Thursday, November 4, 2010

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A college football playoff would be fun

The system is broken. Fans know this. Colleges know this. 

I was inspired to write this column with today’s release of Death to the BCS by Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The book outlines a 16-team playoff that would become the new postseason. While not the first to look at a playoff system (
), it is a very coherent look at the current bowl failures and how a new system would be implemented.

In this system, 11 conference champions would be admitted, with 5 at-large teams rounding out the line up. Games would be hosted at the home stadium of higher seeded teams until the
Let’s plug in current conference leaders (selective choices made for conferences with two divisions and for wild cards):

ACC: Virginia Tech
Big East: Syracuse
Big Ten: Ohio State
Big Twelve: Nebraska
Conference USA: Southern Methodist
MAC: Northern Illinois
Mountain West: TCU
Pacific-10: Oregon
Southeastern: LSU
Sun Belt: Troy
Western Athletic: Boise State
Wild cards
-Michigan State
-South Carolina
-Oklahoma State
There are a lot of good teams in this mix, and I guarantee each of those above games are terrific. While there would be complaints from teams on the edge, I feel much less sympathy for a 3 or 4-loss squad cut from the playoff than an undefeated team with no shot for the title.
There is no reason D-IA football cannot adopt this type of structure. D-IAA, D-II, and D-III football each host these type of competitions. If athletes from small schools can handle these schedules, it can be brought to the big level.

The Virginia Tech benefit
It would be silly to think of a playoff without looking at the prospect of the impact of Virginia Tech. Long story short, I think we would still be in good shape to make a playoff run.
Noting Tech is one of only two teams currently holding streaks of 10 win seasons (with Texas), it would appear Blacksburg would be a playoff spot.

Where we might struggle is our seeding. Given our ability to lose in must-win (or should-win games) like our recent defeat to James Madison University, there’s a good chance we would drop seed if we entered a tournament on a low note, and make it difficult to enter on a wild card basis.

Tech would also have to deal with an overall weaker ACC impacting the overall conference scales. I’m sure frustration will be high when a strong playing Hokie (or Hurricane or Yellow Jacket) squad qualifies but is seeded low with lousy play from their conference rivals.

Even if Tech did not get into the playoff, the positive news is with the playoff system, the current lower end bowls would still have a place in the system. Even if we were not selected for the big dance, our fan base would still travel in number necessary to make a bowl run viable. The Chick-fil-a and Gator Bowls would still be there for us.
The move from the BCS to a playoff is the right move.