College Football Playoffs May Soon Become a Reality

Written by  //  04/30/2012  //  Collegiate Sports, NCAA Football  //  1 Comment

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Closing in on a playoff system for big-time college football.

Major college football or what was once known as Division 1-A and currently called Football Bowl Subdivisions may finally have the playoff system that many fans have long desired. Commissioners from 11 FBS conferences met in Florida last week to discuss a possible playoff system and were joined by Notre Dame’s athletic director, college football officials and network TV folks to discuss the future of the BCS.

BCS Band-Aid

The BCS or bowl championship series has widely been viewed as a band-aid for a sore that has not healed, one where two of the highest-rated teams in major college football compete for a national championship, while leaving out the possibility that other teams might also compete.

In some years the two top college football teams were clearly evident, but in most other years they were not. Thus, many fans, players and coaches are left wondering if their own schools were given short shrift in the decision process.

Bowl Games

One of the impediments to a playoff system has been the annual bowl games. Some, such as the Rose Bowl, have been held regularly since the earliest years of college football and are a major part of the sporting experience. The Big Ten and Pac 12 conferences are partners in the Rose Bowl, typically sending their best team to the game unless that team qualifies for the BCS championship. USA Today reports that Rose Bowl officials have stated they won’t stand in the way of a playoff system, clearing a major obstacle.

After several rounds of meetings, we know that the FBS participants have discussed several options for a playoff system including the following:

Hold a four-team playoff. This option seems most logical as it offers the least interference with college academic schedules. Although lower-tier divisions have 16-team playoffs, university officials at FBS schools have not been willing to have football interfere with the school calendar. Under this arrangement, games can be completed before the start of the spring semester.

Use neutral sites. A proposal to award semifinal games to a higher seed team was quickly dismissed. Several high profile programs such as TCU have smaller stadiums and would not be able to accommodate fans and media. Instead, the current major bowls might bid on hosting these games as could cities with domed stadiums such as Indianapolis and Dallas reports ESPN.

Organize a selection committee. Much as college basketball has a selection committee in place to choose its field of 68, FBS college football may do the same. The committee would evaluate each of the top teams at the end of the regular season to vote for the four best in the country. Won-loss records, strength of schedule and other factors would help the committee choose the best teams each year. That won’t end the controversy, but it would remove the media, coach and computer voting that has bothered a lot of people in most years.

Moving Forward

All 11 conferences will be hosting annual meetings in May and June to take up the committee’s proposal. If everyone signs on, then the proposal would go to an oversight committee of university presidents by July 4. But, even if the playoff season is approved, it likely won’t go into effect until the 2014 season or one year after BCS contracts with the conferences, bowls and ESPN expire. In any case, the postseason will change as universal dislike for the current arrangement is galvanizing everyone to take action.

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