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.