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Be Prepared, The New Playoff Will Lead To Even More Bickering

Sorry for the slow start to the day.  Had some radio work to do this morning in Missouri and also had a little business to attend to after that.

But in between I started to make a mental list of all the issues that will now be argued and debated regarding college football’s new playoff.  Already today we looked at the possibility that a team ranked #4, #3, or even #2 in the human polls might not make the playoff field.  But that’s going with an obvious controversial topic.  We all know that any fanbase whose school is ranked in the Top 10 will squawk about “selection committee bias” if their school’s not invited to take part in a given playoff.  That’s easy.

But what about all of the following sore spots?


1.  Who’s selected for the playoff?

That’s obvious, see here.


2.  Who will be on the selection committee, how will that committee be chosen, what factors will they use in making their decisions, and how much bias will exist?

We’ll just lump 95% of the selection committee issues into one blurb.  All of the above will now be up for the Skip Bayless Vs. Stephen A. Smith, point-counterpoint treatment.


3.  Will the process be transparent?

For some reason, many people are saying a committee will be more transparent than the old BCS (polls and computers).  Have I missed the broadcasts when television cameras have taken us inside the NCAA Tournament selection committee meetings?  That seems to be a process shrouded in mystery.  Depending on how things are actually handled, this new process could be even less transparent than what we’ve had in the past.


4.  How consistent will the committee be year-in and year-out?

Every March some team gets red-roped at the door of the Big Dance when a team with a similar record from a similar conference made it into the same tourney the year prior.  This ties into the transparency issue, but will we have any idea from year-to-year what to expect from the selection panel?


5.  How will the money be divvied up?

No need for an explanation here.  This one will be very hotly debated.  The powers-that-be need to hope that the little guys of the world will be happy to get the same size slice — small — of a much larger overall pie.  If not, expect threats of lawsuits and legislation just as we’ve experienced in the BCS era.


6.  Will the playoff field truly be open to all?

Utah and TCU have moved into power leagues, but I’m still going to use them as an example here, based on past history.  I think a very, very strong argument could be made that non-traditional powers like Cincinnati, Boise State and TCU and Utah (in their small conference days) would have had a better shot at making a playoff with a combination of human polls and computer rankings.  A selection committee will be more likely to ask, “Yeah, but who did you really play?”


7.  Which bowls will be part of the rotation?

That’s still to be determined at this point.  Heck, we don’t even know if the SEC/Big 12 “Champions” Bowl will be its own bowl or whether it will be rolled into an existing game.  But you can be sure Big Ten and Pac-12 fans won’t be happy every third year — at least that’s the current assumed rotation — when the Rose Bowl becomes a semifinal game that might not involve a team from either of those conferences.  You can also be sure Big Ten and Big East fans would like to see a bowl in the Midwest or Northeast — good luck finding one — in the rotation, too.


8.  How will the seeding and bracketing work?

For television purposes, you can expect any rematches between teams or any in-conference battles to be played out in a semifinal as opposed to the championship game.  If 2011 were to be repeated and the top four-ranked teams were chosen (see: Point One above), then it’s likely #1 LSU would have played #2 Alabama in one game while #3 Oklahoma State faced #4 Stanford in the other… in order to set up a fresh title game to drive up television ratings.  Folks won’t just argue over who’s selected for the playoff.  They’ll argue over how they’re seeded.


9.  Which bowls will get which teams?

There was talk of “anchor bowls” tying conferences to their traditional bowl partners, but with a rotation of bowls now in the works, that’s likely dunzo.  So, in a given year, which teams will be sent to Pasadena and which teams will be sent to, let’s say, New Orleans?  Will a team be allowed to play close to home?  Will teams be bracketed so that both schools are as equidistant as possible from a given bowl site?  People won’t just argue over who’s selected for the playoff or over how the teams are seeded.  They’ll also argue over which teams are sent to which sites and how much travel is involved.  The bowls will be keeping a close eye on that one, as well.  The Rose Bowl wouldn’t want Florida State and Alabama in Pasadena if Southern Cal and Michigan were available.


10.  What about the kickoff times?

Reportedly, the Rose Bowl isn’t going to budge from it’s afternoon kickoff time on New Year’s Day (it’s big concession was apparently losing its yearly Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup, though it had already given that up as part of the BCS rotation).  As part of this new playoff consortium, the Rose likely won’t be forced to go head-to-head with a semifinal game in years that it’s not hosting one of those games.  Because of that, we’ll have semis on New Year’s Day some years and New Year’s Eve on others.  Is there anyone who doesn’t think the playoffs should be held on New Year’s Day each and every season?  And God help us if/when one semifinal is played on December 31st and the other is played on January 1st.  There will be some serious cries of bias from the January 1st group.   They won’t like the fact that their championship game foe will have had an extra day to travel, sell tickets, watch tape, practice, rest and/or heal.


That’s just a quick Top 10 list.  There are many, many other controversies that I’m sure I didn’t think of while driving around speaking notes into my iPhone this morning.

But here’s one last nugget just for kicks (that we also mentioned yesterday).  This new playoff is not run by the NCAA.  It’s not the NCAA Tournament of football or the College World Series of football.  It’ll be run by the schools themselves.  So while we’ll all know who the national champion is at the conclusion of the title game, that champ still won’t technically be “official” when it comes to the NCAA record book.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I like the idea of a playoff.  I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about that.  But anyone who thinks this new system will start fewer arguments and fistfights than the old system is beyond bonkers.

At, we believe the new system will lead to even more bickering.




And those are just the first 10 things that will cause bickering. Bottom line, the nature of college football and its attendant bowl system interfere with the goal of achieving a clear cut process for determining a national championship. And major modifications to the bowl system ain't going to happen, because greed is more important than determining a champion. (See #'s 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and 10 for reasons why).


So, in our never ending quest to crown a national champion, while keeping the sanctity of the bowls, we are getting a process that looks a lot more open to the effects of politics than the system it is replacing. Heck, there just isn't anyone out there who could be put on the committee who is not biased. And if two or more of those guys, committed to doing good, decide that for the good of college ball, we need to lift a team with a 12-0 record against nobodies to the final four because ..... pick a reason, then its toast with the fans too. Nah, this is a classic example of too many smart guys in a room trying to figure out how to make everybody happy but the 600 pound simian in the middle of the room. (can you say SEC?) 


Any bets on when the first accusations of partisanship and political maneuvering start flying?  Think they will start the instant any final plan is announced.... or leaked... 


7:  expect to see bids from Indianapolis and Detroit for the final.  If they look to rotate it 'every' year, I expect to see both in rotation as to look impartial.  If they sign multi-year deals, or deals that rotate among a select few, neither will win.


10.  I don't know what to expect when it comes to what day the semi's will be.  The good news is the organizers get to decide that by choosing when the bowls are played.  They could follow the NFL model and put them on different days so they can build audience for other bowls or they can put them one after the other so they feed each other.  Putting them on different days adds more money to other bowls while putting one team at a potential disadvantage.  Putting them on the same day promotes fairness but leaves some $$ on the table.  I'm guessing they'll prefer different days when Championship Monday is on, say 1/9 or later and the same day if it falls earlier.  


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