Archive for Thursday, December 6, 2007

Column: Eight-team BCS playoff possibility

December 6, 2007

BCS -- three letters that strike fear into the heart of college football fans and coaches.

Once again the Bowl Championship Series has itself a mess. Every year this happens -- teams get shafted out of the national championship or other bowl games -- but this year was the cherry on top.

The fall of 2007 was unlike any other in NCAA history. It was full of historic upsets and top teams not living up to their hype or ranking. A perfect example of this came Saturday night, even after the final conference championships were decided.

Missouri (previous No. 1) and West Virginia (previous No. 2) had the BCS title game all but clinched heading into Saturday. Missouri was crunched by Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game 38-17. West Virginia was stung by rival Pittsburgh 13-9 in its final regular season contest.

Then, add the fact that LSU defeated Tennessee for the SEC title, only a week after falling to unranked Arkansas. It looked like the Tigers' title shot was dashed, but not so fast.

You can't blame the BCS for the wacky fall of football. That is one power it doesn't have.

The BCS' nightmare happened Saturday. How did it fix itself?

It tried to choose the best two teams in the country for the national championship game. Who would they be? Of course perennial powers, Ohio State (11-1) and LSU (12-1) were chosen. Why those two teams? No one is quite sure.

My guess is that LSU won the toughest conference in the country and Ohio State was ranked No. 3 heading into the weekend and didn't have to play a Big 10 title game.

Why not give the Sooners a shot at the title? They defeated the previous No. 1 team, who beat the previous No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks, to win the Big 12. Sure, Oklahoma lost to a pair of unranked teams, but the Sooners beat the best when they needed to.

I hate to admit this, but maybe USC should have received a title shot. The Trojans don't play a PAC-10 title game, but a victory in such a game might have boosted them enough to play in the national championship.

One other team worthy of a title game shot could have been Virginia Tech. The Hokies won the ACC against a ranked Boston College team. One of their losses was a thumping by LSU, but they are playing well when they need to at the end of the season.

Regardless of who should have a shot, the decision has already been made, to the delight of some fans and disgust of others, such as myself. It's mentioned every year at this time, but why not a playoff? There are pros and cons for it, but this year would be a prime example of how it would be better than the current system.

There are no two teams that are the best in the country at this moment. Parody has made college football into a wacky season, almost comparable to the NCAA men's basketball tournament in March.

Since I have no power in this matter and my opinion doesn't mean anything, I have proposed an eight-team BCS playoff. Here is how it might work:

1. Six of the teams are the conference champions from the six major conferences: ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, SEC and Pac-10. Each conference would be required to host a conference title game to decide the winner, which would mean changes for half of the conferences.

2. The other two teams would be at-large teams. They would be chosen based on the top two teams according to the BCS. They could be teams from small conferences, such as Hawaii, or teams that failed to win their conference title.

3. The playoff would be four weeks long with two weeks between the semifinal and final rounds. The pairings would be randomly chosen, similar to a lottery drawing.

4. The four BCS bowl game locations would host the playoff games, with the stadiums rotating hosting rounds as it's presently done with the title game.

Well there is my idea, like it or not. I know there will still be complaining about the two at-large teams. However, there will always be complaints when teams are chosen or left out of a tournament or bowl games. That will never cease to exist.

I am tired of listening to analysts try to determine the best team in the country. It's time to settle it on the field. Move out BCS. Move in playoff system.

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