Tradition Be Damned - The Evolution of College Football
Media outlets and fans alike are calling for the end of the BCS. Yes it’s true the BCS was created by self serving, sleazy slime balls who only had the mighty dollar in mind. It’s also accurate to say the “major” conferences were in bed with the aforementioned unsavory characters. However, before throwing stones, do not forget what college football was before the institution of the BCS.
Prior to the 1999 season the “National Champions” were crowned by uninspired, biased writers who knew little about the sport. There were several years where multiple champions were named and oftentimes following a loss. In those days two teams could be undefeated but the #2 ranked team would be left out. Two of the greatest games in the history of college football, Texas vs. USC and Ohio State vs. Miami, would not have happened if it wasn’t for the BCS. USC and Miami would have rolled to victories while Ohio State and Texas would have been left wondering. The powers that be decided to hell with history as the BCS took precedence over age old traditions such as the Rose Bowl, which pitted the Pac 10 vs. the Big Ten. Few shouted as teams in the Pac 10 and Big Ten could now compete for the title. Tradition be damned…
No sport has the tradition and pageantry of college football. Rivalries fill the landscape and even when teams have no chance at the coveted BCS trophy they play hard and with passion. Stadiums are filled to capacity every Saturday as chants are cast (echoed?), bands play and rivalries trophies are displayed. Following the regular season, bowl games galore are on display across the nation where loyal fans fill stadiums and television ratings remain very high. Yet, with all that, college football is the only sport where a true national champion doesn’t exist. Even worse, when the regular season ends there is a period of time equivalent to a NHL off season prior to the BCS and championship games being played. How can this be explained? Excuses abound, but none of them are valid. What can be done? It’s time for tradition to be damned in full and the evolution of college football to reach its fullness. I proudly introduce The Dryden Plan:
The Dryden Plan will provide a fair playoff system which will truly crown a National Champion and debunk the myths surrounding a playoff system.
First the myths:
Bowls- BCS revisionists often point out methods to keep the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowls involved. Pundits state a playoff system cannot work due to the complications of the bowls. Who cares about the bowls? A true playoff system is much more important than the ridiculous bowl system.
Power Conferences- The theory that teams in power conferences are clearly better is ridiculous. The BCS hates the little players which is evident in their selection of undefeated Boise State to play undefeated TCU. They didn’t want Boise State and/or TCU to embarrass the big boys and cast their claim to the National Title. Those who think the SEC is unbeatable have very short memories. In 2008 the Alabama Crimson Tide, who had only one loss, faced lowly Utah. The undefeated Utes beat up the Tide, outplaying them from beginning to end. The Utes proved they had as much right to the BCS trophy as Florida did yet they received no recognition. Boise State accomplished the same feat the year prior by upsetting BCS power Oklahoma in an all-time classic. In 2009, Cincinnati, TCU and Boise State deserve to settle it on the field.
Selection Process- The camera shots of BCS bowl officials in suites watching prospective teams is as nauseating as Don King being involved in boxing. Outside of the National Title game the BCS selection process is no better than some farce created by the WWE or false hype created in the world of boxing. The selections are not made on merit, instead on how many fans a team can draw. Sound familiar? Yes very similar to the days of Don King promotions. The process is a joke and especially unfair to those not in the power conferences. The empty suites need to be taken out of the process.
Time/Scholastics- The NCAA often states there isn’t enough time to have a playoff system and it would interfere with scholastics. That is frankly ridiculous. The student athletes are hauled all over the country in all major sports without a second thought given to academics. Regarding time, teams that do not have a conference championship are off for well over a month while those that do still have a month off.
First- scrap the major bowls. The Rose Bowl shouldn’t be referred to as “The Granddaddy of them All”, instead the biggest scam of them all. The Big Ten was fortunate enough to travel across the country and play a road game for decades in what was described as a neutral site? In addition, bowl games are played in warm weather cities or domes which takes away from the true essence of the sport.
The playoffs will include sixteen (13%) out of the 120 teams in the FBS. In comparison, the NCAA Tournament in Men’s Division I basketball includes 65 (19%) of 347 teams in the tournament. The sixteen teams will be selected from the computerized ranking system currently in place with minimal human intervention. What will happen with all the minor bowls? In NCAA basketball the NIT still creates a buzz. The NIT includes 32 teams which gives basketball a whopping 28% of teams participating in the post season. The minor bowls can still exist for teams that do not finish in the top sixteen similar to the NIT.
The College Football Playoffs will begin two weeks after the conference championship games. The conference title games will need to be moved up one week which will be easy to do with the bye weeks etc. The first round will be played on the higher seed's home field. The anticipation for the 1st round will be tremendous and the week off will allow teams to prepare for the match-up. In addition, the importance of the regular season will still exist as teams not only play to qualify for the playoffs but also jockey for position.
The Quarterfinals will be played in a region format on neutral fields; East, Midwest, South and West. The games will be played in large stadiums with the true experience and persona of college football on display. They will be played the week prior to Christmas
The Final Four will be played two weeks after the Quarterfinals. The games can satisfy the suits by being played at two of the major bowl locations. The bye week will build the momentum and anticipation as the sports world will be focused on the Final Four. The National Championship will follow a week later, also at one of the major bowl sites. This format will allow the National Champion to truly be decided on the field and eliminate the dead space following conference play.
Is the fix that simple? You better believe it. The Dryden Plan would bring even more excitement to college football and still bring in a ton of money. Most importantly it would decide a champion on the field. Tradition Be Damned…
By: Scott Dryden