The last BCS Championship Game was played Monday and it ended with a bang, a thrilling 34-31 victory by the undefeated Florida State Seminoles over the Auburn Tigers. In its 16 years, most hated the BCS because it wasn’t a playoff, even though these same haters were waxing poetic and hiding behind the new term, “for the most part, they got it right.”
Like any breakup, it’s easy to forget the bad and remember the good. It’s easy to forget Nebraska getting selected for the title game after being thrashed by Colorado in its regular season finale. It’s easy to forget the USC-Oklahoma-Auburn which team doesn’t make it scenario, too. Be that as it may, the BCS was an improvement over the old bowl system, even though January 1 lost much of its luster in the process. Still, sometimes you have to give to get.
Many of the BCS Championship Games had the high drama that everybody hopes for in a title tilt. Last night’s game was a great ending, perhaps the second best of the BCS era, behind USC-Texas in 2006 (2005 season). Next year, the College Football Playoff arrives, a four team event that will use two bowl games as semifinals and then have a championship game at a site that will be awarded to the highest bidder. They already do this in Canada. Up north, the semifinal games are called the Uteck Bowl and the Mitchell Bowl, with the two winners playing for the Vanier Cup the next week. Let’s hope that the leaders of college football come up with a nifty name, or cup for the CFP title game.
The four team playoff is going to be popular with everybody that has a connection to college football. The fans will love it, the coaches will love it, as will the bookies and the gamblers. TV will love it, because unlike any other country, no country adores playoffs more than the United States of America. And, our playoffs are tournament style, and we love tournaments. That’s why the NFL will eventually expand its playoffs because that’s what the USA loves.
The CFP will soar so much, that they will expand it. They can say they won’t; say that the tournament will take time away from the classroom and all the other good stuff. But, we’re dumb but not stupid. We know it’s about money, but we want an 8, 10, or 12 team playoff. The elimination thing is a thing we like, so bring it on.
The 10 or 12 team format is the best choice. My preference would be 12 with the top four teams receiving byes in the Opening Round. As we know—because we love tournaments—the opening round pits 5 against 12; 6 versus 11; 7 and 10 and the classic 8-9 game that college basketball fans salivate over. And, with a 12 team format, you are rewarding the best teams but not subjecting them to that classic first round upset. No Hampton beating Iowa State in college football.
Before they expand, they have to clean up college football into two Division I associations. The FCS would be gone, replaced by the CFA and NCAA. The CFA would consist of the five power conferences, currently the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and Notre Dame, which technically is associated with the ACC. The NCAA would consist of the other five conferences, currently the The American, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mid American and Mountain West, Army AND all current FCS schools. FCS football served its purpose, but with so many schools moving up, let’s just abolish it for good. That way, North Dakota State’s win over Kansas State would be fine, as it would Towson’s over Connecticut.
Remember, just because there are two associations, it’s all Division I football. Under the new system, the highest ranked NCAA school gets invited to the CFP. In fairness, they should get two of the 12 spots, but for now, they get one. The CFP and the merger of FCS and FBS actually helps the bowl games. With only 12 out of about 250 schools making the CFP, that leaves plenty of teams remaining for bowl games and hopefully the elimination of 6-6 teams from bowl consideration. Under the new system, Army could play Youngstown State in a bowl game, or either team could play Iowa. The Capital One Bowl could be Ohio State/South Carolina or it could be Ohio State/Boise State depending how the season plays out.
The CFP will be the main attraction with its modest four team scenario. Last night’s BCS title game drew a 15.7 overnight rating, and a real tournament championship game might get a 25. Only the Super Bowl and Academy Awards draw higher. The more it expands, the more popular it will be. The NCAA basketball tournament used to consist of 16, then 32, 40, 48, 52, 64, 65, and now 68 teams, with some clamoring for more.
Four teams is a good start. Consolidating into a two association Division I system(technically there are three now) is the nxst step and expansion is the third step. Football is king in the country. Americans devour the NFL, they like college football and they like the NFL Draft so much that it has become a three day event.
In the end, the BCS was good for college football. It changed the way presidents, commissioners and athletic directors thought. There was a time where the powers said that there would never be any changes to the old bowl system, but there was, once, now twice.
And, the third time will be the charm.