This Sunday the pairings for the five BCS Bowl games will be announced. As usual there will be much controversy over the teams playing in the championship game. It is almost a forgone conclusion that when USC beats UCLA that the Trojans will be selected to play Ohio State in the BCS title game. While Ohio State is clearly the number one team in college football, is USC the clearcut number two? The answer to that question is no. What makes USC a better team than Florida or Michigan? They're both one loss teams why aren't either one of those teams number two. The answer, because a few computers, ex players and coaches (Harris Poll) and a bunch of current coaches who have more important things to worry about than how a team across the country is playing, say so. Since it's inception in 1998 the BCS has had some sort of controversy almost every year. Teams such as Cal, Oregon and USC have been wronged by this flawed system. Why not have a playoff so championships are settled on the field of play rather than by some computer? I have yet to hear a valid argument on why college football should not have a playoff.
There are four main arguments that I have heard against a playoff. The first one I have heard is a playoff will cause players to miss too much class time. Class time is important but players would never have to miss more than one day of class in a given week to go to an out of town playoff game. Plus many schools will be in Christmas break during much of the playoffs so players would miss very little class time. Division 1AA, Division II and Division three all have a playoff format to decide their championship yet missed class time doesn't seem to be an issue to them. The NCAA awards 88 championships in 23 different sports all of which have some sort of tournament in which an athlete may miss class. If it is such a big deal for Division IA football then why isn't it a big deal for the 88 other championships? Sounds like a poor excuse to me.
Another reason is Bowl tradition. For years the minor bowls were played before New Years day and the major bowl games were played on New Years day. This years Bowl Schedule features six games after New Years day. Then there's the Rose Bowl which traditionally has had the Pac Ten and Big Ten team champions. In recent years Texas, Oklahoma and Miami have played in the Rose Bowl. This years Rose Bowl will feature the Big 10 runner up and another team such as Notre Dame or LSU. There are also way too many Bowl Game, is there any tradition in San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, The Bell Hellicopter Armed Forces Bowl, The PapaJohns.com Bowl or The Meineke Car Care Bowl. In case you haven't figured it out yet, what I'm getting at here is that there no longer any tradition left in the Bowl Games.
Many people say that a playoff would diminsh the importance of the regular season. A playoff in no way is going to diminish the importance of the regular season. If you had a sixteen team playoff including eleven conference champions and five at large teams, the regular season will remain just as important. If you don't win your conference it's going to be awfully difficult for a team to get in so they better win every game if they want to be guarenteed a playoff spot.
The fourth arguement I commonly hear is that it would make it more difficult and expensive for fans to travel. As a fan I can understand this arguement, with a playoff it would make it difficult to make travel plans but I would argue that Basketball fans seem to have no problem doing it. Under my plan the first two rounds would be played at the stadium of the higher seeded team. Meaning that only half of the fans would have to make travel arrangements. Some fans may have some tough choices to make but I just don't see this as a reason not to have a playoff.
The real reason why there is no playoff in college football is money. There is so much money from corperate sponsors and TV revenue in these bowl games that the conference commisioners and University Presidents are afraid to implement a playoff. It is my belief that a playoff would be just as lucrative or even more lucrative than the current system. Major sponsor would be lining for the right to have their name on the playoff and I'm sure that ESPN/ABC would put up a lot of cash for the right to show the games on TV. The legendary singer/songwriter George Harrison once sang "all things must pass", the bowl system was good for its time but its time has passed.