The BCS ship is taking on water and conference commissioners are tossing cargo overboard. If they're not careful that may include what makes the college game so special.
The BCS cabal is throwing around seven "new" proposals that would alter college football's postseason with a final decision likely coming this summer prior to fall TV negotiations. Let me run down the options on the table for you.
The BCS system remains intact but there will no longer be Automatic Qualifiers or conference caps.
After they select the top two teams in the country to duke it out in the title game the rest of the bowls can select whoever they please. That means more selections like the Michigan-VT Sugar Bowl which was based solely on ticket and merchandise sales
Boise State might as well join the CFL. You can lump in any feel good story that doesn't have a massive student body and wealthy alumni population into that equation. The best teams should play whether they're marketable or not.
A college football "Final Four" with all three games to be played in bowl locations.
Teams would only need to crack the top four to get a shot at the title game. This would also leave one major bowl game holding the bag each year. In a given year the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl could host semifinals, with the Orange Bowl holding the title game. Sorry Fiesta Bowl you get nothing
So the bowl games are crying poor after years of slumping attendance and TV numbers but expect fans to travel to not one but two bowl games in a short period? Even the nuts down in Tuscaloosa have a household budget and back-to-back trips to Glendale, AZ and Pasadena, CA aren't in the cards. This also eliminates teams desire to finish #1 in the regular season when #4 will get you into a neutral site semifinal either way.
A college football "Final Four" with three games at neutral sites.
They would have neutral sites bid on the games, putting more money in the schools' pockets as opposed to the bowl organizers.
I have the same issues with the third proposal as I do with second. Fans still have to show up for back-to-back games away from home and there isn't an incentive to being #1.
A college football Final Four in bowls with the title game awarded to the highest bidder.
Now we'd have two angry bowls every year with only two major bowl games hosting meaningful games.
No one wins here as far as I'm concerned. The same problems as #s 2,3 and 4. Also who wants another Super Bowl type game in Dallas, we all know Jerry Jones
would win that bidding war.
A college football "Final Four" except that the B1G Ten champ and the Pac-12 champ must play regardless of their ranking.
This could create three semifinals. If the Pac-12 champ was second and the B1G Ten champ was fifth they would play in the Rose Bowl. This would leave the BCS #1 to play the #4 and the #3 to play #6. They would then take the two "highest" ranked teams to play in the title game.
From the creators of the BCS we bring you the three sided coin flip! Facepalm
A college football Final Four played at campus sites. The higher ranked team would host the event with the winners playing in a national title game completely separate from the bowls.
This would cut the bowls out of big time college football. It would also incentivize teams to play for home field advantage through the entire regular season.
This isn't an awful idea. Last season it would have played out like this:
#4 Stanford @ #1 LSU - CBS live from Baton Rouge, LA
#3 Oklahoma State @ #2 Alabama - CBS live from Tuscaloosa, AL
I'm looking around...yeah I'd say everyone is satisfied
I have, however, saved the best for last in my opinion.
Play out the bowls and then pair the top two teams in a national title game.
You could create bowl match-ups between the top ten teams in the nation and after the dust settled the top two teams would square off in the title game.
Last season could have looked liked this in a perfect world:
#1 LSU vs. #10 Wisconsin - Sugar Bowl
#2 Alabama vs. #9 Kansas State - Orange Bowl
#3 Oklahoma State vs. #8 South Carolina - Fiesta Bowl
#5 Oregon vs. #6 Arkansas - Rose Bowl
#4 Stanford vs. #7 Boise State - Cotton Bowl
They could arrange the games so that the teams outside the top two would play with a shot at the title game on the line. The top two could have their bowls bookended, building drama of a possible opening. The other schools could play in prime time with their fan bases rooting for a trip to the national title game and the rest of the nation rooting for an upset in the first and final games that would open a slot in the big game.
I support this proposal for two reasons. The first is that college football's greatest resource is its unmatched regular season. On a weekly basis there are must watch games, as is reflected by TV ratings
, and that simply doesn't exist in other sports. The other reason is that the major bowls dip in attendance and TV ratings
is directly related to airing irrelevant games. In this scenario if Wisconsin were to upset LSU on Jan. 1st the following three games would take on massive importance. If LSU were to win, teams would still play all out and then turn their eyes to the final bowl game matching #2 Alabama against #9 Kansas State hoping for an upset.
Every game could be showcasing a title game contender and teams wouldn't dare laying down in the regular season for fear of losing control of their destiny.
It also would not force Alabama and LSU to have to play extra games against top ten competition. They already earned the top two spots during the regular season and in doing so they would be rewarded with a "win and you're in" situation.
I've always believed the purpose of a sport is to determine the best team, not the healthiest or hottest team at the end of the year. And a move towards a neutral site final four or a larger playoff system would only move college football closer to a professional system. Some may prefer such a system but I welcome them to view the results, which in most cases has rewarded the "hot" team over the "best" team.
MLB (1 out of 6)
Best Record - NYY/NYM 97 Wins
-- Champion - STL 83 Wins
Best Record - CLE 97 Wins
-- Champion - BOS 96 Wins
Best Record - LAA 100 Wins
-- Champion - PHI 92 Wins
Best Record - NYY 103 Wins
-- Champion - NYY 103 Wins
Best Record - PHI 97 Wins
-- Champion - SF 92 Wins
Best Record - PHI 102 Wins
-- Champion - STL 90 Wins
NFL (0 out of 6)
Best Record - SD 14-2
-- Champion - IND 12-4
Best Record - NE 16-0
-- Champion - NYG 10-6
Best Record - TEN 13-3
-- Champion - PIT 12-4
Best Record - IND 14-2
-- Champion - NO 13-3
Best Record - NE 14-2
-- Champion - GB 10-6
Best Record - GB 15-1
-- Champion - NYG 9-7
NBA (1 out of 6)
Best Record - DET 64-18
-- Champion - MIA 52-30
Best Record - DAL 67-15
-- Champion - SA 58-24
Best Record - BOS 66-16
-- Champion - BOS 66-16
Best Record - CLE 66-16
-- Champion - LAL 65-17
Best Record - CLE 61-21
-- Champion - LAL 57-25
Best Record - MIA 62-29
-- Champion - DAL 57-25
NHL (1 out of 6)
Best Record - DET 124 PTS
-- Champion - CAR 112 PTS
Best Record - BUF/DET 113 PTS
-- Champion - ANA 110 PT
Best Record - DET 115 PTS
-- Champion - DET 115 PTS
Best Record - SJ 117 PTS
-- Champion - PIT 99 PTS
Best Record - WAS 121 PTS
-- Champion - CHI 112 PTS
Best Record - VAN 117 PTS
-- Champion - BOS 103 PTS
3 out of 24!!
In that time period let's revisit the "deeply" flawed college football model.
A train wreck of a season. Three or four other teams deserved a shot at the Gators.
Another year a final four would have done some good with UGA, USC and Mizzou deserving of an opportunity.
They got it right here. Tebow played like a man possessed and they had a vicious defense.
Without a doubt the best team in the country no playoff needed.
Auburn was the best team with the best player. They even survived a title game scare playing their 'B' game.
This would have been a perfect year for the bowls and then the title game.
So in the last six season there have been three slam dunks (UF08, Alabama09, Auburn11) and three seasons that would have benefitted greatly from a seeded Final Four or a bowls and then title game set up. The current system is crowning the best team 50% of the time so let's not egg on the BCS overlords to throw the baby out with the bath water.
My main concern is that the professional model points out the need only to make it to the playoffs. Once you're in anything can happen. On the professional level teams understand this and form strategies that include sitting starters
and losing games intentionally to secure ideal playoff match-ups (especially in the NBA & NHL). As a result their regular seasons have diminshed value and watchability.
All of these things occur on the professional level without organizations being able to control their own schedules. With no value being added to finishing first, strength of schedule will be the first casualty at the collegiate level. Teams like LSU will swap Oregon for North Texas on their schedule faster than you can say irreparable damage.
I caution fans and conference commissioners to consider this before pulling the plug on the most interesting regular season in sports.