BCS Slippery Slope

The previous BCS system was flawed.

It was a system most of us were not willing to live with. A playoff system was necessary to bring absolute fairness to the world of College Football.

College Football fans across the country have gotten their wish. It was announced yesterday that, starting in 2014, a 4-team, seeded playoff system will be implemented pending approval of the university presidents who serve on the BCS committee. Like Kim Kardashian’s divorce to Kris Humphries, this is an inevitable conclusion to a controversy that could only be resolved with one solution.

What next though?

By finally giving in and moving to a playoff format, the NCAA has created a slippery slope that will get steeper and steeper as the years go on.

The critics to the unfairness of the current BCS system have been silenced but for how long? As I’m sure people will realize, this newly proposed playoff system is far from perfect. With only 2 additional teams gaining the opportunity to play for a national championship, the controversy surrounding the top teams will not be eliminated.

The playoff format that is to be put in place in 2014 is supposed to bring “transparency” to the decision process. Something that is obviously missing with the BCS system. It appears that the 4 playoff teams will be chosen by a selection committee who intend to choose the best 4 teams, with a strong consideration given to conference champions.

At this point in time, it all sounds like sunshine and lollipops. However, it’s hard to believe that this supposed greater transparency will do away with a significant amount of controversy. Teams excluded from the playoffs will continue to feel jobbed, believing they deserved the chance to fight for a national championship.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in reference to the new playoff format that “it won’t satisfy everyone…until you have an 8-team or 16-team seeded playoff, there will be folks out there that aren’t completely satisfied.”

8 teams? 16 teams?

Thus begins, the irrelevancy of the regular season.

An increased playoff format has the potential to completely compromise the integrity of the regular season. An integrity that, for the better, has separated it from its brother NCAA cash cow, college basketball.

The BCS system may have been flawed but the system lent itself to generating an incredible amount of public interest. Unlike college basketball, the regular season means, or meant, so much more in college football. Interest equals ratings and the attention the college football regular season received was always immense.

Anything more than a 4-team postseason format could be detrimental to the unique dynamic of a college football regular season. The thing is, a 4-team system will satisfy the many, who have been clamouring to change the BCS system, for only so long. The eventual expansion of this proposed 4-team set-up to 8 or 16 teams is about as predictable as the sun setting in the west.

College football and basketball is big business. The business of college football will be affected very negatively if the NCAA decides to adopt a larger playoff format at some point in the future. Each week, the possibility of a Goliath being slayed by a David is magnified because of the fact that losing just 1 game in a season can abolish the hope of playing in the national championship game. That is not so much with the new system, especially so if college football continues to expand the number of playoff teams in the future. Division II Appalachian State defeating number 5 seed Michigan, so what? At least, with an expanded playoff system, so what.

Does college football want 2 or 3 weeks of its season be relevant or virtually every single week?

The die-hard fans will be there no matter what but it’s the casual fans that bring in the dough. Outside of March Madness, college football has a lot more casual fans than college basketball. The importance of every game in the regular season means that anyone can sit down on any given Saturday and perhaps watch a game with serious implications.

A March Madness style single-game elimination playoff undoubtedly takes away from the lure of college football’s week-to-week excitement to a certain extent. The more playoff teams, the less the excitement.

Moreover, the slippery slope BCS commissioners have put themselves on with this decision is not only bad for business but it also ignores the issue of player safety. NCAA players do not get paid and forcing players to play extra games before even reaching a level where they can be compensated fairly is borderline heartless.

Yes, a 4-team playoff system means extra games for only 2 teams but must I repeat myself again?

Where does the expansion of teams stop? 8? 16? 32? More teams and, obviously, more players, sooner or later, will be needlessly required to play additional games. Yeah, that has to be the ideal situation for player safety.

Potentially compromising the ability for these kids to either play professional football or simply live an active post-football life with unnecessary extra games is a scary thought. Career and life threatening injuries happen in football. Of course, a player can get hurt at anytime but why increase those odds with more games?

The Conference Commissioners decided on drastic change to the landscape of college football. The new 4-team playoff system resolves some of the issues plaguing the BCS but by no means does it solve everything.

This slope might soon get very slippery and if it does, the switch to a playoff system could hurt college football more than most could have ever anticipated.

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts.

Agree? Disagree? You can also E-mail Chris at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

About Chris Ross
Questions, comments, suggestions? Send yours to cross_can15@hotmail.com. Follow me on twitter @paintstheblack

11 Responses to BCS Slippery Slope

  1. hellahusker says:

    Great post! I agree the status quo is preferable to what they came up with. I differ from you in that I would like to see an 8 team playoff with each of the 6 conference champions getting an automatic berth with two “wildcard” teams.

    I think that would keep the regular season relevant while allowing a team (like Alabama last season) who is obviously deserving to get a crack at the title even though they didn’t win their conference.

  2. fschroll says:

    I don’t buy the argument that the regular season will be made irrelevant with a playoff system. The NFL has a longer regular season and more playoff games and their ratings certainly don’t take a hit for it. The bottom line is people just want more football- a playoff accomplishes this and it peaks viewer’s interest at the right time. September games against mid majors take a hit but the ratings and revenue generated from playoff games will easily atone for such games.

  3. rkmclaughlin says:

    NFL and college football aren’t comparable outside of both being football. NFL has 32 teams they have to narrow down into one champion, NCAA Div 1 has 120. While FCS, D2 and D3 all have a playoff, it doesn’t diminish from their regular season, which begs the question: why can’t FBS have one? Oh yeah, money. The main problem with a lot of die hard NCAA fans and workers, is that they lean too hard on their strengths, for example: yes, the beauty of college football is that “every week matters”, but you can’t say that when Alabama is playing North Texas, some games DON’T matter, and by Week 8, you know who has a chance and who doesn’t. If you’re #10 in the BCS rankings, or you have 1-2 losses and aren’t in a power conference, you aren’t going to be considered for the Natl. Championship. NCAA is fine at 4 for now, you have a stronger argument in a 3 vs 2 situation than you do as the #5 team complaining that you could have beat #4. It’s not as strong of an argument, no one is going to really bicker about who should be #4, if you have to argue about that, maybe your campaign wasn’t strong enough.

    The ideal scenario that will never happen just because there’s such a huge gap between the power conferences of the BCS and the normal conferences in D1, is a 16-team playoff with 11 conf champions and 5 at-large bids based on the BCS. Again, that’s “fair share” talk, and not “best TV” or “Best entertainment” talk. You need your big schools to succeed, and every once in a while have a smaller team sneak in and maybe win a game they shouldn’t. (Remember, everyone roots for Cinderella until they have to watch her again in Round 2).

    As stated, I think having the top 4 teams at the end of the season, as determined by the BCS rankings (make them transparent) is about as good as you’re going to get, maybe 8 teams. No selection committee, no gimmicks or games, just put the 4-8 teams in a playoff and let them go.

    Place each round in neutral sites based on the BCS Bowl games and other bowl games.

  4. At least they’re making progress, Chris. There’s long been momentum behind a playoff system so that’s obviously what we’re finally going to have.

    I agree with you, though. Whatever new playoff system they come up with needs to be handled with kid gloves.

    This will be something totally new to college football fans.

    Let’s say four teams are invited to participate in those final three games. When it’s all said and done, we will have three losers and ultimately one winner: the national champion.

    Do the losers of those three games consider still their season a success because they were plucked by the BCS in the Final Four, even though they’re runners-up?

  5. Cheval John says:

    I don’t know about the irrelevancy part.

    The playoff system works in college basketball, baseball and even in the FCS football, so why can’t it work in the FBS?

  6. Pingback: The Cockpunch: LeBob Finally Wins Edition – The Daily Dickpunch

  7. Pete Sloan says:

    I think you make a great point about lessening the importance of those big games, especially late in the season. Just think, a few years ago when Ohio State and Michigan entered their game No 1/2, and it was basically an elimination game for the national championship. It was great drama. In all likelihood, if that game were played again under this format, the loser would still stand a great chance of making the four-team field, unless non-conference champions were 100% eliminated. Expanding the playoff field does take a little edge off those “must-win” games.

  8. jaysjems1141 says:

    I enjoy your perspective from the regular season. Even though we had an odd ending last year as the national championship ended up being a rematch, for the most part, every game matters. Rivalries became more intense. It brings a certain level of interest to every single game unlike any other organized sports league. Why else is Appalachian State taking down Michigan one of the greatest upsets ever? Now, compare that to similar upsets that take place every year in college basketball… we’ll see where this stepping stone move takes us, but we just might be close to seeing a drastically different regular season…

    And great post! I love your quick and in-depth analysis after the report was released.

  9. Great analysis Chris. The BCS is just looking more and more likely to collapse, yet it’s still holding on. I think something huge needs to happen NOW to avoid that slippery slope.

  10. Flawed and still remains so , as it’s slanted to favor the major programs and conferences in particular . Never mind the that that the process is driven by money and not much else . The BCS or as I like to refer to it … the Bowl Crapshoot System !

  11. Interesting post. Let’s not forget all of this is about one thing: money. The presidents in charge finally realized that there’s a whole ton of money to be made by having a playoff like this. You’re right that it might be a slippery slope, but personally I don’t see that as a huge negative…I think the right number of teams would be 8. That way the controversy is still there, but you’re not excluding a potential national champion from the playoff. I mean, if a team misses the Big Dance in March, they (and the so-called experts) don’t gripe because they thought they could have won it all…I think the NCAA would be wise to get to that point with football. As it is now, the best teams from the power conferences will make it, and a team that runs the table against a weaker schedule won’t get a chance to prove itself. Flawed, if you ask me, but still better than it was before.

    Jason Sprenger (aka The Sports Ace)

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