WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., June 21, 2012 — After years of complaints from fans and months of discussion by the leaders of the major NCAA football conferences, we may finally have a college playoff model. No more disjointed bowl system where teams are left confused about BCS rankings and wondering who really is the best in the nation.
Under the model negotiated by the heads of the SEC, ACC, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12, and the others, college football will have a four-team playoff starting in 2014. And as yet unnamed commission will rank the top four teams, who will meet in existing bowl venues for semifinal games with the winners heading to a national championship. The selection committee will pick the four semifinal teams based on conference championships and strength of their schedules, among other selection criteria.
Fans should thank Larry Scott, the new commissioner of the Pac-12, for accepting the proposal. Previous refusal by the Pac-12 to accept a playoff option had stymied previous discussions.
Under the proposal, the NCAA will still hold its traditional bowls, although they will likely carry far less weight than they previously had. Teams not playing in the championship playoffs will clearly understand they are not in the running for a national championship. However, the tradition and pageantry of many of the bowls – think Rose Bowl – and the loyal fans of teams named to the game will still bring prestige and revenue.
The playoff system favors the major conferences – the ACC, SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, Big East, Big 10 – and threatens to marginalize smaller conferences. However, some argue that those leagues already suffer in the current BCS system and are unlikely to lose anything with the playoff scenario. If the NCAA creates an equitable profit sharing program for the playoff schedule, those leagues could actually increase their post-season revenue with the four-team playoff plan.
The BCS still must approve the plan. The league commissioners will present the plan to the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee on 26 June in Washington, DC. It will also discuss an alternative scenario, where the top two teams will play each other for a national championship title after all the traditional bowl games, but that option is less likely.
The semifinal scenario will finally grant college football a more exciting, and more relevant, post-season.
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