Well I hate to say I told you so but…
Here’s what would have happened if my system had been implemented this year:
#19 Virginia Tech (ACC champs) would travel to play at #1 Oklahoma (Big XII champs)
#12 Cincinnati (Big East champs) would travel to play at #2 Florida (SEC champs)
#8 Penn State (Big Ten champs) would travel to play at #3 Texas (top at-large team)
#6 Utah (non-BCS champs in top-8) would travel to play at #5 USC (Pac-10 champs)
These four games would be played this coming weekend to determine the four teams who would advance to the semifinals, to be played at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. The four losers would advance to play in the Fiesta Bowl and Orange Bowl. Click here for details of my plan, which I unveiled before the season started, when I warned that the current system would yet again fail to fairly settle things on the field.
My proposal would have solved all of this year’s BCS mess by giving every team with a legitimate claim for a shot at the national title to get just that-a shot at the title. Now, my system doesn’t pick the best 8 teams necessarily, and that’s for a reason. The point is to put together the conference champions plus give a shot to a team like Utah from a non-BCS conference that runs the table or a team like Texas that somehow got left out of a conference title game.
You may be asking, well how is it fair that teams like #4 Alabama (1 loss, tough conference), #7 Texas Tech (1 loss, tough conference), and #9 Boise State (undefeated) get left out while teams like #12 Cincinnati (2 losses, easy conference) and #19 Virginia Tech (4 losses) get in? The answer is that Alabama, while certainly a top-8 team, doesn’t have an honest claim to the national title, because they lost their conference championship game in the postseason. Texas Tech got blown out by 40. You can’t make a claim on the national title after getting blown out that bad, no matter who you were playing, and their ranking reflects that. You also can’t make a claim to play for the title if you don’t finish in the top 8, even if you are undefeated, like Boise State. As for Cincinnati and Virginia Tech getting in, well, they did earn their way in by winning their respective conferences. And there’s a reason these two teams have to travel to play the top 2 teams on the road during the play-in weekend. The idea is that the lower ranked teams who have losses will get weeded out in the play-in games when they have to play the top teams on the road, perhaps in unfamiliar time zones and climates.
The bottom line is there were five teams this year when the smoke cleared who had a legitimate claim to play for the national title: Oklahoma, Florida, USC, Penn State (all 1-loss conference champs), and Texas (who got snubbed from their own conference title game). My system would have allowed all five of these teams their chance to settle things on the field. Sure, the other 2 conference champs and BCS-buster Utah all get their chance too, but presumably after the play-in games (listed above) these teams will be weeded out. Imagine this: if the home teams all won, which they would be heavily favored to do, we would see USC face Oklahoma in one semifinal and Texas face Florida in the other semifinal. If these matchups don’t have you drooling, you aren’t a real fan.
One final note: Many critics have said that a playoff would ruin the regular season of college football by devaluing games. I am assuming that these critics are implying that teams and fans would not worry about winning regular season games if they knew their team could still make the playoffs. Well let’s take a look at this season and see if that might have been the case. If Oklahoma, USC, Texas, Utah, Penn State, Cincinnati, or Virginia Tech had lost just one of the conference games they won, they would not have qualified for the playoffs. If Texas, Oklahoma, or Utah had lost a non-conference game, they would have likewise been eliminated. USC, Penn State, Cincinnati, and Virginia Tech could have lost a non-conference game and still gotten in, but how many non-conference games are competitive anyway? Florida is the one team that could have lost an additional conference game or a non-conference game and still made the playoffs, but they would have lost their home-field advantage and high seed in the process.
In summary, the only games that would lose significance would be a handful of nonconference games and maybe one conference game for Flordia. Most of these nonconference games are not competitive anyway, and even for the ones that are, there is still seeding and home-field advantage on the line, not to mention the one thing that really makes college football unique: school pride. For example, Florida would have known going into their game against Florida State that they could lose that game and still get into they playoffs if they beat Alabama the following week and qualified as SEC champs. Forget for a moment that Florida would lose home-field advantage and a high seed in the playoffs by losing. Can you imagine any Florida player or fan wanting to beat their bitter rivals any less, or the game itself carrying any less significance just because Florida didn’t need the win to qualify for the playoffs? I can’t.
Then again I can’t imagine why my proposal wouldn’t be a good thing for college football.