College Football’s Inevitable Move to a Playoff
As a kid I spent way too much time reading preseason college football magazines.
You name it, I read it. Or least sort of.
Most of my time was spent taking the preseason top 20s, combining and averaging them out in a systematic way, then adjusting those rankings to come up with what I believed was the ‘real’ rankings.
Yeah, that’s pretty much how the Bowl Championship Series operates — (maybe I was ahead of my time).
The BCS too uses power rankings, a variety of polls that still have significant bias, and it comes up with the top two teams that play in the national title game.
The BCS is probably the closest Division I college football will ever come to having a real national championship playoff. It is far from perfect, however.
It frankly discriminates against the likes of Boise State, Utah and other not-so-traditional powerhouses, namely because of conference affiliation. Well, those two programs’ successes in recent years have essentially put the whole debate to bed — yeah, smaller schools can compete and win.
Because of that bias we’ve seen politicians try to get involved — most recently Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, who wanted lawmakers to examine the way the BCS operates.
OK, it’s not a perfect system, but I’d rather not see Congress get involved — if you know what I mean.
That’s why the Utes’ move to the Pac 10 may have been the most significant conference switch during the offseason — yes, even more than the Nebraska/Big 12 saga.
Utah has shown in recent years that it probably belongs in the national spotlight. Most impressively the Utes knocked off last year’s national champ Alabama, in the Sugar Bowl two seasons ago.
At least now Utah will be playing in a BCS conference, where the only thing that stands in its way is winning. If Utah can win the Pac 10 or at least finish in the top three, it has a shot at the BCS every year.
That is significant.
It says to the rest of college football ‘forget you, BCS, if you won’t consider the smaller teams come championship time, then we’ll make you HAVE to recognize us.’
Nebraska’s move to the Big 10 and Colorado’s move to the Pac 10 along with Utah, are clearly the beginning of the formation of super conferences.
It would be foolish to think Nebraska will be the last team to join the Big 10, or the last team to move to a major conference in the next five or 10 years — Notre Dame likely will be the next big name school joining a conference.
This is not to say that every ‘small’ football school has the opportunity that Utah had to move to a BCS conference. Yet the larger conferences become — and they will get larger — the less likely the BCS can survive in its current format.
It would quickly lead to the death of college football polls playing the roll they do.
Super conferences make it a near certainty that Division I college football will move to a national playoff, via conference championship games.
If you look at Division I basketball, the move to the 64-team field in the NCAA tournament has rendered the polls almost meaningless.
I’d say that gig has worked out nicely, and really leaves little debate about who’s No. 1.
College football will get there, with or without preseason magazines.