It is almost unimaginable that something so bad could last so long. I am talking about the BCS system that the NCAA used to determine its Division I football champion. It was 16 years ago that the system was put into play. It proved to be more difficult to get rid of than an obnoxious cousin!
This season it has been replaced by a committee picking four teams for a playoff. Now that’s a messy diaper!
This new College Football Playoff will be determined by a 13-person committee, shepherded by a Kansan, Prairie Village’s Bill Hancock, who was also executive director of the BCS system. Is this an improvement? Only as much as going from a man being without any legs improving to one-legged might be. It’s still not what would be best.
This is to be a “common sense” way of selecting the teams. No computers, no RPI, no polls. Just 13 human beings coming to agreement on what four teams should compete for a national championship. Trouble is, it is a flawed premise. I like the idea of assembling a bunch of football “experts”-though some question Condaleeza Rice as a football expert-to make these choices. The flaw comes about when you limit it to four teams. That’s not a good fix.
The flaw is basic math. Four is not enough. In college football, there are five so-called “power conferences”. That means that some “power conference” champion is going to be left out of the mix each year. It also almost guarantees that teams from lesser conferences and independents- with the exception of media darling Notre Dame-will be left out.
The silliness of elevating the Southeastern Conference so much above all others illustrates my point. According to the pollsters we should forget the playoff committee and just have an SEC playoff and make that our national champion! Forget Ohio State, TCU, Nebraska, Marshall, Baylor, Colorado State and Duke. They just don’t have that southern “pedigree”!
Many conferences, ESPECIALLY THE SEC, play unbalanced schedules, not meeting all teams from their own conference. Mississippi State’s coach, Dan Mullen, a former assistant coach at Florida said in a recent interview, “When I was at Florida for four years, we never played a game at Mississippi State”. That is common in the SEC. How in the world do you determine quality when you don’t have direct competition?
The solution? I thought you’d never ask. No less than an 8-team playoff with automatic bids for the five “power conference” champions. League championships should mean something! That leaves three at-large slots for deserving teams. One of those three slots should be reserved for those independents and conference champions from the so-called “lesser conferences”. Why? Because they deserve a shot. Does anybody remember Boise State?
Take a page from the NCAA basketball championships. Put some of these non-power conference teams in the playoff. At least one every year. Just think, where would the basketball world be if we had never let Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament? Ditto for Wichita State, Butler, VCU and many others.
Wouldn’t it be fun to see how an undefeated Marshall might do this year if only they were given the chance?
After all, isn’t fun what this is all supposed to be about for we fans? Fun. What would be wrong with a little fun at the end of the football season?
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned.