A Playoff System For Major College Football?


The bowl games are over (all 32 of them) ending what some have called the most turbulent year in memory. Starting with Michigan’s stunning loss to Appalachian State and ending with college footballthe crowning of LSU as national champions, the year was a roller coaster one as high ranked teams seemed to lose on a weekly basis. Indeed, LSU is the first team in the history of major college football to be crowned the national champion with two losses.

The major college teams, what are now called BCS (bowl champion series) division schools, rake in hundreds of millions of dollars each year in revenue thanks to ticket sales, promotional offers, championship games, and the bowl games. Throw in clothing rights and other advertising options and the revenue generated each year is probably in the billions of dollars.

Those universities fielding a high ranked team can expect to reap more than ten million dollars from a major bowl appearance alone.  Teams that were selected for the Fiesta, Orange, Sugar, Rose, and BCS Bowls each earned $17 million from the bowls, an amount many college administrators salivate over.

One administrator, Michael F. Adams of Georgia, apparently has had enough with the current system and is calling for an eight-team playoff system to be introduced citing inequity of the current set up. What Adams doesn’t mention is that his Georgia Bulldogs, who also lost twice this season, wasn’t in a position to compete for the national championship. Although the Bulldogs had the opportunity to play in the high-paying Sugar Bowl, it wasn’t enough.

Some see Adams’ call for a playoff system to be hypocritical. Columnist Jason Whitlock, for example, said as much and is urging that the NCAA “adopt” top high school football and basketball athletes by providing them with a college prep education. As only a handful of college players ever make it to the pro ranks, most will graduate college with barely the skills to make it in life.

Whitlock’s call, in my opinion, is refreshing as much as it is revealing. College sports, enjoyed by millions, benefits the coffers of the universities more than the future of its student-athletes. Like Whitlock, I believe paying college students to play isn’t the way to go, but making sure that they are equipped to compete in the world later on makes perfect sense.

Will the universities go with Whitlock’s suggestions? Probably not.  Instead, we’re likely to see more money pour into college sports with little residual benefit for the players.

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