment really doesn’t want a playoff.

Evidence of the establishment’s aversion to a playoff is apparent in how teams get into the postseason and the number of teams included. First, teams don’t go to the playoffs by winning conference titles or attaining a high ranking. Instead a committee will select the teams. Second, only a field of four will make the playoffs, not a collection of six or eight elite teams. It’s a sure bet that some great teams will be overlooked by the selection committee.

There is a myriad of ways a playoff system could have been set up. I would wager that a group of fans from “Any Bar, USA” could have came up with a more compelling playoff structure than what the establishment “experts” did.

The system announced by Mr. Hancock doesn’t let the gridiron decided which teams are in the playoffs. It turns the decision over to “powerbrokers”. This makes no sense; it would have been easier, and wiser, to build upon what is in place. Design a playoff that allows teams to control their own destiny. If teams win their respective conferences; then they will go to a BCS bowl based on existing tie-ins. For non-automatic qualifying conferences, there are BCS at-large berths available that allows those teams from weaker conference a shot at reaching the BCS ( or the new playoff system).

Simply put, reach a BCS bowl and you play for a playoff spot. Win your bowl game, plus one, and earn an opportunity to play for the Coaches’ Trophy. What Bill Hancock and the NCAA gave us is a system that will cause problems and unquestionably shutout viable teams.

I foresee this system being a fiasco that will spiral to a dilemma. Instead of consistently having a clear and incontrovertible champion, we will have teams crowned in the miasma of controversy because the selection committee overlooked a top-notch contender. It’s clear the “powers-that-be” missed a golden opportunity to–once and for all–terminate any dispute surrounding a college football national champion. The new playoff system is a quagmire in the making.


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