The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Thursday, December 29, 2005

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.
The above system would allow the NCAA Division I-A champion to be determined on the field rather than by the BCS system. It would also protect the integrity of the regular season, while also allowing the bowls to live on. Yes, by only removing 8 of a possible 56 bowl teams, there would still be room for most of the bowl games to continue. Only a few minor bowls would be eliminated and there is no reason that the fans of bowl eligible teams wouldn't continue to support them as they currently do.

If the above system was applied to this year's field, it would look like this:

at #1 USC
#8 Miami

at #4 Ohio State
#5 Oregon

at #3 Penn State
#6 Notre Dame

at #2 Texas
#7 Georgia

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?


Blogger Madisonian said...

I like it, especially since as a hybrid of the system it might eliminate the problems of a straight play-off based on polls (bias) and those of the BCS (no play-off). To the extent that it generates extra games, so what? I know the NCAA claims it would interfere with exams, but I kind of doubt too many of the Miami players are overly concerned, and if a few exams have to be rescheduled, oh well.
Oh, and after seeing Notre Dame nearly beat USC (but for an uncalled penalty on the final play) and W.Va. struggle against some mediocre teams, they really have nothing to complain about.

1:40 PM

Blogger CR UVa said...

Virginia may not be the team it was in past years, but it beat Florida State and gave Miami a run for its money. I do not believe VT can make the claim to either of those, losing to Florida State and getting spanked by Miami. I know UVa lost five, but please, do not disrespect UVa; it is obvious that the VT football team took them seriously and got the deserved (albeit frustrating) win.

5:03 PM

Blogger GOPHokie said...

I have always been a proponent of keeping the current bowl system in tact. The simplest answer to all of this is getting rid of everying and having only one human poll. The whole BCS mess came about in 1997 when Nebraska was declared the champ in one poll and Michigan declared the champ in another.
If we only had one poll, there would be no such thing as a "split national champion".
Just a thought.
As for exams, don't forget about the team that had to go to Boise last year b/c they refused to go to the Champs Sports Bowl since it interfered with exams. Not that I expect that team to even go to a BCS playoff game, but still.

5:19 PM

Blogger Old Zach said...

CR UVA: It is hardly disrespectful to suggest that UVA is a middling ACC team this year. Like it or not, they are. Yes, VT choked in their two biggest games of the year, but they lost to two teams who are on their level and destroyed every other team they were supposed to beat. Virginia scored five points (5!) against UNC. Stop whining and thank the stars UVA didn't end up in Boise again.

5:26 PM

Blogger Bwana said...

The only reason to maintain the entire gamut of bowl games as they currently exist is money.

D1AA, D2, and D3 have a playoff system, and I believe all other D1 competions have playoffs, so why not D1 football?

Because it is all about the Benjamins.

It is a burr under under my somewhat idealistic saddle to see the NCAA defend the present system by lamenting the loss of traditional bowl games and rivalries under a playoff system...but apparently it is OK to lose a bowl/bowl name if it is losing $$ (remember the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl?) or if the sponsors are annoyed about inadequate branding (hence the end of the Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl and the birth of the Chik-Fil-A Bowl in 2006.

It is about the money, and as long as the polls set the stage for a "national championship" game without a playoff system, it will continue to be about the money.

I understand the need-financial assistance is needed for non-high revenue sports to have playoffs-but let's skip the hypocrisy about academic impact and not wanting to interrupt traditional relationships.

Let the NCAA come out and admit the current scheme is based on financial need to carry the load for the other sports, and then we can get back to important sports issues, like can BC make it six straight ODAC rings next year.

10:13 AM


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