College Football’s New 4-team Playoff System

The NCAA took a huge step this afternoon by approving a new 4-team college football playoff system, which will eventually replace parts of the current BCS model in 2014.

The Bowl Championship Series has been in place since 1998 and matches the No. 1 and No. 2 teams against each other in a postseason bowl game played during the second week of January. The BCS rankings are comprised of a coaches, media, and computer poll. Many fans have criticized the current model because it favors schools from the powerhouse conferences. A team’s strength of schedule certainly weighs heavily on how the rankings are determined and chances are if you’re a team from a non-power conference the only way you can punch a ticket to a major bowl game is by running the tables and going undefeated.

One loss virtually eliminates any team from the BCSdiscussion…

However under this new system a selection committee will choose the 4 “best” teams to compete against each other in a playoff series. The committee will consider several factors such as win-loss record, SOS, head-to-head results, and whether the team is a conference champion.

My initial reaction is that I think this is a good move for college football because it’s what the vast majority of fans wanted. This decision will no doubt bring in more viewers and revenue dollars for the NCAA and all schools involved. However, it’s not a complete model and I think this will be a topic of discussion for several years down the road. Will those schools from non-power conferences really see a difference from the current model? How many members will comprise this selection committee and how can we be certain they’ll remain unbiased in their decisions? After all only 4 teams can make the cut so there is great potential for conflicting interests. I truthfully think that those schools from the non-power conferences will continue to see the short end of the stick. I don’t see a situation where at least one school from the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, and ACC isn’t represented in this newly formed playoff system.

This model will help those one-loss (power conference) schools though. Take Oklahoma State for example, last season the Cowboys went undefeated for most of the season only to see their win streak snapped against a lowly 5-4 Iowa State squad. Oklahoma State won its last game of the season to punch a ticket to the Fiesta Bowl but their loss to ISU knocked them from the championship discussion. Oklahoma State and Alabama both had one loss heading into the postseason however the Cowboys were penalized for the fact that were downed a week after Alabama’s loss to LSU. Shouldn’t these two schools have an equal shot at playing for the national championship?

We certainly don’t have all the details of the playoff system available to us yet but I just don’t see how those smaller schools can benefit in this new model. This will undoubtedly create a lot of excitement within the college football landscape but I am eager to learn more details.

Stay tuned…


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