Remember where you were on Jan. 1, 2007, when an undefeated Boise St. team took on the heavily favored Oklahoma Sooners in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl?
Just when it looked like Boise St. was about to fall at the hands of then-Sooner Adrian Peterson, Boise St. unleashed trickery from the recesses of its playbook and came back to win one of the most memorable bowl games in recent history.
Sure, it was an amazing game, but why recall that specific bowl game almost six years later? It’s because that specific game became a major catalyst for a debate that lasted almost five years.
The debate for a playoff in college football.
While Boise St. prompted this debate into full force, they were not the first team to call for a playoff. The undefeated 2003 USC Trojans, who were ranked no. 1 in the Coaches and AP polls, were ultimately left out of the championship game at the hand of the BCS computer, who ranked them number three.
However, the Trojans were not the first to be left out. Between 1998 and 2008, a total of nine undefeated schools were left out of the title game, while that same year a team with a loss participated in the national title game. Even President Obama made a public statement on the CBS television program 60 Minutes, where he publicly supported a college football playoff system over the current bowl subdivision system, which automatically pits the top two ranked teams in the title game.
After long debate and a committee vote, on June 26, 2012, the plan to switch to a playoff system was agreed upon.
The playoff system, which runs from 2014 to 2025 and is set to start after the 2013 NCAA season, is simple: a selection committee of 13 men and women select the top four ranked teams. The four teams are placed in a bracket determined by the selection committee and play the semifinal games, which then leads to the national championship game.
However, the problems may just only be beginning. In the previous system, there were complaints of undefeated teams not making the cut, or others getting slighted by a computer, which overruled the human voted AP and Coaches polls. Now, with the implementation of the new playoff system, those disputes may be gone for good, but it will be only a matter of time before some find problems with the new arrangement.
As with the NCAA men’s tournament, the bracket was expanded and even added play-in games for teams that qualified. What’s to keep that from happening to football as well?
With the small, four-team bracket will come the argument that the playoff is too small, which may prompt the committee to expand the bracket. This would be disastrous for football and the new playoff system.
These scenarios all lead to one simple question: is there any way to perfect NCAA football post-season play? The answer is simply no.
As much as the playoff selection committee hopes the new playoff system gains the favor of fans and coaches alike, flaws will be found. However, whatever this new playoff system may bring, it eliminates the one flaw that’s been haunting college football for a decade: the BCS computer system.
Maybe the playoff system is better than the BCS, maybe it’ll be worse. Only time will tell.
But trust me when I say, it’ll never be perfect.