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Buh-bye BCS, hello College Football Playoff

Death to the BcS

The death Friday night of one system used to determine the best team in college football officially — and thankfully — gave birth to a new one.

Florida State’s thrilling 34-31 win over Auburn closed the book on the 2013 season, bringing with it an end to the controversial 16-year run of the Bowl Championship Series.  In its place beginning with the 2014 season will be the aptly-named College Football Playoff, a system that’s been more than a decade in the making.

For those who are unaware or have simply forgotten, the CFP will feature four teams (for now) that will be selected by a committee consisting of former athletic directors, coaches, a media member — and an ex-Secretary of State.  The championship game will be bid out to different cities — Arlington in 2015 (following 2014 season), Glendale in 2016 and Tampa in 2017 have already been announced — while the two annual semifinal games will rotate among six bowls: the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A.

The Jan. 1, 2015, semifinals will be hosted by the Rose and Sugar Bowls.

While there’s certainly a sense of excitement swirling around the CFP, there’s also, as is ofttimes the case when change is involved, some trepidation.  Below are but a few of the pluses and minuses of the new system that will be used going forward to crown a national champion.

Simply put, four teams vying for a national championship is better than just two.  Personally, I’ll feel much more comfortable arguing over which are the fourth-/fifth-best teams than the second-/third-best under the old system.  The more teams you have in the field, the less chance that a deserving team gets snubbed.  At least, in theory that’s the way it works.

The fact there are “only” four teams is viewed by some as a negative.  Many people, myself included, thought the field should’ve been pushed to eight teams right out of the gate; still others thought 16 teams was the way to go.  The current contract calls for a four-team playoff through whole of the 12-year agreement.  My guess?  Roughly midway through that 12-year deal, the powers-that-be will realize how much money is being generated by the four-team playoff, will realize how much additional money could be stuffed into its coffers by adding more teams to the playoff, and will increase the field to eight around the year 2020.

No current coaches being involved in picking the teams vying for the title of FBS champion may be the single greatest development wrought by the CFP.  One of the most unnecessary injustices of the BCS was including a poll whose voters consisted solely of coaches — or people in the football program voting for their coaches.  With the exception of bye weeks, a head coach’s sole focus on game day is on that day’s opponent. It’s utterly impossible for a head football coach at a major FBS program to be asked to make accurate judgments on which teams should be ranked where.  Add in the inherent biases for teams in their own conference, and the coaches’ poll was rife with inconsistencies and made a further mockery of the easily-mocked BCS.  Good riddance, coaches’ poll; you will not be missed.

Out with the coaches, in with a narrower, just-as-human element.  Out of all the issues, pro and con, when it comes to the CFP, the selection committee is the one that will receive the most attention both positively and negatively because it’s the single-most important facet of the playoff, the linchpin for the entire process.  As humans will serve as the sole arbiters of who’s in and who’s out, you have to think that bias, on some level, will still be in play.  Yes, committee members will have the ability to recuse themselves when there’s a conflict of interest on a particular team, but the perception is that “Guy X” — or “Gal X” in the case of Condoleezza Rice — will attempt to impact the process based on previous or current relationships.  How the group will determine the four playoff participants is a work in progress and a source of worry for some.  It’s not all bad when it comes to the selection committee, though.  The select members have either a deep background in the game of football or an in-depth knowledge of it or both.  They will spend hour after hour after hour during the season debating and discussing and, ultimately, selecting the four teams that will qualify for the playoffs.  Best of all, the group won’t release its first set of “rankings” until the midseason; another way the coaches’ poll got it wrong was selecting a preseason Top 25 and adjusting from there.  Still, this selection committee will be among the most scrutinized group in the history of sports, especially during the first year or two as everyone feels their way through what could be an awkward — and controversial — beginning.

For those who enjoy postseason college football, the CFP will be a boon.  Of course, you will have the semifinals serving as two games above the previous norm.  Additionally, and as fallout from the creation of the CFP, the five non-power conferences — the AAC, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt — have created their own set of bowl games in addition to the 35 “traditional” bowls.  Essentially, you’ll have upwards of 40 or more postseason games beginning in 2014.  Whether that’s about 15-20 too many is another argument for another day.

Pro-BCS folks would argue that a playoff will diminish the importance of what’s easily the most meaningful regular season in all of sports.  Forget the fact that, theoretically, more games during the regular season will become important because four spots will be available in this new format instead of a mere two.  Also forget the fact that there are now seven prime bowl games instead of the five BCS bowls for which to qualify; anti-playoff proponents espouse the fear that the first three months of the season will be watered down because of the CFP.  That won’t happen, but it’s certainly a scare tactic that’s used incessantly — and misguidedly — by the anti-playoff crowd.

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31 Responses to “Buh-bye BCS, hello College Football Playoff”
  1. villain612 says: Jan 7, 2014 5:29 PM

    This will sound different but I always thought 6 teams would be ideal. The top 2 spots get byes just like in the NFL. Keeps the regular season ultra important, expands to just enough teams to make a 3 round tournament, and also rewards the top 2 teams with a bye.

  2. kiopta1 says: Jan 7, 2014 5:33 PM

    It will eventually go to 8 teams but I don’t think that will happen for years and it shouldn’t be more than that. I also feel SOS should play a major role. If you can’t play at least 3 top 25 you have no business in top 5.

  3. detectivejimmymcnulty says: Jan 7, 2014 5:39 PM

    I agree it should be 4 but will end up at 8 or more because of the money involved. It’s time to call a spade a spade, and college football is a business. Academics and arrests really don’t mean much anymore because money runs the sport now.

  4. Deb says: Jan 7, 2014 5:54 PM

    Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton … and Chick-fil-A? Couldn’t they call it the Nugget Bowl, or some other fitting one-word name?

    Anyway … yessss to playoffs!! Let’s hope the jump to eight or 12 teams comes sooner rather than later. And since the NFL is talking about eliminating division winners and seeding by record, that should inspire the College Powers to forget any thought of selecting conference champions only. This should be about selecting the best teams regardless of conference and letting them battle it out on the field in a football version of March Madness. Let this be the first step to true playoffs!

  5. fsu01 says: Jan 7, 2014 5:54 PM

    Bitter-Sweet end to this era. Loved watching FSU win the title, but this morning I woke up to a sad reality: seven more months until the start of the college football season. This turning of a page represents a new way of viewing college football and new records and new discussions to be had. Again we will have this long drought known as the off season to wait for it.

  6. midtec2005 says: Jan 7, 2014 6:19 PM

    I have a couple different thoughts on this, but overall I think it’s a step in the right direction.

    I think they should have kept the BCS ranking system for now, and just used the top 4 teams to decide the playoff. The selection committee is extremely unnecessary and is already creating screams of bias and corruption. It is comprised mostly of SEC folks, there are some representatives from other major conferences, but NONE from the big 10. It is stupid to open the whole process up to this kind of scrutiny.

    My other thought is that 8 teams is the MINIMUM number to get this truly right. Then you have all 6 AQ conference champions get automatic bids, and two at-large teams. That keeps fans of all of the conferences happy and ensures the best teams all get in. My preference would be 16 teams, with the conference champions in from every D-1 conference, and some at-large bids.

  7. midtec2005 says: Jan 7, 2014 6:23 PM

    Another thing, 8 or even 16 teams is not to many. I’m so sick of those arguments. They are proven wrong every single year by every division not named the fbs. The fcs, for example, had a 24 team playoff this year. Those kids had to get through their final exams too but somehow they could figure it out. FBS teams can figure it out too.

  8. mvktr2 says: Jan 7, 2014 6:44 PM

    Good! Now lets get to expanding it to 8 then 16 teams. The reality is the #9 team in the country is usually good enough to make a run at it, the #17 not so much.

    Also a 4 team field makes it easier for the SEC as they’re the odds on favorite to have 2 top 4 type teams if any conference does. However the SEC is coming/has come back to the pack some, sort of how it was before this amazing BCS run, but still the best conference.

  9. halbert53 says: Jan 7, 2014 6:53 PM

    I prefer 6 with byes for top 2.

    Most of SEC fans I know hated the BCS, especially those whose favorite teams were in the SEC West, and they hate that not all major conferences have a conference championship game.

    Most of all, with just two slots, we resented ND being able to cherry pick its schedule and polls that show obvious bias to tOSU, UT and Oregon. Even this morning, on this site, there was a preseason ranking that listed tOSU No. 1 for next fall when there is no credible basis for that.

    People want their team to win the NC, but other than obnoxious fans, they want a team to EARN the title and not get the title because of a cupcake schedule.

    This year, the best two teams played in the NC game but that hasn’t always been the case. Both teams earned the right to be there and at the end both teams knew they had been in a war. I didn’t support FSU but I don’t resent their win because they EARNED the win and the NC.

    I wish the playoff had been in effect this year so that MSU would have had a chance to do on the field what it was unable to do in the BCS rankings.

    Going forward it is going to be extremely difficult to have an undefeated NC.

    But, ND is beefing up its schedule, realignment of the Big 10 means tOSU will have a tougher schedule and the balance of power within the PAC 12 is shifting.

    What all this means , hopefully, is that a field of deserving teams will be selected and that tougher schedules will keep pretenders out of the playoffs.

  10. irishdodger says: Jan 7, 2014 7:34 PM

    Thank God they are getting rid of the Coaches’ Poll. It was the least legitimate most biased poll ever.

  11. imaduffer says: Jan 7, 2014 7:35 PM

    The new system will be a bigger joke than the BCS. The people picking the teams will all have an agenda and all you will have to do is follow the money.

  12. thirty2ncountin says: Jan 7, 2014 7:49 PM

    So long as people’s opinions decide who’s in or out of the playoff it will always be a broken system. Conference champions only though I will cede to one or two wild card teams.

  13. midtec2005 says: Jan 7, 2014 8:18 PM

    Also, if there are multiple teams from the same conference, they should be on the same side of the bracket. No one wants a LSU-Alabama repeat, except LSU and Alabama fans.

  14. longtallsam says: Jan 7, 2014 9:41 PM

    Deb says: Jan 7, 2014 5:54 PM
    Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton … and Chick-fil-A? Couldn’t they call it the Nugget Bowl, or some other fitting one-word name?

    Deb, it should be the Peach Bowl. For years, that’s what it was, then it became the Chic-fil-A Peach Bowl, then they dropped the Peach entirely. I have never understood why those other top bowls retained their original name, albeit with a corporate names tagged onto them, whereas the Peach Bowl sold out completely, and is now known only as the Chic-Fil-A Bowl. A total lack of class.

    If the media would stop going along with the corporate sell-outs and continue to just use the original names, would be a big plus.

  15. Deb says: Jan 7, 2014 10:22 PM

    @longtallsam …

    Thank you! Didn’t know that was the Peach Bowl, but agree with you completely! They can parachute in all the cows they want wearing “Eat more chikin” signs, but they should keep the Peach Bowl name :)

  16. pauldeesghost says: Jan 7, 2014 10:52 PM

    Best solution is eight teams.

    The winners of the five power conferences, then a selection committee decides on whether any teams outside the big five should be included. If there are spots left over, they go to non-conference champs in the big five. Only two teams per conference.

    The eight teams are seeded and play in the rose, orange sugar & fiesta on Jan 1. The semis are a week later and the true national championship game is on the 15th. DONE!

  17. oldschool48 says: Jan 7, 2014 11:24 PM

    Since goal is to get the best teams in playoff, those advocating 5 or 6 conference champs automatically being in an 8 team playoff should note that many conference champs in past BCS bowl games have not been ranked in top 10. Also, might take away some incentive for playing tough OOC games…just win your conference. See BCS website for past match ups.

  18. musketmaniac says: Jan 7, 2014 11:59 PM

    Oklahoma’s win shouldn’t be forgotten. if bama wins it next year they could have pointed to `what if the play-off were ` thanks sooners

  19. pauldeesghost says: Jan 8, 2014 12:06 AM

    I see what you’re saying oldschool but that’s the point, a team HAS to win its conference in this 8-team model. It puts extra pressure on those end-of-season conference championship games because so much is riding on them. As for incentive against tough OOC games, take a look at SEC schedules and those of most other teams. There’s the occaisional cross-country neutral site season opener, but mostly it’s FCS opponents & lower tier FBS teams in the OOC schedule.

    Taking the 2013 finish as an example, I would have had:
    Mich St–B10

    For the other three I would have looked at the teams outside the power conferences and chosen just Central Florida. The other two at large spots I’d have given to Alabama and Ohio St.

    I would have seeded them this way:

    Rose–Stanford vs Mich St.
    Orange–FSU vs Cent. Fl
    Sugar–Auburn vs OSU
    Fiesta–Alabama vs Baylor

    All great matchups, (you can see I probably have too much time on my hands!)

  20. drs76109 says: Jan 8, 2014 1:43 AM

    Hey, if Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell have their way, every team’ll be playoff eligible just like they want in the NFL.

  21. oldschool48 says: Jan 8, 2014 8:12 AM

    Agree, Paul, that this would have worked well this year but still not convinced conference champs should be in automatically. Path of least resistance is to win conference and make sure of no non-conference losses that would lower rankings. To me, the Committee’s goal would be to select ALL the most deserving teams, not just the 2 or 3 leftovers. Again, BCS website shows many past conference champs not ranked in top 10. Conferences do experience down cycles.

  22. atlwmn says: Jan 8, 2014 1:06 PM


    The Chick-fil-A Bowl used to be the Peach Bowl. God forbid they keep the tradition instead of inserting their corporate brand into it. Ugh.

  23. pastabelly says: Jan 8, 2014 1:55 PM

    It is not important where these games are played. It’s all about tv money.

    Eight makes sense and SEC, PAC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12 should get automatic bids and three other schools would get at large bids. Maybe one could be reserved for a smaller conference school based on RPI and the other two would come from the big five conferences (limit two one extra per conference). Hold the first round of the tournament the week before Christmas, the semifinal on New Year’s Day, and Championship the Monday night after that.

  24. rje49 says: Jan 8, 2014 4:39 PM

    If they’re going to have a playoff, why don’t they start it earlier? Right now, these teams don’t play for 5 or 6 weeks before a bowl game. I mean, if this playoff does expand to 8 or 16 teams, does that mean it will last until Feb?

  25. manik56 says: Jan 8, 2014 9:54 PM

    I know I will watch anyway, but I prefer pre Bowl Coalition to all of this. I just want the Rose Bowl. Nothing more and nothing less.

  26. vie05ua says: Jan 9, 2014 10:24 AM

    @midtec2005 – one comment about the selection committee you made kinda irked me a bit. Mostly SEC representation? Jeff Long and Archie Manning? MAYBE Steve Wieberg who graduated decades prior to Mizzou joining the SEC? Jeff Long has deeper ties with the ACC than with the SEC. I actually consider him a fairly good selection.

    So, care to restate your opinion of the selection committee having extreme SEC bias?

    Jeff Long: Arkansas Athletic Director (previously Pittsburg, Eastern Kentucky)
    Barry Alvarez: Nebraska Grad, Wisconsin former coach, current AD
    Lt. Gen. Michael Gould: Air Force and former Falcons
    Pat Haden: AD USC, color commentator Notre Dame
    Tom Jernstedt: Oregon athlete, men’s basketball selection committee
    Oliver Luck: AD West Virginia
    Archie Manning: Ole Miss QB, father of Peyton and Eli (TN and Ole Miss)
    Tom Osborne: Nebraska AD (former)
    Dan Radakovich: Clemson AD, previously GA Tech
    Condi Rice: former Sec. of State. Grad of U. of Denver and Notre Dame, prof. of poli-sci at Stanford
    Mike Tranghese: Former Big East commissioner
    Steve Wieberg: Pre-SEC Mizzou grad and basketball writer
    Tyrone Willingham: former coach at- Stanford, Notre Dame, U. of Washington. Michigan St grad

  27. jjsooner says: Jan 9, 2014 10:47 AM

    Its going to be an interesting season to come , no doubt. Hopefully they’ll get it right or viewers will bail by the truck load. I’m glad to see the Cotton Bowl back in the mix. The chicken bowl? Not so much.
    So will Notre Dame actually have to earn something? If NBC has their way…..nope. I’ve become anti-Notre Dame since they decided to work a deal on their own with NBC and have always felt “too good” to join a good conference. Hope they lose every game they play.

    Thank you Jesus for ESPN’s man crush Manziel is going to go the eff away. He can be an arrogant ass all the way up to the moment where a real NFL player will crush him on to IR.

  28. vie05ua says: Jan 9, 2014 10:58 AM

    Agree jjsooner.

    Tired of Manziel, and, while he’s an idiot for declaring early this year due to the flood of QBs hitting the draft, he stays in the NCAA any longer his stock will drop even farther.

    Bad year for QBs to declare early, good year for running backs.

  29. ncaa2014playoff says: Feb 9, 2014 4:03 AM

    According to the Last Minus the regular season under the BCS was the most meaningful in all of sports. Hyperbole but the regular season is only important because there is a Conference Championship at stake and Bowl Invitations at stake.
    Now the CFP is coopting even more of the traditional Bowl Games, that is bad.
    The Rose Bowl, yes the original one on New Years, should not have been taken away from the PAC-12 versus Big Ten. Likewise the Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl should all be Conference competition. The Playoff can go another way and not ruin the Tradition of the Bowl Games. See the Perfect Playoff Plan 16 at

  30. ncaa2014playoff says: Feb 16, 2014 4:29 PM

    It was from a 63 team Championship Conference Group. It included 10 teams in the running.
    SEC Division Champions Auburn & Missouri
    ACC Division Champions Florida State & Duke
    B1G Division Champions Michigan State & Ohio State
    PAC-12 Division Champions Stanford & Arizona State
    Baylor ( a special case with a special end)
    Notre Dame is on the list but didn’t qualify at 8-4 (Unlike 8-4 UConn in the 2011 BCS Fiesta Bowl.)
    So we actually had an 8 team Playoff after eliminating Baylor & Notre Dame.
    But it ended before the Championship Game… not the BCS Championship Game but the next week when Florida State should have played Michigan State for the Undisputed National Championship at a location never chosen.
    Now for the special case, Baylor. Although they play in the only fairly built conference (the 10 team Big Twelve with no unfair artificial Divisons) they lost to UCF from a defrocked American Athletic Conference so who wants Baylor anymore.
    What a chance to show how utterly incompetent the BCS was, but alas the Presidents of Florida State and Michigan State are on the BCS payola train and didn’t schedule a privately arranged game that on the fly could have gotten $100 million from TV and $100 million for tickets at one of many Stadiums with 100,000 or more seats. How about warm weather Texas’ Memorial Stadium or Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium for a mid January game?
    Anyway no one would claim at #5 they didn’t belong, not even UCF, they know better and especially not Alabama after losing to OU.
    So lets fix 2014-2015 with a Perfect Playoff Plan 16, it could be arranged in 30 days and bring in $1 Billion more that the current CFP projections.

  31. mcostas123 says: Nov 29, 2014 10:41 PM

    The single best way to do this is to dissolve all conferences, set up a 32 team division 1, the top 16 playoff for the title, the bottom sixteen playoff to not be the worst, bottom 4 teams drop down to division 2 and the top 4 teams in division 2 come up the next year, gerry very similar to how the premiership is run. Stack up as many divisions as you can.

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