College football is ready for a playoff in 2014. Hallelujah!
Sources told ESPN.com that under the recommended model, four participating teams would be selected by a committee, which would consider certain criteria such as conference championships and strength of schedule.
The two national semifinal games would be played within the existing BCS bowl games (Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar) on a rotating basis, with the host sites being predetermined before each season. The national championship game would be offered to the highest bidding city.
I could not be happier. Well, I could be, but for now, I am happy. I suggested that running this exact format with a selection committee a little over two weeks ago in a blog.
The advantage of a committee is the ability to reason face to face. Communication will be improved, and although personal agendas may arise, they’ll be much harder to pass forward in this group meeting setting versus a coach voting for what is best for his school or his conference.
Going with the four “best teams” model eliminates any potential drama that an “all-conference champions” model, or a “3 and 1” model or any other would bring. Those models have limitations. Choosing the four best teams does not.
1. Rankings don’t matter. They are there as a guide, if you choose to look at them, but they are completely irrelevant.
2. Seeding can be done however deemed fit.
3. Schedule strength can really matter in deciding between unbeaten teams, 1-loss teams, and even 2-loss teams.
4. A conference championship can still have value as a tiebreaker when the voting is close. The best example could be looking at the 2005 season.
In the BCS rankings USC and Texas were #1 and #2 and both unbeaten. After that Big Ten champ Penn State was 11-1 and #3. And then it got messy. #4 Ohio State (9-2), #5 Oregon (10-1), #6 Notre Dame (9-2), #7 Georgia (10-2), #8 Miami (9-2), #9 Auburn (9-2), #10 Virginia Tech (10-2), and #11 West Virginia (10-1). The Bulldogs won the SEC and although the “polls” had them ranked 7th, you could argue as a conference champ they should get the #4 seed. #11 West Virginia won the Big East and could also be in the conversation.
5. Flexibility is present. That is the major underlining point. No polls or rules to abide by. Just “intelligent” conversation and logic.
There will still be polls, and fans will use that as a measuring stick. There will still be debate over seeding, over who gets in and doesn’t and why a conference champ was left out or put in even though rankings, or heaven-forbid, record indicates that was a controversial move. A team with 2-losses might be more deserving than a team with 1-loss. I absolutely thought the polls were wrong to have Stanford who got crushed at home by Oregon ahead of the Ducks who lost on a last second FG to USC and lost to #1 LSU, but were the PAC-12 champs. It’s true, I or you may disagree with the committee, but I trust a group of people meeting together over the Coach’s poll (agendas), Harris poll (regional bias), and computers (different criteria).
Of course the school presidents must still pass this new format, but I hope, we all hope, that will happen. I am satisfied. For now. I’d like to see an 8-team playoff. And then a 12 or 16-team playoff. But finally we moving away from the archaic system that was. I can live with that. Is is 2014 yet?