Cue Handel’s Messiah. Ring high from the mountains that joy has arrived on our shores. Oh yes, there will be celebration and you will remember where you were when you heard the news. The BCS conference commissioners have agreed on a format for a 4 team playoff in college football. It’s the one thing the game has missed since its inception and going forward.College football has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 2 decades. Once a regional game played by separate stages of the world, the game has become a national sensation where teams from all corners of the world can be viewed by anyone at any time. It’s a radical change from the days of feudal lords like Texas, Nebraska, Penn State, USC, and the like. And the game is better off.
Why did things change now? Well, first off, the BCS contract is up after the 2014 season, so you either renew the contract NOW or you make the change. You can’t wait for something to happen. You don’t go into a season with unknowns if you can help it. The conferences realized now was the time.
Last year, we got our first regular season rematch in the title game. We saw teams like Arkansas left out of the BCS because of a ridiculous rule that only two teams from a given conference could join the celebration. Why exclude a team just based on conference. Remember 07? Missouri was passed over for the BCS for Kansas (OU was conference champion and got the auto bid). Missouri fans don’t want to hear it but the dirty secret is that BOTH Mizzou and Kansas deserved a BCS trip. Illinois (another team Mizzou beat that season) and West Virginia both earned automatic bids. How does that make any sense? The fact WVU beat OU is absolutely irrelevant.
A huge credit goes to the conference commissioners for realizing it’s not about conference. In a sport that has become one of the two or three biggest in the country, you can’t worry about conference. Besides, there’s been so much shuffling, it’s hard enough keeping up with who is in what conference anyhow. They’ve decided it should be the top four teams in the country. The best teams out there should be the ones who get the chance at immortality.
Last year, they got it right, but how many controversies have there been in the short, but confusing, run of the BCS? How many times has it left your head spinning in confusion? I mean, you can use 2007 as a good example…what about 2004 when an undefeated Auburn squad was left out of the title game (USC won 55-19 over OU)…maybe you prefer 2001 when Nebraska was tapped for the National title game to take on Miami (Cornhuskers lost their final game of the regular season 62-36 to Colorado and didn’t play for the conference title).
The challenge will be getting university presidents to agree to the new format, but given you finally have consensus among the football leadership, I can only imagine they’ll go along. You only have 4 teams in the playoff so you can’t exactly say they’re extending the season. You aren’t going cause many students to miss class (to be fair, how many are really going at that time anyhow?) The bowties will probably agree because it ends the discussion and for the next decade, they no longer have to deal with the questions.
This is great news for the fans, who have clamored for a true champion for over 100 years. Rather than ambiguity of the bowls, or a champion being declared by the president, or some computer system that doesn’t factor in something like what they actually see on the field, you’re going to get what everyone loves…a clear bracket system that concludes with one team earning it on the field of play. It’s almost too simple.
We don’t have the details just yet, but who really cares. We’re going to get a playoff in college football. No one’s asking the game to be perfect, but this scenario seems to encourage much more fairness in the sport. As the game has grown into a multi-billion dollar business, it’s time for the crowning of a champion to evolve as well. Yesterday, the commissioners of college football finally realized that and we are all better off for their efforts.
So let the bracketology begin. Let the new football Joe Lunardi emerge before our eyes (here’s a hint, he goes by the name Joe Schad). Let the bells ring and the cheerleaders yell. College football has closed a major loophole in the sports world. We will have a champion on the field and that’s only where it will be decided. No “what if’s”, no computers, no questions. Let us all rejoice. The fatal blow has been struck in the most confusing system in sports. Order and simplicity has come to college football, the great game of the fall. Let us rejoice.