Early in March, sports fans all over the country fill out brackets for the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. March Madness has become so popular that our own president takes part in the festivities. The 68-team playoff has gained so much popularity that the current college football postseason system should take notice.
The idea for a college football playoff system like that of college basketball has been thrown around in recent years but with no success. Even NCAA President Mark Emmert said he would back a four-team BCS playoff in college football. The debate on whether a playoff bracket is the right direction for college football to head in is saturated with opinion.
On one side, traditionalists believe in the setup of numerous bowl games. They argue that these bowls have been around forever and it is just the way it should be. Furthermore, they claim that the bowl system generates more revenue than any other postseason option. Originally, the major bowl games included the Orange, Sugar, Rose and Cotton Bowl. In the college football season of 2011-2012, there were 30 non-BCS bowls. There has been the creation of the BCS National Championship Game to be played between the two teams at the top of the BCS standings at the end of the year. And due to this revised system, top college football programs at the end of each season are left out of the hunt for a national title.
During this college football season, we even saw teams in the top eight of the country left out of the BCS bowls. These were very good football teams – No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 Boise State and No. 8 Kansas State — and as a result of the eligibility rules to make a BCS bowl, they are left out of the major picture in favor of lesser-ranked teams like No. 10 Wisconsin, No. 11 Virginia Tech, No. 13 Michigan, No. 15 Clemson and No. 23 West Virginia. Granted, these programs deserved a spot in their respective bowls, but who is to say that they are more deserving than the teams ranked ahead of them?
You can’t grant a team the title of national champion of college football when they haven’t beaten the other great teams in the land. As President Obama, the same man that enthusiastically takes part in March Madness, once said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time”. Now is that time, NCAA.
I am writing to propose a playoff system like that of its neighbor, college basketball. Now, I’m not saying a 68-team field is necessary, but an eight-team field should suffice. This way, teams that finish in those top spots can have the chance to prove to the world that they too can be a national champ.
On Nov. 5, 2011, LSU defeated Alabama 9-6 in overtime. At the time, they were ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively. At the season’s end, these two SEC foes were ranked No. 1 and 2 yet again and were set to face each other for the BCS National Championship. There was only one problem: Oklahoma State was ranked third behind Alabama by .0086 of a percent. Each team had one loss: Oklahoma State’s coming on a missed field goal that put them a win shy of an undefeated season, while Alabama lost by an LSU field goal in overtime. That margin separating Oklahoma State and Bama in the polls is too small to declare Alabama the better team.
In my opinion, Oklahoma State should have had the opportunity to play for a national championship. I’m not saying Alabama shouldn’t have had that same opportunity, but each team – along with No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 Boise State and No. 8 Kansas State – deserved a chance to prove they are the best team in college football.
A playoff system in this sport would do that justice like none other. An eight-team playoff would allow America to see matchups that would generate more interest and more viewers than the current system in place. In order to please the naysayers, there could still be sponsors for each playoff game in order to generate revenue.
The postseason in college football needs to change with the times. The public wants to see a team from Boise, Idaho get a chance to face a team from Baton Rouge, La., or a team from Stillwater, Okla. face a team hailing from Tuscaloosa, Ala. Why not let the best teams battle it out to ultimately decide the best team in the country?