No, I'm not talking about hanging stockings or lighting Menorahs, but rather my annual bashing of the BCS and how it skullfucks my beloved college football.
While it is truth that college football has never had a clear-cut way of determining a champion, the BCS has only personified this problem ten fold. How a computer determining who gets to play for a championship is better than a few hackneyed sportswriters determining the same... well, you got me.
(Of course the biggest problem is that the NCAA doesn't even officially recognize a national champion. Seriously. They don't have an official champ for their primary money-maker.)
I used to enjoy the bowl system, I really did. Bowl week provided a plethora of interesting and exciting match-ups that we weren't privy to in the regular season. But over the years the system has become diluted by an overabundance of new bowls.
While defenders of the bowl system will tout the grand tradition of the bowls, they really have lost all of their ground to stand on. Sure, there are a handful of bowls that possess storied traditions. But once the Rose Bowl accepted a sponsor into its name then all hope was lost. Hell, even the Cotton Bowl is moving away from the Cotton Bowl after this year. I will never tell my kids tales of the great PapaJohns.com Bowls of my youth, I can assure you of this.
So that argument is dead. Money? We all know a playoff would rake. Ratings and attendance? Even the great game between TCU and Boise St. had a shit ton of empty seats.
The one semi-decent anti-playoff argument is the fear that a playoff system would diminish from the regular season. To a certain point, this is true. The SEC Championship between Alabama and Florida wouldn't have had the "Armageddon win or be fucked" hype surrounding it. However, Alabama's undefeated season would have still been on the line. Tim Tebow's redemption mission would not have been forsaken. The SEC Title would have still been up for grabs. My point is: shit still would've mattered a whole lot to those kids and the fans.
One of anti-playoff stances that pisses me off most is when people tell me I have no grasp and no respect for tradition. I say fuck you, douchebag. When you tell me that Ohio St. would rest their starters against Michigan, who has lost their grip on reality? If you truly believe Alabama would not have wanted to hand down the same ass beating on Auburn, you are mental.
Bringing a playoff to major college football would not make it the NFL. There is a different passion in the players, a different devotion in the fan base. College football is not the NFL, and it never will be. A playoff would not bring it any closer to its professional brother than all of the corporate sponsorship or media overexposure.
Ohio St. would not rest starters against Michigan. Alabama would still hate Auburn. Happy Valley would still play host to over 110,000 fans.
College football would change with a playoff, and it would change for the better.
So, the question is of course, how do we work this playoff?
In my perfect world, there would be a 16-team playoff. The conference winners -- ALL of them -- get automatic bids. That leaves five at-large bids to the best of the rest. How do we determine said at-large bids? Human selection committee, just like basketball. Use the BCS like the RPI.
To quell the bitching about playing too many games, we shorten the regular season back to 11 games. Begin Labor Day weekend, end weekend after Thanksgiving with conference title games. Max games a team would play? 16. Same as... oh, every other college football division.
Each conference must determine a true champion. Either play a title game or round robin schedule. That means the Big 10 adds Notre Dame, changes their name to something stupid like the Great Lakes Conference.
There are 15 games in a 16-team playoff, so that means 15 sites get to host games (I've long thought the first round should be campus sites, but the bowl cities would bitch too much).
As for teams that don't make it? I have no problem with have a few extra bowls to act like the NIT. Although, I would like a minimum record of 7-4 to get in said bowls.
It's that simple, really.
What would this year look like?
1. Florida (SEC) vs. 16. Buffalo (MAC)
2. Texas (at-large) vs. 15. Troy (Sun Belt)
3. Oklahoma (Big 12) vs. 14. East Carolina (C-USA)
4. Alabama (at-large) vs. 13. Cincinnati (Big East)
5. USC (Pac 10) vs. 12. Virginia Tech (ACC)
6. Penn St. (Big 10) vs. 11. TCU (at-large)
7. Utah (MWC) vs. 10. Ohio St. (at-large)
8. Texas Tech (at-large) vs. 9. Boise St. (WAC)