Talk to me about playoffs.
From tWWL, the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee formally approved a plan today that will establish a four team playoff at the end of the college football season.
The four teams will be chosen by a selection committee, the semifinals will be held at current bowl sites and the national championship game will be awarded to the highest bidder.
The 11 conference commissioners watched on Tuesday afternoon as Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick presented their proposal to a board of 12 university presidents at the Dupont Circle Hotel. In less than three hours, the group agreed upon a postseason that college football fans have been clamoring for years.
The plan will rotate the semifinals among 6 bowl games that will be played on New Year's Day or New Year's Eve, and the two winners will meet for the championship on the first Monday in January that is at least 6 days after the semis. The winner will be considered the BCS Champion (note that this is still not an NCAA Championship).
The current plan is scheduled to run through 2025.
If you thought Selection Sunday for the NCAA Basketball Tournament was intense, get ready for this one...
The presidents also announced the creation of a selection committee that will rank the teams to play in the playoff, "giving all the teams an equal opportunity to participate." The committee will consider win-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head results and whether a team is a conference champion.
This will be the most interesting part of the equation to me, and goes right back to the excellent post by our friend alpha1906 earlier this week, and especially to Achilles' revealing analysis of how current scheduling practices harm the Pac-12 and favor the SEC, among others.
Under ideal circumstances, a field of 4 should include at least 2 or 3 of the teams who most deserve a a shot at the title. But idealism is something of a pipe dream when it comes to college football. I thought the wrangling and politicking and regional biases involved in the college rankings were shameful in the past. But that is about to get turned up to 11 given the prestige and honor (right, it's the MONEY$$$) that will come with making college football's Final Four. Given the East Coast media bias and the unbalanced power wielded by the SEC, Texas, and Notre Dame, the Pac-12 will need to be hypervigilant that it doesn't get short changed when the FF are selected. Larry Scott better get his game face on.
Usually, there is some approximation of consensus on the two teams by the end of the season. But not always. Just consider the end of last season. Oklahoma State was denied a shot at the BCS Championship game by the tiniest margin, getting nosed at the wire by a nonconference-champ-but-gratuitous-second-place-SEC-team Alabama. While the new system would have included OSU, the controversy simply trickles down to the number four spot now. And speaking of last season, in the week 15 AP poll, the #4 team was Stanford, followed at 5 and 6 by *$c and Oregon. Check out the Pac-12 getting squeezed out already.
Still, for decades we have seen a series of games played at the end of the college football season and then a series of arguments about the supposed number one team in the land. When there were only a collection of bowl games with conference tie-ins, the subsequent arguments often failed to settle on a true national champion. Then the BCS came along, and we ended the season with a collection of bowl games without conference tie-ins, and the subsequent arguments still often failed to settle on a true national champion. The new four team playoff format will take some steps toward answering some of those questions.
But that number 5 team may have something to say.