Why A BCS Playoff Is Bad For College Football


At long last, the BCS will finally have a playoff in college football. And in the end it will be the death of the sport.

During meetings in south Florida this week, the FBS commissioners (along with officials from national football exception Notre Name) agreed to a proposal for a four-team playoff that would crown a true national champion. This is a sea change in college football, one that would presumably satisfy fans that were upset by an all-SEC championship game in 2012.

But what is the real goal of a playoff? Ending speculation over who is really the best team? Or is it merely another sign of our Upward Sports society, where everyone gets a trophy and nobody’s feelings get hurt?

The breaking point seems to be that Alabama got a rematch with fellow SEC West power LSU, and won the BCS title without having won their own conference. Teams like Oklahoma State were left out in the cold, and fans were left wondering what if.

One remaining question is what formula will be used to determine the final four teams in a playoff. Will a three-loss conference champion take a spot away from a one-loss, No. 2-ranked Tide in this scenario? And when deserving teams get shut out, will the hue and cry begin over expanding the playoff to eight teams? Sixteen?

As a lifelong fan of the sport, one of the most tantalizingly unsatisfying aspects of college football is the uncertainty; the things that are left to subjective judgement. Even in this age of instant replay and wire-suspended tracking cameras, a first down is still determined by where a referee decides to spot the ball.

And polls, despite computer formulas and analysis at the molecular level, are still a matter of opinion. Any poll that comes out before the season begins is not a reflection of the best team, but the best potential and opportunity.

This is part of what makes the sport great. The lack of definitive answers leaves room for fans to argue and bicker, to defend the indefensible, and to enjoy raising a trivial matter of sport to the level of holy sacrament.

As usual, money has changed all that. Teams left out of a bowl game or a playoff lose millions of dollars in endorsements and opportunities. Universities are no longer fighting for school pride, but for shoe contracts. The stakes are higher, and the demand for more room at the feeding trough has created something that everyone loves in principle, but (rest assured) many will loathe in practice.

So now you have your BCS playoff. Notre Dame and Boise State will win in the boardroom what they couldn’t on the field. And now we can focus on embedding a microchip inside a football to track the exact spot of the ball and determine the correct first down. And later on we can just run a computer simulation to determine winners and losers, so the profit margin can be even higher.

The fun of the sport will be lost forever, but hey; at least everyone will get paid.

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