Sunday, May 04, 2008

BCS Scuttles a College Football Playoff

The BCS has shot down the "Plus-One" model as a quasi-playoff system for college football. I never was a big fan of the "Plus One" model, except perhaps as baby steps towards a real playoff. Why not "plus one"? It emphasizes the worst of both systems. It keeps the bowls and fan inconvenience in place. It lengthens the season for some teams, and one more team ends up the season a loser. What's the advantage? Well, now the complaints about the BCS come from the fifth place team, not the third place team. And we've now got some sort of answer when there appear to be more than two title worthy teams.

I'm not a fan of the current bowl system. Don't get me wrong... I've had fun in places like Miami (love the weather, hate the travel) and Phoenix at New Years. (Even Pasadena can be enjoyable if you don't go intoside that toilet of a stadium.) But getting travel plans is frequently difficult and expensive. For the 1996 Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech, I had two choices: fly out of Omaha and pay nearly $1000 a ticket, or fly out of Kansas City for half that, but fly back at 6 am New Years morning, only about 7 hours after the game ended. Yuck.

Before "alliances" and the BCS, New Years Day was a football party, with three early games to choose from, followed by the "Irrelevant Yawner Bowl" from Pasadena, and the night cap of the Orange and Sugar Bowls in primetime. And for a few years in the early 90's, the Cotton and Fiesta Bowls were played opposite the Rose Bowel, meaning you had football nirvana.

Not anymore. The BCS spreads the big games out single file, and the early games are pretty much over before some people recover from New Years Eve. (WTF is the point of starting two games at 10 am on New Years morning?) Add in four minute commercial breaks and bad matchups, it's just not what it used to be.

I like the BCS system for ranking teams, though I still think strength of schedule needs to be brought back into the system. It might have saved us from watching Ohio State get blasted in January. Even better is if you'd take the BCS rankings and seed a playoff.

If we're going to have the current tedious games and matchups like Georgia/Hawaii, we might as well do it as part of a playoff.

Last season, our opening matchups in an eight-game playoff would be:
#8 Kansas @ #1 (yeah right) Ohio State, 2 pm
#7 USC @ #2 LSU, 5 pm
#6 Missouri @ #3 Virginia Tech, 11 am
#5 Georgia @ #4 Oklahoma, 8 pm

Those primetime matchups look pretty good to me, and you still could have the bowls for the other teams. Play these games in lieu of the conference championship games or the next weekend. Ohio State, LSU, and Oklahoma all have stadiums larger than the bowl games, so you have better attendance and better atmosphere. Assuming the higher seeds win, turn around and have the following matchups the next week:

Oklahoma @ Ohio State, 2 pm
Virginia Tech @ LSU, 7 pm
(Yes, I know that the visitors in those games would have been Missouri and Georgia.) Again, some good matchups to watch on TV, and nearly 200,000 fans would attend those semifinal games.

The Journal-Star debates this internally and makes some good points on both sides. Tom Osborne surprised me with his support of the current bowl system. If you want to do a playoff, don't mess around with "Plus One". Why make fans travel twice in one week? And why take the higher attendance possibilities of home games off the table. If you want a playoff, do a playoff. But if you keep the bowl system, fill New Years Day up again instead. There's a reason why the NCAA basketball tournament is so successful, and one big reason is that they play 4 games simultaneously all day, and rotate you around the games if you don't have a regional interest in a game. If the NCAA took the bowl game approach, the first round would take a week and a half to play, and those blowout first round games would kill any buzz that a Davidson could provide.

I'll take a playoff over the current BCS setup. But we'll have to wait until 2014 and the end of the BCS to make it happen. My guess is that someone is going to put together a billion dollar proposal that will get the attention of college football's power brokers and make it happen. It'll be HUGE.


TB said...

I know you were just making assumptions for the sake of an argument, but Missouri would have laid waste to Va. Tech last season.

Husker Mike said...

Yepper... Georgia would have beaten Oklahoma as well...