Editorial: College football needs playoff
Vail CO, Colorado
Congratulations to the Louisiana State University Tigers, champions of big-time college football, we think.
LSU ripped Ohio State, 38-24, Monday in the Bowl Championship Series Championship Game to win college football’s mythical national championship.
And make no mistake, the process of determining a national champ is still very mythical. Much as some like the current set-up, we are well past the time for a playoff system.
The BCS started in 1998 as a way to free schools from their traditional bowl alliances, and match the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the country in a true title game.
One of many problems is that we don’t know if the top-two teams in the national actually make the BCS title game. The BCS uses a combination of polls and a computer ranking system, whose criteria only a nuclear physicist would understand, to determine the two participants.
This system works nicely if there are only two undefeated teams left standing after the regular season among the six conferences assured sports in the BCS ” the Pac 10, Big 12, Big 10, Big East, SEC and the Atlantic Coast Conference, as well as independent Notre Dame.
But only three times (1999, 2002 and 2005) in 10 years has the BCS had the ideal scenario of two undefeated teams in the title game.
In 2004, it was really ugly. Four teams went undefeated going into bowl season ” USC, Oklahoma, Auburn and Utah. Southern Cal ripped Oklahoma for the “official” national title, while Auburn and Utah won their bowl games, but had no shot at the crown.
There’s also a problem when a mid-major (not as prestigious)conference team goes undefeated in the regular season like Utah (2004), Boise State (2006) and Hawaii (2007). These teams aren’t even guaranteed a spot in the BCS bowls, and certainly don’t have a chance at the title game.
This year’s season provided even more chaos with the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the polls being upset seemingly every week. LSU became the first team to make the title game with two losses.
With such parity, several teams like USC, Kansas, Georgia and Missouri all had a legitimate case for being in Monday’s title game.
Purists will argue that the current system works because every regular-season game counts. If you lose, you’re probably done with your national title hopes. Because more than half of the teams that have participated in a BCS title game have had one loss or more, that argument doesn’t hold water.
A playoff with 16 teams is the answer. Champions of the major six conferences get in, Notre Dame (with 10 wins) as well as the winners of the Western Athletic Conference and Mountain West.
That leaves seven or eight at-large berths making sure good teams with one or two losses as well a mid-major schools get a shot.
This way the championship will be decided on the field, as it should be.
” Chris Freud for the Editorial Board