Playoff Talks an Insult
With Texas A&M talking about leaving the Big 12 conference, there is now talk of a "Big 4" in NCAA football. Currently it is the "Big 6", with the ACC, Big East, Big 10, SEC, Big 12, and Pac 12 conference winners all earning automatic berths to BCS bowl games. Two conferences will lose automatic berths, and there is the possibility of an 8 team playoff taking the place of the current bowl system.
Sounds like a good idea, right?
The plan being suggested still slights almost half of all FBS teams. The conference championship game winners of the "Big 4" conferences will all receive automatic bids, with the remaining 4 spots going to the next highest ranked teams under the BCS system. The real problem is that there are 11 FBS conferences, and only 4 will be given a fair shot at the National Title.
If the argument is that the other conferences are too weak to compete for a National Title, then why even allow them in the FBS? Why not move those conferences, and all their teams, to the FCS where they have the opportunity to compete?
The NCAA basketball tournament has become so successful that they are expanding the field and allowing more teams in. With football, they are doing the opposite, yet calling it fair. In reality, it is unfair. It is a system designed to keep Boise State and TCU out of the National Championship game. It is a system designed to ensure that even though a MAC team might go 13-0, they will never get their chance to compete against the big schools to find out just how good they really are.
Who would be opposed to have watched the 2003 Miami Redhawks, under the leadership of QB Ben Roethslisberger, take on USC? That Redhawks team lost their first game of the season, and won the rest, going 4-1 against Big 6 schools, and winning their bowl game easily, while finishing ahead of ACC champion Florida State in the final polls.
And who could forget the 2006 Boise State Broncos undefeated season, capped by that dramatic 43-42 overtime win over BCS power Oklahoma? That Broncos team finished higher than the champions of the ACC, Big 12, and Big East. They were also the only undefeated team at the end of the year. Since when does being the only undefeated team not warrant a chance to play for the National Title? Maybe they never were good enough to win it all, but they certainly earned their shot at it.
The system is designed to protect the historically dominant teams, while preventing smaller schools from the underdog glory that captures the entire nation every March.
This system even benefits Notre Dame. Yet, as a Catholic institution, the university should feel an obligation, out of morality, to oppose the 8 team playoff.
The NCAA is creating a "playoff" system under the argument that any playoff is better than no playoff. But that is not true. The suggested system is no better than the current system. It is not better just because it creates a "playoff".
If the NCAA wants to be fair, it only has one option. Create a 16 team playoff that allows every conference champion the chance to compete. Allow for 5 at large bids. Then sit back and let the nation find underdogs to get behind, and watch out as parity becomes the new norm. Too bad the NCAA refuses to do the right thing for all the hard working student athletes in the FBS.