BCS vs. Playoff?
When you take a look at the NCAA division one college sports across the country you notice they all have a similarity. Sports such as basketball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer, field hockey, ice hockey, boxing, and even swimming all obtain this similarity. That would be that no matter how long the regular season is or how each sport is played their playoff format is the same. Now not all the playoffs are exactly the same nor does the same amount of teams make the playoffs for each sport, but the champion will all be crowned in the same way. The playoffs are started off with each team gets seated from best to worst. Some sports put the teams into brackets; this is usually common in the larger tournaments such as basketball and baseball. The best team gets matched up versus the worst team in the tournament and the remaining teams are matched up accordingly based on the teams left. Then from there it is single elimination where the winner moves on and the losers’ season is over. This continues until there are only two teams left that will compete in the championship. Winner of this game is crowned national champion of their respected sport as they were the last team remaining in their playoff. All these sports never have any controvery about how their postseason is run. Now you may have noticed that I left one major sport out of this group. It was no mistake because football is not run this way, thus the major controversy of the college football postseason.
The word playoff does not exist in division one NCAA college football. They run what is called the BCS system. BCS stands for bowl championship series where the best teams in college football are ranked from best to worst based on computer systems calculations of many combinations such as national ranking, strength of schedule, and quality wins. It ranks the top 20 teams in college football so the best of the best can be separated from the rest and the common fan can see who is in contention for the BCS. Now the top ten teams make the BCS but it is not always the top ten teams in the BCS. Some conferences have automatic bids into the BCS meaning the champion of this conference will make the BCS now matter what their BCS ranking is. The only catch is you have to have more wins than loses to be in the BCS. The conferences that have these automatic bids are: ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 10, and the SEC. That alone is six out of the ten team’s right there. That only leaves four at large bids for teams that did not win their conferences. Now don’t forget there are mid major conferences that don’t get automatic bids that still can make the BCS, but it is very hard for that to happen. Out of these ten teams that get selected to the BCS by the committee they compete in one of five games. Of those five games, four of them are bowl games such as: the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, the Orange Bowl in Miami, the Rose Bowl in Las Angeles, and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The top two teams in the nation compete in what is called the BCS National Championship. It is played in one of the four cities mentioned above (it alternates every four years between each host). Now the winners of those BCS bowl games don’t get anything special or move on to another round of games to be played. They just get that win and crowned champion of that specific bowl. The winner of the National Championship is crowned the champ for the football season. That’s it, just win one game and you’re the champion. No playoff or nothing, just on postseason game. Now to me that doesn’t make much sense.
Since only ten teams make the BCS, the rest of the college football teams that advance into the postseason compete in bowl games. Now their importance is not as significant as the BCS, but pride for their respected school is always at battle here. There are currently 34 bowl games that are not included in the BCS, but this could always increase in the future because the committee is always in favor of increasing the amount of teams that advance to the postseason. To qualify for a bowl game you only have to win six games. Once you win six games in your regular season you are eligible for the postseason. Now more teams qualify for the bowl games than the sixty eight teams are best. So the best teams are picked based on matchups, locations, and which respected conference the team resides in. You cannot play a team you played in the regular season in a bowl game and you cannot play a team within your conference in a bowl game. Bowl games are just like the BCS in the way that there is not another round after you win that, your season ends on that win. You are playing to be crowned the champion of a specific bowl game, rather than for the right to the National Champion. It has been like this in college football since the 1800’s and since 1960 when the BCS was added. Their seems to be no signs of change anytime soon, but the arguments are at a true peak and maybe in the future this system of postseason will be abolished and a playoff will actually exist in the world of college football. I think that everyone realizes that college football is rich in tradition and everyone respects that. However, this is modern America where most people want it their way and want things to change in what they believe is right. If you ask around most people will agree that a playoff is more than necessary for college football
Why would a change to a playoff make sense? I know it would make it similar to every other college sport postseason that are run successfully. Other than that what are the advantages to making this drastic change? Well not only would the playoff be good for the fans it would be good for the teams as well. Instead of one game to win for basically pride, teams would be competing at the chance to be a National Champion. Due to this the competitiveness in these games increase because the players will actually see there is something worth playing and winning for. Currently the playoffs and the Bowl games are played almost a month after the regular season is over. Now that is about four weeks of extra practice for these teams to play one meaningless game. If a playoff were added to college football you could start the tournament the following week preceding the end of the season and get right to business. So once teams lose they are done and they don’t have to waste a month of practice for nothing. Though the playoff will create more games for the players and some people think it will be too much for their young bodies to handle, but if you think about it they will be playing these games over the weeks where they would be practicing so the amount of time actually playing football will be the same. Instead there will be a game at the end of those weeks, and fewer teams will be competing this late in the year. In fact the champion will be crowned around the same time it is now so the amount of work on the kids will not be too much. Players today are nothing what they were like backing in the 1800’s and even the 1960’s for that matter. Due to technology and the modern day weight room’s athletes have been able to become bigger, stronger, and faster than ever before. They love to compete and will do whatever it takes to win, players never want the season to end, the competiveness runs throughout their blood and is left on the field of game day.
When deciding on whether or not the playoff should be added to college football, you can use other college sports as a reference to compare with. Take college basketball for instance, some would say that the NCAA March Madness is the most successful and entertaining playoff in all of sports (including professional sports). The reason it is so exciting is because every team in the tournament has an equal chance to win the championship. No matter where you start in the tournament the champion has to win six games in a row to win the big dance. As well as this, there are so many upsets in the March Madness. An upset is when the team that was not expected to win or supposed to win actually beats the team that is far superior to them. Teams of lower ranks that make big runs in the tournament are called Cinderella teams. Everyone roots for the Cinderella teams and when their playing everyone is watching them. A good example of a Cinderella team is the 1985 Villanova Wildcats. In 1985 the Villanova Wildcats were an eight seed in the March Madness tournament out of a possible sixteen. So this team was average at best and no one expected to do anything, win one game at most. They won their first game 51-49 over the nine seed Dayton. A two point victory over a team very similar to their abilities. Nothing to get excited about and in the second round game they had to play the number one seed Michigan Wolverines. Michigan was heavily favored to beat Villanova and some would say they were favored to win the entire tournament. Villanova shocked the world when they beat Michigan 59-55 and advanced to the sweet sixteen. Their next game was no easy task as Villanova played the five seed Maryland Terrapins. Villanova came out on top with another close victory of 46-43. Then in the regional finals Villanova was set to face the very talented two seed, the North Carolina Tar Heels. Villanova shocked the world with a stunning performance on their way to a 56-44 victory. Never in doubt this Cinderella story continued to ride their hot streak. By the final four everyone wanted Villanova to win the whole thing, but still not one actually thought it would happen. After beating another two seed in Memphis State 52-45 in the final four, Villanova was going to the finals. Waiting for them there was the number one team in the nation, a team nobody could beat, the Georgetown Hoyas. With Patrick Ewing leading the way for the Hoyas no one was giving Villanova a chance. It was time for this Cinderella team’s fairy tale to end. The championship was a brutal and physical game. A fight to the finish, basically a blood war out on the court. Then Georgetown made possibly the biggest mistake in the history of college basketball. Their starting point guard was looking for someone to pass to and and turned and literally passed it to a wide open Villanova player who took it for a layup and Villanova won the championship 66-64. It was the perfect fairy tale ending for the Cinderella story team of a lifetime. Possibly the most magical NCAA March Madness tournament ever, and college football would never know what it’s like to have this feeling. Without the playoff football will never expierence this type of magic that is still being talked about 25 years after the event happened. Nothing can compare to this.
Football can never have Cinderella’s such as Villanova because the playoff system doesn’t exist. The smaller and not as skilled schools never get the chance to compete for a championship because the rankings never think they’re as good as the powerhouses because they don’t play the competition the bigger schools play. An example of when the BCS was wrong was in 2007 when the heavily favored Oklahoma Sooners faced the Boise State Broncos in the Fiesta Bowl. Before the season started Oklahoma was ranked in the top five of the country and was a National Champion contender. They lost a couple games early due to injury, but finished the season real strong and won the Big 12 outright to earn the automatic bid into Fiesta Bowl. Now Boise State was not expected to compete for a National Championship at the beginning of the season but they pulled off an undefeated regular season and went 12-0. Many people thought this was due to an easy schedule and no real competition was ever played. Boise earned one of the four at large bids and was matched up with Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Almost everyone thought this was a mistake and that Boise State did not belong in the BCS. Boise State was out to prove everyone wrong and boy did they ever do that. Boise State got out to a fast start and was up 14-0 fast and before you knew it they were winning 21-10 at halftime. Boise State continued to roll after the break and scored another touchdown to be up 28-10. Oklahoma finally showed up and started to look like a team with something to prove. Maybe they took Boise State to light at first, but they’re not about to let this game slip away. Oklahoma scored two strait touchdowns and a field goal to tie the game up at 28-28 with one minute and 30 seconds left. Then Boise State did the unthinkable and threw an interception to Oklahoma which they returned for a touchdown, and now with basically one minute left in the game Boise State was winning 35-28. Everyone thought it was just Boise State crumbling like they were supposed to and Oklahoma was going to win. Then probably the best play in the history of college football happened. Boise State completed a 15 yard pass and looked like all was over, then all of a sudden the receiver laterals the ball to another Boise State player bolting down the sideline for a touchdown. The old hook and ladder play and just like that this game was going into overtime. Oklahoma scored a touchdown first in overtime and then Boise State matched that with one of their own, but instead of going for the tie Boise State goes for the win and the two point conversion. With more tricks up their sleeve Boise State successfully runs the Statue of Liberty play for the two points and wins the game 45-44. The best game ever played in the history of the BCS. Boise State shocked the world just as Villanova did 22 years before this. However, it was too bad that this team never had the chance to compete for a championship.
In the BCS teams do get to prove themselves and make a name for them, but they never get to compete for any type of championship. Sure they win the specific bowl game, but what does that matter. If you’re not from a BCS major conference and you don’t compete in a conference championship you’re never going to compete in the BCS National Championship game. In a tournament teams get to prove themselves time and time again and the potential two best teams won’t just always play each other in the title game. That’s another point to bring across right there. Who is to say that the two teams picked for the National Championship are in fact the two best teams? It is not for certain because it is just a bunch of sports writers with their own opinon and the computer system. Are we really going to leave the decision to decide who battles it out at the end for a national championship with a computer? The only thing they truly know about the teams is the numbers that were put into their program. They can’t actually watch the games or physically know how the teams play. They are solely based on numbers and who should mathematically play for the championship. Last time I checked this was not mathematics class, this was college football, I know the athletes are students first but this is taking that a little too extreme. These weaker and smaller teams will never be able to prove themselves until a playoff is added in to the college football postseason.
Aside from the weaker teams that are actually good, the smaller schools that are bad have zero percent chance to actually compete for a national championship. In basketball due to the fact the winner of each conference tournament championship goes to the tournament, no matter how bad your season is you still have the possibility to make the playoffs. In football if you lose one game you’re almost automatically eliminated from the National Champion contention, and if you lose more games then you win then your season is over. Though it is true that those teams do not deserve to make the postseason, but at least in basketball there is still the possibility of this actually happening. As stated early in football there is zero percent chance of any small school that is off an average or subpar record to compete for a national championship or yet alone even get invited to participate in a bowl game.
The major controversy of the college football season is the postseason or better known as the BCS. The format of just a one game postseason is absurd and not a true champion is crowned. Without a playoff with tournament style elimination no real team can truly call themselves the champion. Problems of you don’t know if the two best teams were picked, the smaller schools don’t get the chance to compete in the championship game, no Cinderella magic will ever occur, and over half of the teams don’t’ even have a chance to make the championship game before the season even starts. Now this doesn’t fair to me and something must be done. The playoff will resolve all of these conflicts and a fairer, exciting, and enjoyable college football postseason would be created. NCCA Davison one athletics all have a playoff to crown a champion, except for football. Let’s get football the join with the rest of the country and experience the magic that everyone is talking about.
BCS vs. Playoff?