Playoff v. Bowls
The AFP's Chris Graham has this article today defending the status quo in Division I-A college football. The argument here is that a playoff would not generate any more money that the current bowl system does, that it would deprive many teams of an opportunity to play in the post-season and that it would present a huge burden to fans who would be forced to travel to far-off destinations for several consecutive weeks.
I'll admit that I once favored eliminating the bowl system in favor of a true playoff, but I have since changed my mind. Frankly, college football is unique because its season already functions as a playoff, with teams needing to win every game to have a chance to compete for the national title. However, it is a concern that college football continues to use an arbitrary system to decide the champ rather than playing it out on the field.
I feel that the best solution to the dilemma would be an eight team playoff with the following features:
- 8 teams determined by ranking in the BCS. While the BCS is a very flawed way of choosing the Top 2 teams, it does a better job of distinguishing the worthy from the unworthy when more teams are included. BCS #1-BCS#8 would get bids regardless of conference.
- First Round games conducted at higher seed's home stadium. This would mean that the Top 4 teams in the nation get rewarded for their efforts. This would reduce the financial strain of a playoff on football fans. It would also protect the integrity of the regular season since one-loss teams, particularly those who decide to schedule too many patsies, could potentially lose the home-field advantage.
- Semifinal and Final games played at current BCS bowl locations. The championship game would rotate between the Sugar, Rose, Orange and Fiesta bowl as it currently does. The only question would be what to do with the fourth bowl each year. The options could be a consolation game between the two semifinal losers, or simply allowing that 4th bowl to have first pick of the top two non-playoff qualifying teams.
- Regular Season limited to 11 games. This would ensure that teams could still schedule a couple solid out-of-conference games without having the championship games and playoffs extend the season to a great extent. Only two teams each year would play as many as 15 games, only one more than a possible 14 (12 + Champ game + bowl game) starting next season.
If the above system was applied to this year's field, it would look like this:
at #1 USC
at #4 Ohio State
at #3 Penn State
#6 Notre Dame
at #2 Texas
Now who wouldn't want to see those games?
The only teams I see with a legitimate beef are Big East Champ West Virginia, whose only loss was to Virginia Tech, and ACC Champ Florida State, who lost four games. Frankly, I believe West Virginia is more deserving than two-loss Notre Dame and the computers agree, placing WVU #9 and ND #10. Unfortunately the human voter bias in favor of Notre Dame gives the Domers the bid. As for FSU, well when you lose to Virginia, Clemson, and NC State, you get what you deserve.
What do you think?