From Annual BCS Controversy to a (Hopefully) Fair College Football Playoff System

Where does the BCS go from here? A Semi Final format is clearly on the way, but the format is still up in the air. The power struggles between bowl games and conferences is going to determine where this thing goes, but the most important thing is that by 2014, we’ll no longer have the current system in which the national champions are decided.

The whole LSU – Alabama situation was the final straw. You know, the one that will probably break the BCS system. Have two teams from the same conference play each other twice in the same year may be great for SEC fans, especially SEC West fans, but the rest of the country, who also deserve a say in the matter, didn’t like it. Oklahoma State deserved a shot against Les Miles and his Tigers.

So it looks like there’s no turning back for the BCS and College Football. The popular route? A four team playoff – Two one game Semi Finals and one final. But how, where? Well, these seem to be the options in general, possibly kicking in after the next two seasons.

Why not play here?

Option 1 – Keep things as they are with small tweaks to the BCS system. Unpopular, probably won’t happen. What Tweaks? No more AQ conferences except for contracts negotiated between bowls and conferences. Meanwhile, eliminating the limit on number of conferences that can play in BCS bowls while playing more bowl games closer to New Year’s day.

Option 2 – The Plus One the guys in charge were so happy about, but it’s unlikely they’ll revert to now. What does it mean? Simple. Only after all the bowl games are played, the #1 and #2 teams in the nation after the final polls, who already played in the Bowls, play for the national title. In that case, assuming LSU – Alabama was a bowl game, we’d have a ‘Bama – Cowboys national final.

Option 3 –  The four team Semi Final. According to all signs and sources, this is the format that will be chosen. Many want an 8 team playoff, but four teams is also a good start. Anything, in my opinion, resembling a playoff, is better than the real system. And here come the power struggles. The four team playoff has three options.

All Neutral – All three games, both the Semi Finals and the National Final will be played on Neutral sites. Even if it’s hosted in one of the Bowl stadiums, it won’t be considered a bowl game. Here comes the Big Ten factor. The conference hasn’t enjoyed much success under the BCS format, especially not in recent years.

Playing the big games on the road seems to a contributing factor. Losing to USC in the Rose Bowl or LSU in the national Championship game in New Orleans. The Big Ten will definitely push, assuming that this is the chosen formula, for more big games, Bowl, Semi or Final, to be played in the Midwest.

Bowl Solution – All three games will be part of the BCS bowl system. Rotation and all.

Bowl Semis, Neutral Final – Two Semi Finals as part of the bowl system while the final will be in a venue selected through a bidding process.

Home Advantage Formula – This one I love, because it actually makes this feel like a playoff and rewards teams for what they did in the regular season, although as always, the rankings are poll based. The Semi Finals will be hosted on campus sites, for example, #4 Oregon playing in Tuscaloosa against #1 Alabama in one Semi Final, while #2 LSU host #3 Oklahoma State for the second final. Personally, I love it. The final will be neutral by the way. Back to the campus thing? It seems the idea is dead. Why? Because bowls have powers, and people think about making money.

One of the reasons this doesn’t happen because some of sites of the powerhouses of College Football aren’t bug cities that can host a huge invasion of visiting fans, media and all sorts coming in to make money off of the games. Lincoln, Nebraska. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sounds like a great place to have a big game. But the big shots are saying ‘logistical problems’ will prevent that from happening. As always, it’s about money.

A final option, yet not too popular, exists. The ‘Plus Four’, or ‘Four Teams Plus.’ How does it work? The four highest ranked teams meet in two games except for the Big Ten and Pac-12 champions, who will always be playing in the Rose Bowl. If the Big Ten and/or Pac-12 Champions are among the four teams, that game will be played in the Rose Bowl, while two other teams fill their places in the other Bowl Games against the other two teams. After the three games are played, the two highest ranked teams play for the final.

Confused? It’s not that complicated, but it’s more of a political/nostalgic push to keep the Rose Bowl in a special place. Some of it has reason behind it. The Rose Bowl is special, but there’s no need to mix up everything. You can keep the Rose Bowl game, even if it doesn’t have the best possible teams. TCU and Wisconsin filled it just fine, despite the frowning of some ‘old-schoolers.’

Where is College Football going? Better places, hopefully. Not just the (cross your fingers) up and coming changes to the BCS system and the way to decide the national champions. Changes in what to do with the other bowl teams, to make things more interesting. Events for 10, 12 or 20 teams, changing the whole way bowl games are decided. Making the picks based on the level of teams and geographical sense. Sound good to me. Lets just hope money reasons don’t get in the way of change and common sense.

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