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Poll: is a four-team field the right playoff number?

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After decades of discussion and countless hours of debate that ofttimes bordered on the vitriolic — thank you, Rep. Barton — what was once the unthinkable has instead become a reality.

A playoff in major college football is (theoretically) coming to a campus near you.

As expected, members of the BcS Presidential Oversight Committee have approved a plan that will introduce a seeded four-team playoff beginning with the 2014 season.  The plan was presented to the 12-member committee by conference commissioners at the group’s meetings in Washington D.C.

Is it perfect?  Absolutely not, whether it be the size of the field or the manner in which the teams are selected or the locations of the two semifinal games.  I’d prefer at least an eight-team playoff from the start, while others, if they had their druthers, would go beyond that with a 16- or even 32-team field initially.  And that’s not even mentioning the likely option of a selection committee, which is, essentially, nothing more than a glorified poll with a limited pool of decision makers, or even the decision to utilize current bowls for the semifinals instead of on-campus venues.

Will it end the debate over whether a “true” national champion has been crowned?  To answer a question with a question, are you kidding me?  Even if the field consisted of all 120-plus Div. 1-A football programs, there’d be  a handful of fan bases that would bitch and/or moan that they were shafted in some way, shape or form — especially with a selection committee as part of the process.

So, no, it’s perfect and it won’t put an end to the “controversy” of crowning a champ — the argument du jour of the crippled and depleted anti-playoff crowd — but the one thing that it is trumps everything else: a baby step in the right direction.  Hell, based on where the sport was less than three years ago, one could even argue this tiptoeing into a new frontier represents one giant leap for footballkind.

The four-team playoff is but another rung on major college football’s evolutionary ladder.  For more than a century, there was either no national champion named by anyone or deep-pocketed bowls & myriad polls serving as the arbitrary keepers of the game.  In less than two decades, we’ve gone from that to the Bowl Coalition to the Bowl Alliance to the Bowl Championship Series to now, finally, a true and genuine, albeit limited, playoff format.

For a sport that’s widely regarded as being well behind the curve when it comes to its pace of change, that’s some heady, swift and significant progress in such a relatively short period of time.

I have a feeling where this is headed, but will ask anyway: did the powerbrokers of the game get it right?  Is a four-team field the perfect elixir for what’s ailed the game’s postseason?  Did they not go far enough, or did they actually go too far?

Let your voice be heard below, and in the comments section below that.


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38 Responses to “Poll: is a four-team field the right playoff number?”
  1. papabush88 says: Jun 26, 2012 6:27 PM

    4 is a start. 8 is optimal. Can’t stall for another 15 years for a change though.

  2. sportfan23 says: Jun 26, 2012 6:34 PM

    16 is optimal. All conference champions should get a shot plus 5 at large bids. Perfect system.

  3. huskerzfan says: Jun 26, 2012 6:42 PM

    And here we go…

    4 is not enough. The whining will continue, and until we get 16 teams too many people will be unhappy.

    By the way. Can anybody honestly give me 8 teams in any given year over the last 20 that actually earned the right to play for the National Title?

    Problem is, the vast majority of fans don’t attend these games and don’t care to attend them. They simply want to sit on their couch and watch these games unfold for their own personal agenda without any regard for the players that actually play the games.

    I would actually like to attend these games if my team were actually ever good enough again to go on a run to win a Championship. Even in a 4 team playoff, that is 3 post-season games my team would have to play in to win the title, with all 3 of those games requiring travel and time off from work.

  4. orthomarine says: Jun 26, 2012 6:53 PM

    Now you have the 4 super confrences

  5. cmr73 says: Jun 26, 2012 6:53 PM

    It’s not about who deserves to be in the playoff. It’s about money first and then the ability of the eventual champion to survive the toughest test of playing 2-4 games against the top teams in the country.

    The right number is 12 teams. SEC, big 12, big 10, PAC 12, ACC and big east champs are in along with 6 at large schools selected by the committee. All 12 teams are seeded with first 4 getting byes. Next 4 teams get home game vs last 4 seeds. Winners play top 4 seeds at the top 4 seeds’ home field. Final 4 can be incorporated into current bowl system or at same location one week apart to minimize fan travel to one week.

    Huge money maker …. An unbelievable 11 game TV package … And a true champion.

  6. wvucolumbus says: Jun 26, 2012 7:10 PM

    6 would be perfect (NFL style 3 vs 6, 4 vs 5) with #1 and 2 seeds earning a well-deserved bye. It will eventually go to this. 8 teams is slightly too many and it’s certainly not fair for a #1 or #2 seed to risk losing to a 2 or potentially even 3 loss team (8 seed).

    This format is the perfect elixir for those who debate a 4 vs 8 playoff model.

  7. deadeye says: Jun 26, 2012 7:12 PM

    Four is the starting point, but since the nose of the camel is in the tent we’ll end up with 6 or 8. The question now shifts from “Whose is the second best?” to “Who is the fourth best?” It won’t eliminate the complaints completely, and hence that’ll cause the number to rise again down the road.

    In the meantime people will be slightly happier with the new process as opposed to the Big Crappy System we’ve had for over a decade.

  8. Deb says: Jun 26, 2012 7:26 PM

    The BCS was supposed to end all the bickering and we see how that turned out. I’m sure this will be no different. But it’s a step forward. We’ll go this route for a dozen years, then finally get to the 8-team playoff. Maybe. Perhaps bickering is just destined to be part of the college football experience.

  9. rolltide510 says: Jun 26, 2012 7:42 PM

    In honor of this thread, I’m going to post Boise State’s 2012 schedule:

    -@ Michigan State
    -Miami of Ohio
    -@ New Mexico
    -@ Southern Miss
    -Fresno State
    -@ Wyoming
    -San Diego State
    -@ Hawaii
    -Colorado State
    -@ Nevada

    Congrats Boise, you got your playoff, and your joke of a schedule assures you get to take part in it every year. I encourage more schools to emulate your success and adopt a similar murderer’s row schedule.

  10. effjohntaylornorelation says: Jun 26, 2012 7:54 PM

    At least those old rusty wheels with flat tires have begun to turn. Whoopee!

  11. thraiderskin says: Jun 26, 2012 7:55 PM

    While some say this is just a step to an 8 team playoff, I disagree. This format only solidifies the power conferences really getting the chance to play for a NC. Read carefully what the qualifications are and tell me you can not see this turning out to be an incomplete process change. 4 team is not a stepping stone to an 8 team play-off, it is simply a massive roadblock that the power conferences will fall back on when other schools deserving of a shot get told “tough.” I can almost guarantee that the top 4 teams will be completely different from what we have seen in the past, power conference teams will start to leap frog other schools in the polls right at the end of the season, guaranteeing only power conference teams in the “dance.”

  12. thraiderskin says: Jun 26, 2012 8:01 PM

    One thing I forgot in my last post. Do it right the first time, or be in the same/worse place later on. Before this change we were calling for teams to prove it on the field, that was our best argument, now what are we going to be able to say down the road?

  13. huskerzfan says: Jun 26, 2012 8:12 PM


    While some say this is just a step to an 8 team playoff, I disagree. This format only solidifies the power conferences really getting the chance to play for a NC. Read carefully what the qualifications are and tell me you can not see this turning out to be an incomplete process change. 4 team is not a stepping stone to an 8 team play-off, it is simply a massive roadblock that the power conferences will fall back on when other schools deserving of a shot get told “tough.” I can almost guarantee that the top 4 teams will be completely different from what we have seen in the past, power conference teams will start to leap frog other schools in the polls right at the end of the season, guaranteeing only power conference teams in the “dance.”_________________________________

    Polls won’t matter. The teams in the 4 team playoff will be determined by a committee. Thus, you’ll need to throw your angst towards that committee and not the polls moving forward.

    Not sure how a team can leapfrog another unless the committee is required to release a poll on a weekly basis.

    Either way, the tin foil hat wearing crowd will have their ability to call for controversy and conspiracy thoeries to say that the committee is being paid by the power conferences and thus it is still ‘unjust’.

    I doubt it will go that way, but those wanting to fulfill their “it ain’t a playoff till we have 8 or 16 teams” crowd will eat it up as much as they can and point fingers regardless of how right the selections.

  14. Deb says: Jun 26, 2012 9:04 PM

    @rolltide510 …

    I think I love you ;)

    @my fan club …

    Hi, kids, how’s the weather in Baton Rouge? :roll:

  15. imaduffer says: Jun 26, 2012 10:06 PM

    The Nina, the Pina, the Santa Maria and a Boat load of money to be named later. Welcome to your New FBS.

  16. pricecube says: Jun 26, 2012 10:39 PM


    I concede your point. Boise State’s strength of schedule is extremely weak. I also believe if they got an invite to the Big 12 tomorrow they would join instantly. I am not sure what they are supposed to do. If their fans are to be believed they try to schedule home and away series with tougher opponents and no one wants to play them… FWIW they did destroy SEC East champ Georgia last year. Did you watch that game? It was not even close. Honestly, the Big East is perhaps even weaker than the MWC at this point. What do you propose they do?

  17. secucks says: Jun 26, 2012 10:53 PM

    In other news the SEC has convened a competition committee to achieve the following objectives:
    1. Determine how it can fill over half of the seats on the selection committee
    2. Create the impression that playing four OOC FCS teams (including a late season game) is a truly challenging schedule
    3. Continue to proprogate the myth that the SEC is football’s best conference (despite statistical evidence to the contrary)
    4. That the BCS system that resulted in six consecutive SEC champions was fair and unbiased… Oh yeah, a special challenge being the BCS system was just replaced.

  18. Deb says: Jun 26, 2012 10:58 PM

    @pricecube …

    Play in the FCS?

    Kidding, kidding. I’m slap-happy tonight. Football is all I know, so any comment I make about conference moves solely relates to football. But I’d propose they sit tight with the MWC until they test the waters on a Big 12 move. The Big East is a mistake–and it seems they’re getting cold feet on that.

    Georgia improved considerably by season’s end, but BSU plays a good offensive game. I don’t believe they’d hold up against the defenses of the SEC West.

  19. Deb says: Jun 26, 2012 11:00 PM

    @secucks …

    Yowza! Am I having deja vu or did you just post that same silliness on another thread? Getting lazy with your anti-SEC propaganda, huh? LOL

  20. secucks says: Jun 26, 2012 11:04 PM


    It was an on topic message that bears repeating.

  21. Deb says: Jun 26, 2012 11:06 PM

    @secucks …

    Uh-huh. Hey, how ’bout them … oh wait. We still don’t know which team/conference you support, do we? :lol:

  22. kozbee says: Jun 26, 2012 11:12 PM

    With as many teams playing a weak schedule they must have a 16 team playoff or we will never be able to get a true National Champion.Having 4 i know is a start but in no means can you have 1 loss teams in the shadows that played a tough schedule be left out.SOS has to play a role in who plays in the playoffs or its all in vain.Wake up BCS Presidential Committee,you guys get paid to think..Well back to my BBQ ribs from sticky fingers from Georgia,best ribs in the South.

  23. Deb says: Jun 26, 2012 11:21 PM

    @kozbee …

    You need to ask Charles Barkley and Keith Jackson about Dreamland.

  24. Tim Donaghy Institute of Refereeing says: Jun 26, 2012 11:38 PM

    Why is Bama fan knocking a non-BCS team? They chartered the Lose to a Small Fry in a BCS Bowl Game Club. Still taking out their rage on BSU.

    Send your tainted trophy to Stillwater, where it belongs.

  25. Deb says: Jun 26, 2012 11:51 PM

    @Timmy blah blah …

    Sorry, darlin’, but when Big Boys play, they don’t just give you trophies if you cry hardest. You’re looking for the Pee Wee blog. When you lost to the unranked team, you took yourselves out of contention. And honey … you guys wouldn’t have gotten past LSU, much less Alabama. But enjoy the fantasy. The trophy’s not moving. :lol:

  26. secucks says: Jun 27, 2012 12:34 AM

    @Deb – Your response to @Tim D about his team doesn’t change the circumstance that the string of BCS National Champions put together by the SEC was a complete sham.

    I’m just waiting to see how many bama recruits Nick Satan oversigns this year. As the crimsion tide has proven it’s easier to win when you’re able to cull out your past recruiting “mistakes” each year. So you know, Alabama is #1 at doing this followed closely by #2 LSU. Just another sleazy SEC process embraced by SEC team.

  27. Deb says: Jun 27, 2012 12:41 AM

    @secucks …

    Actually, Steve Spurrier is the king of oversigning in the SEC, but the conference allows a greater level of oversigning than other conferences. Frankly, I don’t have any problem with the practice. You’re taking kids who otherwise would have no shot at making an FBS program and giving them a chance to compete based on their football talent. If they don’t make it, they wait another year or they’re knocked back to a lesser school where they would have gone in the first place without this opportunity.

    The SEC teams won on the field by soundly defeating their opponents. You guys can whine about it, but it is what it is. I feel sorry for you that you can’t own your defeats like men. I’m a rip-the-Band-Aid kind of gal. Pretending you didn’t or that someone cheated you or that your rivals aren’t as good as they are just prolongs the pain. I’d rather suck it up than throw tantrums. But clearly, we’re different people.

  28. suprmous says: Jun 27, 2012 4:38 AM

    The weather in Baton Rouge is ab so tudley beautiful but wish we were closer to the Riverwalk to be takin a riverboat ride.

  29. raiderufan says: Jun 27, 2012 9:14 AM

    1. It’s a step in the right direction so first and foremost I’m happy.

    2. I think my biggest problem is that this doesn’t solve any of the time in between end of season games and the bowls.

    I think at some point an 8 team playoff is inevitable and it needs to get the time between season and bowls down to at least 3 weeks.

    It’s just to long.

    3. At what point are ALL the players going to walk off the field in protest? They are gonna have to pay them something sooner or later. This money is gettin out of hand, the bids for the championship are gonna get insanely higher as time goes on and none of this money would be being made without them.

  30. florida727 says: Jun 27, 2012 9:43 AM

    #secucks, when are you going to be man enough to accept that your team lost a game it shouldn’t have, at the wrong time of the year, and it cost you a chance to play for the national title? Just FYI also, this isn’t Pop Warner. Not everyone gets a trophy at the end of the season to make them ‘feel good’. You lost. Someone else won. THEY get the trophy. Got it?

    #huskerzfan, your original post makes no sense. In a 4 team playoff, your team would NOT play THREE games to win the title. It’s not a round-robin tournament you know. It’s semi-finals then championship game.

    I didn’t vote in the poll (sorry, JT) because I believe the best option wasn’t listed: 6 teams, using the existing BCS bowls, and a bid-out national title game. I don’t ever see this going to 16 teams because the winner would have to play FOUR more games in the playoffs and that’s too long a season for college players. 32 teams would be even worse.

  31. redsteel16 says: Jun 27, 2012 11:01 AM

    #florida727, huskerzfan was saying his team would have to win 3 POST-season games for a national championship, meaning the big10 champ game, then semi-finals, then the final. And yeah that would be a lot of travel for fans but big deal, these are big games, people would go.

  32. deucez2 says: Jun 27, 2012 12:07 PM

    If it were to go to 8 teams, end of the year rivalry games would lose some importance. For example, if Bama is undefeated and they play a 1 loss Auburn, Bama knows its getting into a 8 team playoff. Bama may rest some of their starters so they could be fresh For the playoffs. With a 4 team format, those games still matter. It would almost look like the old Colts teams that always seemed to rest players or the last 2 regular season games.

  33. bum65 says: Jun 27, 2012 12:22 PM

    Create 8 Super Conferences. Those 8 conferences decide a champion for the playoffs.

    ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Mountain West, Sec Pac-12 and Conference USA as an example.

    The Sunbelt, Mid-American, WAC, and the Independents can either disband and join other conferences or move to I-AA.

    Seeding could be determined by panel.

  34. huskerzfan says: Jun 27, 2012 1:46 PM


    #huskerzfan, your original post makes no sense. In a 4 team playoff, your team would NOT play THREE games to win the title. It’s not a round-robin tournament you know. It’s semi-finals then championship game.

    Yes, Nebraska would have to play in THREE games to win the title. The FIRST being the Big 10 Championship game. The next two being the Semi-Final and Final. That is THREE games in the post-season that would require travel. A Big 10 team that doesn’t win its own conference will never make the Final Four as selected by a committee.

    Did I spell that out enough for you to understand?

  35. kozbee says: Jun 27, 2012 3:27 PM

    @ Deb.

    Charles Barkley is not in anyway a leader in my book but i do like Auburn more then Bama even though Auburn is not my team.From some of your posts seems your a fan to the 4 team playoff.IMO 16 team is best i believe,look back many times when Bama was not in the top 4 but in the top 16 giving them still a chance at a NC.I have many Bama friends and they all seem to favor 16 teams due to being ranked at season end to still get a shot.Think about it,its more money for the SEC.

  36. centexhorn says: Jun 27, 2012 6:28 PM

    It’s endlessly frustrating how people keep acting like multiples of 4 is the only option.

    4 is too few, 8 is too many. 6 is the right number, with two teams getting first round byes.

  37. secondplaceisnoplace says: Jun 29, 2012 12:36 AM

    No selection committee. Here is an 8 team playoff system that is simple. You take the conference champions from the 6 AQ conferences plus 2 at large teams that can be the next highest point totals (see below) or they can be voted in by the media. This determines the field of 8.
    Of the 8 teams, the 4 teams with the highest point total get home field in the first round. If there is a tie in points the tie breaker system can be something as simple as a flip of a coin, number of wins, BCS rankings or media polls.
    Once the brackets are set each round can change due to upsets. For example, if team 6 beats team 3 and the rest of the games are not upsets then team 6 would have to travel to team 1.
    Teams play to determine which BCS bowl game they will be going to or they can line up with bowl agreements. For example the top teams from the PAC 12 & Big Ten normally go to the Rose Bowl, if they lose in the first round or two and are not in the BCS championship game, then they can go to the Rose Bowl. If they both win out and go to the BCS title game then the loser of the Big Ten and PAC 12 championship game could then go to the Rose Bowl. Unless the bowl game thinks it would be better to have an team like Boise State or Notre Dame, then they could determine who they would invite to their bowl.
    Every team plays 12 games and a conference championship assuming the conference has a championship game.
    The NCAA adopts a point system for the regular season based on wins which is similar to the Ohio High school playoff system.
    For each FBS team you beat you get 1 point and half a point for each FCS team you defeat.
    Each team is awarded an additional half point for a non conference road win and 1 additional point for a conference road win.
    Each team you beat, you add their points tou your total. So the more teams they beat shows you have beaten a strong team and you played a tougher schedule.
    Lets use this example: LSU beats Alabama on the road in the 5th game of the season.
    LSU gets 1 point for the win and 1 extra point for the road win. Alabama was 4-0 and let’s say they had 15 points already.
    LSU’s total for this win is 17 and would continue to grow with each Alabama win.
    The more games you win, conference road wins, road wins and the more your opponents win games versus FBS opponents shows you have played a tougher schedule and are more deserving of home field in the playoffs.
    The only downside I see if that this playoff would mean teams might play 16 games, but you keep the bowls involved and keep their conference alignments, you can still use the computers, the media can still vote for the teams they want in, teams can lose a game or two and not feel their season is over, Fans will get a champion that is settled on the field and yes college football will make a great deal more money.
    Also, you can fill the time gap between the conference championship games and first bowl games. Imagine all the football that will be played in December.
    Feel free to point out any flaws or ways to improve this. I bet we can come up with a better solution than those college Presidents like Gordon Gee who doesn’t even like college sports.

  38. dukeearl says: Oct 6, 2012 2:56 PM

    hmm… take a break for a couple of years to get away from the SEC homerism… return and it is still alive and kicking.

    BCS was rigged… this will be rigged… forget the playoffs and stick with the old fashioned bowl system.

    No playoff series will seriously be able to account for the odd college that puts together a team capable of winning and gets ignored just because they aren’t one of the big colleges.

    Until the nonsense about playoffs are finally put to a well deserved figurative death, it is all just big money trying to make more big money with the concerns of the STUDENT athlete swept to the sidelines.

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