There are only 2 options. If the committee is adamant that it can only be 4 teams, then create 4 - 16 team conferences and have the champions square off. Otherwise, have an 8 team tournament with 5 major conference champs and 3 wild cards. Under all other proposed plans there are serious flaws, most notably if 5 or more teams go undefeated. Not likely, but possible. All the people who are against a champions only tournament to protect a second SEC team would be up in arms if a SEC champion had 2 losses and no SEC team was included in a highest 4 seeded tournament. We have got to protect the champions in the major conferences to legitimize the regular season and to encourage quality non conference games. The thought that if a team lost a game that attendance would tank is flawed. The only time a team that lost a game and not still be alive for a conference title would be so late in the season that attendance would not significantly "plummet". No different than today. There is still the possibiltiy of a really good bowl game just like today. Unfortunately, there are too many problems for any kind of real playoff setup - need for schools to pad their budgets with weak non conference games mandating 12 regular season games, not playing games during finals week, not competing directly with the NFL playoffs, desire not to play games in the Spring Semester, need to protect bowl cartel, attendance issues at neutral site games 2 or 3 weeks in a row, need to protect major conferences, concern that Congess will get involved if everybody is not placated.
With BCS conference commissioners meeting today in Dallas to discuss a college football playoff that seems to be reaching sure-thing status, the man who dreamed up the BCS still backs his system.
Former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer warns of the dangers involved with a playoff in today’s Chattanooga Times Free Press:
“I’m not sure I would change anything. You’re not going to end the controversy if you pick four teams, because now you’re picking between teams that are fourth and fifth, and that’s going to be a lot more controversial than picking the top two teams, because all of those teams are going to look alike. You would have had tremendous controversy last year over who that fourth team was going to be…
There is a danger in this of going too far, and you can see that to a degree through basketball. We’ve left college basketball as a one-month sport, because people are only interested in March. They’re not interested in college basketball in December or January, because people view those games as preliminary games. You have to be careful, because college football is different.
College football is the backbone of college athletic programs, and you’ve got to make the regular season significant and keep it significant. So whatever structure you come up with, you cannot overlook the regular season and the importance of what that is to all of our programs.”
Kramer — whom we respect for his visionary leadership of the SEC — makes some valid points. First, there will indeed be controversy even with a playoff system.
How are the teams picked — by a panel, a computer, or a mixture of both such as the current BCS formula? If there’s a panel, who’s on it? Each March analysts and fans bark about the NCAA Tournament selection committee and its at-large choices for slots 65 through 68. People will continue to argue over football’s postseason as well.
But in our view, it’s better to argue about teams Four and Five than teams Two and Three. Team Five has less claim to a national title than Team Three. End of story.
We do, however, agree totally with Kramer when it comes to protecting the regular season. Any playoff the BCS league commissioners come up with should feature no more than four teams. Anything more — eight, 16 — would render the regular season less important.
Ironically, this is another reason that a champions-only playoff should not be created. In such a system — with no wild card spot(s) available — as soon as a team falls out of its league’s championship race, attendance could plummet. Already schools are having to fight HD and 3D televisions for customers. Schools need to keep regular season games meaningful September through November if they’re going to continue to make enough money to support all of the many smaller sports on their campuses.
Television money goes a long way, certainly, but so does the cash coming in from the sale of tickets, parking permits and concessions. Not to mention the traffic brought into campus area businesses seven or eight weekends per year.
To protect the regular season, any playoff needs to be capped at four teams and needs to include (at least) one wild card opening. (We would prefer simply taking the top four teams in the rankings, but it seems rival leagues are hellbent on preventing the SEC from getting two teams into a playoff. A one-wild-card compromise might be the best hope at this point.)
Making sure that only four teams take part in a playoff would also protect the existing bowl structure and — as a result — further help on the attendance front for school’s making late-season pushes to reach bowl eligibility status.
Unlike Kramer, we’re ready to see the old BCS system to the door. But like the ex-commish, we do see some dangers involved in “playoff creep.” Here’s hoping those commissioners meeting today in Dallas see those dangers, too.