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.