Skip to comments.Last rites for the BCS
Posted on 01/06/2014 3:46:05 PM PST by rickmichaels
NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF. - For some, the celebration following Mondays NCAA championship game at the historic Rose Bowl stadium will feel like a wake.
For others, death to the Bowl Championship Series will be cause for a celebration.
Love it or loathe it, the most unique forum for declaring a champion in major North American sport will be put to rest in the shadow of the San Gabriel mountains following the clash between No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn.
After 16 years of bringing a semblance of structure to determining the champions of big-time college football, a true playoff format will debut next year.
Other than for self-professed purists who probably would have resisted the introduction of the forward pass if they were griping back in the day, it cant come soon enough. College football is too big and too complicated a beast to have computers and voters play such a significant role in declaring a champion.
The BCS format, which has evolved, was the first step. And its time for the evolution to continue.
We wouldnt have a playoff if we didnt have the BCS before it, the Bowl Series executive director, Bill Hancock, said here on media day for this years title game and end of an era.
The new era will begin with a four-team playoff two semifinals leading to a title match 12 days later at the conclusion of next season. It will fundamentally change the competitive structure, not to mention pour further untold riches into the coffers of the NCAA and participating schools.
So, what does it all mean?
A bit of background, first. Before the BCS was instituted, the national champions essentially were declared by voters, the final poll usually being released the day after the glut of Jan. 1 bowls, which meant much more at the time.
The BCS system evolved to the point where, most years at least, a clear No. 1 faced a clear No. 2 on championship night at a rotation through a handful of the major bowl stadiums. The rankings still determined who made it to the big game, but at least the final stroke was settled on grass or field turf.
How will it be better? Taking this years finalists as an example, both the Seminoles and Tigers would have had to face one more tough challenge to qualify for the big game. And theres a good chance two-time champion Alabama would have been back for a shot at a three-peat if the playoff format were already in place.
It is both the quirky magic and the frustrating curse of college football that one bad play and, thus, one untimely loss can all but eliminate a team from title consideration.
Auburn was the beneficiary of one such play back in late November when cornerback Chris Davis ran a missed field goal back 109 yards against Alabama, thrusting the Crimson Tide into championship talk while gutting their intra-state rivals. In the playoff system, it would be good enough to get them into a semifinal, but further validation would have been necessary.
Florida State, meanwhile, ended the season as the undisputed No. 1 after both Alabama and Ohio State suffered their first losses of the season. FSU has blown out opponent after opponent on its route to the Rose Bowl, but it too would have been required to offer one more form of proof by playing a top-four opponent in a national semifinal.
The outgoing BCS system was far from flawless and, some years, those warts were exposed. Two years ago, a pair of SEC teams Alabama and Auburn met in New Orleans, and that suitably fired up other conference commissioners to fast-track the playoff format.
And then there was 2004, when Auburn was undefeated, but was left out of the championship because it was behind both Oklahoma and USC in the polls.
The playoff format will feature four teams determined by a committee competing against each other in a pair of semifinal bowl games on Jan. 1. Rather than 30 days between the end of the season and the title tilt, it will now be 12 days from the semi to the final.
It will be a very tough thing because of the mental capacity to get up that many times, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said on Sunday. But its what well have to do and kids will adjust and adapt.
Its going to be a challenge. Its going to be that much harder to get where you want to go, thats for sure.
With so many conferences and schedules that vary widely in terms of degree of difficulty, the system wont be perfect, retaining that part of the charm and supreme drama of NCAA football.
A playoff system wont diminish the magic of the Auburn rally against Alabama and then the Ohio State loss to Michigan State to open the door to Pasadena. In fact, it may do the opposite: More drama, more excitement and more guarantees of a true, undisputed champion.
A team has a one-year identity, a one-year lifespan and this is the ultimate goal, Fisher said of the rapidly changing face of college football.
It will just require a different setting on the GPS to get there.
Colorado won with a loss, a tie, a fifth down given to them against Missouri, and Notre Dame’s winning bowl game td called back magically by the officials. That happened in 1990 and the press voted them as champion over undefeated Georgia Tech. The same media we hate in politics simply voted for their favorite teams back then. The BCS was far better. People who don’t like the BCS usually just don’t tend to like who won the championship. The BCS generally got it right, and certainly did so tonight.
I am opposed to the new system. It reduces the bowls, each of which has its unique traditions and pageantry, to mere playoffs.
I may be in the minority, but I would like to go back to having the season end with bowl games, with the national champion selected by coaches or sports writers. And I do not want the season extended into January. It’s already too long, beginning as it does in August.
I like the playoffs, but they could start earlier, with the championship game the week after New Years.
Waiting yet another week is going to drag this out too far.