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Let There Be Light… NCAA Playoffs Are Here

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The moment that we have all been waiting for, the same moment that we’ve been told will never happen, is finally on the precipice of reality. Which glorious beacon of light am I referring to? Since you clicked on the headline for this article, you already know, but for the sake of further clarity, the powers that be in the NCAA have agreed upon the structure of a 4-team college football playoff system.

The system breaks down like this:

The BCS is dead, gone, finito

  • 4 teams will be selected by a committee much like March Madness
  • 2 semifinal games will be played within the current “BCS” bowls
  • The winners of these games will meet in a national championship game with the location selected based on a bidding system.
  • This setup will begin for the 2014 season

While I hate to give credit to people who have been withholding this type of pseudo-tournament from us for so long, at least they finally did something right.

I don’t think that this is the perfect system (If I were college football czar with unlimited power, here is what I would do), but it is a good start. I would prefer a slightly expanded system, but this is a time to celebrate, not nitpick. Besides playoffs always expand, it’s the nature of the beast and the nature of human greed. Using the NCAA basketball tournament as a guide, it’s all but a foregone conclusion that this will soon morph and become an 8 or 16-team event. Pandora’s box has finally been opened. Don’t think expansion will happen? Have a look at the evolution of March Madness:

  • 1939–1950: eight teams
  • 1951–1952: 16 teams
  • 1953–1974: varied between 22 and 25 teams
  • 1975–1978: 32 teams
  • 1979: 40 teams
  • 1980–1982: 48 teams
  • 1983: 52 teams (four play-in games before the tournament)
  • 1984: 53 teams (five play-in games before the tournament)
  • 1985–2000: 64 teams
  • 2001–2010: 65 teams (with an opening round game to determine whether the 64th or 65th team plays in the first round)
  • 2011–present: 68 teams (four play-in games in the first round before all remaining teams compete in the second round)

…and with the discussion of further NCAA basketball expansion, a 96 or even 128-team tournament could be on the horizon.

While football will never approach that kind of expansion, it also will not take as long to expand. Football is the NCAA cash cow with seemingly unlimited amounts of milk. It’s only a matter of time (and by time I envision 3-5 years) before 4 becomes 8 and 8 becomes 12 or 16. Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott has already alluded to as much. “I’m sure it won’t satisfy everyone,” Scott said. “Until you have an eight-team or 16-team seeded playoff, there will be folks out there that aren’t completely satisfied. We get that. But we’re trying to balance other important parties, like the value of the regular season, the bowls, the academic calendar.” He should’ve changed “other important parties” to “how much money we can make.” None of that really matters though. He could’ve said “with all the money we are going to make I’m going to build a house with hundred dollar bills and burn it to the ground” and nobody would’ve batted an eyelash. A college football playoff is here and it’s here to stay. The other shoe has dropped; the toothpaste is out of the tube… there’s no going back from here. The only thing that remains to be seen is if my grandkids someday look at PPNC (pre-playoff national championships) in the same way that 95% of NFL football fans look at pre-Super Bowl NFL championships… As a line of demarcation between old and young… “You were ALIVE before Super Bowls??? WOW… Did they even have food back then?”

Even if that happens, who cares, I’ll be old, but I’ll be watching an NCAA football playoff game, and that’s all that really matters.



4 Responses to “Let There Be Light… NCAA Playoffs Are Here”

  1. We all knew/hoped for this to come, so this is the first step.

    What I still think is missing here is how this actually EFFECTS the Football Players and the Game. Switching to a tournament formal, you’ll now decrease the prep time between the games, which while I agree a month is too much between games, but eventually with 8 teams, 16 teams, you’ll now pit the best teams against each other with a week to prepare? What sort of product will we get? I do not believe it will be optimal. College football teams rely on scheming for individual opponents more than their Pro breatheran, and having short turnaround weeks has the potential (and in my opinion likelyhood)to devalue this leaving us with a less than optimal product.
    I mean, if you want to make the players play as if its a Pro-League, then they should just eliminate the need for these athletes to participate in In-Season Academics. You’re cutting into study and Finals time as the playoff expand.
    Sure, High School does it….smaller conferences do it….but they are not as nearly Money Driven, and their product is not nearly that of the D-I schools.


    Posted by Percy Miller | June 22, 2012, 12:25 pm
  2. The way that is is now, the season ends in late November/early December. That leaves a month with no football AND no school. If they had 8 teams with the first round say the 2nd week of December it would set up like this (assuming all higher seeds advance):

    #1 v #8: Dec 15
    #2 v #7: Dec 15
    #3 v #6: Dec 15
    #4 v #5: Dec 15

    They could then take 2 weeks off:

    #1 v #4: Dec 29
    #2 v #3: Dec 29

    Then another 2 weeks and have

    #1 v #2: Jan 12

    This year’s national title game was January 9th. So, hardly extending the season, two weeks between games, and an 8 team playoff.

    Posted by Jason Marlo | June 22, 2012, 1:26 pm
  3. As someone who was alive pre-Super Bowl, and tonight feeling old. I did not all the time like the system that was, however it kept the colege football talk going all year round. Fans screaming one way or the other, how bad the system is/was. Silly me, I thought that was the idea. I keep forgetting about the money. The author is correct, 4 now, soon to be 8, then 16. “show me the money”. I’m not part of the 10%. I used to have hockey season tickets and enjoyed taking my son to the games when I could. Now if I go once a year, I feel like a success. How the fans are going to follow their team in the playoffs, I don’t know. If the Buckeyes are #1, do you go to the first game? Or skip that, hope they win and make plans for the second? Like Jimmy Buffet wrote “I made enough money to buy Miami, but I pissed it away so fast” When I get enough money again, I won’t be spending it going to college football playoff games. I hope my son’s children get to see some live sports, college or pro, because this “older man” does not think the current climate can be sustained. I think some leagues should be contracted and I think some seasons should be shortened. But until someone kills the golden goose, greed will rule. Enough pontificating from me for now, I have to check how many people have jumped back on Eldric’s bandwagon again.

    Posted by Pops | July 1, 2012, 11:30 pm
  4. And I know there are 2 “t”s in Buffett. Where’s the spell check when I need it?

    Posted by Pops | July 1, 2012, 11:32 pm

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