Another Defense of the BCS Over a College Football Playoff

If you’re in favor of a college football playoff, get ready because I’m right about this and the proverbial football is about to get spiked.

In case you weren’t reading this blog last year, I am a believer in the BCS. I am one of the few people left who doesn’t understand the desire to have a playoff system in place. I won’t make the same points I’ve made before, but please read the first post about this before reading the rest of this post: In Defense of the BCS Over a College Football Playoff

Notre Dame against Alabama for the BCS title this year: who doesn't agree with that?

Notre Dame against Alabama for the BCS title this year: who doesn’t agree with that?

To start, is there anyone out there that doubts the validity of the two teams in this year’s BCS title game? Notre Dame and Alabama deserve to be there and, if you’re asking me, there isn’t even another team worth being in this conversation. The BCS got it right again this year.

Here’s where things get interesting: I’d love for my readers who support a playoff to tell me how a four-team playoff would look this year. I’ll go through some details in the rest of this post, but keep in mind that I’m going to want some answers at the end of this.

Maybe the most important part of my defense of the BCS is that there isn’t a definitive way to rank teams at the end of the season. Whether two teams make the championship postseason (BCS) or four teams make it (the playoff system that will start in the 2014 season), there’s still going to be a last team in and a first team out. Changing how many teams make the postseason isn’t making the selection of those teams clearer.

For kicks and giggles, let’s imagine that the current college football postseason included the four-team playoff that everyone wanted so bad. How do those four teams get selected? In reality, the decision will be made by a 15-member committee. This year’s committee would be faced with a scenario that looks like this: Two of the four spots would be locked into Alabama and Notre Dame. The other two would likely be selected from a handful of second-tier teams. But which two make it? All of them to have about the same right to qualify for a playoff. Let’s look a little closer:

Florida (11-1): Among the one-loss teams, Florida has the best loss (Georgia). The Gators lost to the Bulldogs on a tie-breaker, but finished the regular season tied for the best record in the SEC. Currently ranked 3rd in the BCS and 4th in the AP. Of course, AP rankings also include Ohio State, which ends up bumping all of these teams back a spot. On the other hand, Florida wasn’t a conference champ and didn’t even qualify for their own conference championship game.

A four-team playoff sounds great until you actually have to pick four teams.

A four-team playoff sounds great until you actually have to pick four teams.

Oregon (11-1): Another team with only one “good” loss, against Stanford in overtime. The rest of this sounds like a carbon copy of the Florida writeup. They lost to the best team in their half of their conference, didn’t play in their conference championship and kept moving up when the teams in front of them lost. BCS/AP rankings of 4/5.

Kansas State (11-1): The last of the one-loss teams. By far the worst loss (Baylor), but the Wildcats also picked up five wins against top-25 teams, which is more than both the Ducks and the Gators (4 each). Kansas State is the only one of these teams to win a share of their conference championship, splitting the Big 12 title with Oklahoma. On top of that, the Wildcats are the only team in this discussion with a Heisman finalist. I don’t think that should matter in this discussion, but if you’re going to argue that the playoffs are better because they make more money, you have to consider which individual players will bring the biggest audience. BCS rank of 5, AP rank of 7.

Georgia (11-2): The Bulldogs are an interesting case. They finished the regular season ranked 3rd in both polls but lost to Alabama in the SEC championship game. The Dogs lost two games, both to top-10 teams, and was the only one of these teams to play in a postseason conference championship game. It really doesn’t make sense to count Georgia out of a four-team picture because they lost the SEC championship game. Final BCS/AP of 7/6

While we’re at it, why not consider

Stanford (11-2): Something the Cardinal can claim that no other team on this list can: an outright conference win. K-State finished tied for the Big 12 title, but assuming Notre Dame and Alabama are already in the playoff, Stanford is the highest-ranked team left with an outright title this season. Seems strange not to even have them in the conversation.

So, playoff fans, who gets in? Do you reward conference champs K-State and Stanford? Do you let Florida in even though Georgia beat them head-to-head? Do you let Oregon in even though Stanford beat them head-to-head? Do you put Florida and Oregon in the national championship postseason even though they didn’t even make their own conference postseasons?

After you decide what schools get in, what order do you seed them?

Please, tell me in the comments how a playoff would be better than the current BCS system this season.

email