I wanted to start of by saying that I realize you can’t appease everyone’s interests and goals when it comes to anything in life, let alone a playoff system in college football. However, I’m not the biggest fan of the four-team playoff for several reasons.
First, the NCAA can still keep the bowls and have playoffs at the same time, they just don’t realize it. Yes, I understand the importance of bowl games in college football and I love watching them all as bowl season is an early Christmas present in my mind. However, put this in perspective. Say they do a playoff system similar to D-IAA, where 20 teams make it in and it takes 5 weeks to play, if the season ends the second week in December, that means the postseason ends roughly around the same time it does already. So when would the bowl games be played? During the week similar to the way they already are now. In this way, college football can still make money off the bowl games, and still have the intrigue of a postseason that actually matters based on performance, not polls. The other point regarding the bowls is that all other levels of college football do it. As long as a team posts a .500 winning percentage or better they are bowl eligible. As a former Division III football player at Salisbury University, I can tell you we’ve played in many an ECAC bowl game which is right after our regular season. Groups like the ECAC exists across all levels of college football and there’s no reason that it’s cant be done, or even if you don’t have ECAC bowls, keep the bowls and their advertising groups, but they don’t have to be rid of.
Second, we’ll still see the same teams as always. I’m not saying I don’t mind watching the big guys in college football as I’m an avid believer that it’s the SEC vs. the rest of the NCAA (Go Gators!). At the same time, I like seeing the underdogs get their fair share. While one might say, the top 4 isn’t always indicative of conference winners and teams like TCU and BSU can sneak in, will the people all vote that way? This debate is kind of like the Timothy Bradley vs. Pac-Man decision. Any sport that is subject to human error, voting or judging, will receive scrutiny. However, college football already has such a love affair with the “BCS” conferences, I don’t think a MAC or Sun Belt team that may go 12-0 and cracks the to 25, will ever get a chance for a national title in a four team playoff.
Third, the Notre Dame effect. Something just seemed fishy to me that the Notre Dame athletic director was the one delivering the message to the world regarding the playoff system. Then, it all made sense, they no longer need the hassle of joining a conference and can remain independent. It’s a genius move for a team that hasn’t had glory days since the Lou Holtz era, but now all that Brian Kelly has to do is coach up his team, recruit well, and jack up their schedule with tough opponents and they are back in the promised land.
Last but not least, every other division of football has at least a 20 team playoff. D1-AA has 20, D2 has 24 D3 has 32. While the big schools generally dominate these systems as well, there are still Cinderella stories like St. John Fisher making the final eight in D3, and that’s what big-time college football needs.
No system will be perfect and anything is better than the BCS, and as a college football fan, at least there are semifinals and a final game to look forward to.