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Friday, January 10, 2014

Bowl Game "Upsets" Point Way For Playoff System

The fictional character John Winger of the movie "Stripes" may have been speaking of the end of the college football season when he made this statement...At least, that is how I approach the end of the college football season.

Yes, I know recruiting is still going strong for Ohio State, and will culminate in another highly-ranked class coming to Columbus under Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer.  Yes, I know that Ohio State fans, such as myself, have the spring game to look forward to on April 12th in Ohio Stadium.

Before concluding the 2013 season entirely, a few random thoughts have crossed my mind about college football in general.  The motivation for this post came from watching the various bowl games, and above all...

1.  The Bowl Season Proved A Playoff System Is Overdue ~ Anyone who knows me, or has read any of my posts, can easily recall how many times I have advocated for a playoff system.  Yes, I know a four-team playoff will begin next season, and I am happy that it is on the horizon.  I will simply argue that four teams will not be enough.

Think about what you and I witnessed this past bowl season.  In the BCS bowl games, perceived underdogs all performed well - Michigan State, from the weak B1G, took down a Stanford team that was considered national championship caliber by the media.  Central Florida, from the weak AAC, defeated a Baylor team that the media contemplated as a possible national championship contender.  Oklahoma of the Big 12 was going to be crushed by SEC juggernaut Alabama in The Sugar Bowl...Whoops.  And in a classic BCS Championship Game, Florida State rallied to defeat Auburn.

My point?  These are games that were voted upon, instead of settled on the field.  Does anyone out there think Michigan State would not want a shot at Florida State?  Why not have a system where a champion is settled on the field?

Yes, I know...a four-team playoff is a step in the right direction.  I will continue to argue that giving every conference champion a shot at the title is the proper step, not only the right one.  Mark my words - the teams left out of the four-team playoff, rated fifth or sixth, will howl loudly next December about this system.  It will pale in comparison to...

2.  The New Playoff System Will Struggle With Ticket Sales To The Bowl Sites ~ Yes, I would be excited if Ohio State was one of the four teams selected to play for the title.  I am not sure how, or if, I would go to The Rose Bowl as one of the playoff sites.

Why?  I made this point back in 2012, when it was decided not to use the campus sites as playoff sites.  It is too expensive for the average fan to attend.

If you think fans were reluctant to go to The Orange Bowl this season, just imagine what you will be reading next season when fans are asked to go to The Rose Bowl or The Sugar Bowl, then turn around to fly to Dallas for the national championship.

3.  Get Ready For "Strength Of Schedule" To Be At The Forefront ~ As well it should be.  I have been hoping Ohio State will beef up its future schedules, believing this will be the focus of the new playoff system...or at least hoping it will be.

Instead of a cupcake, Ohio State will travel to play the Naval Academy in game one of the 2014 season.  Wisconsin will take on LSU in HoustonAlabama takes on West Virginia in The Georgia Dome. 
 
Week two is just as compelling.  Michigan State travels to Oregon.  Ohio State comes home for its opener versus Virginia Tech. 

Instead of week after week of cupcakes, teams have recognized the necessity of scheduling challenging opponents.  Why was Stanford well-regarded this season, even after losing to Utah?  Look at their 2013 schedule.  Why was Ohio State not well-regarded this season, even after going undefeated in the regular season?  Same reason - look at their 2013 schedule.

Will there still be cupcakes?  Absolutely.  Will there be fewer and fewer, as the playoff system evolves?  Absolutely.

The 2013 college football season has come and gone, but 2014 will be here soon.  Not soon enough, but soon.  The new playoff system, ticket sales for the playoff games, and schedule comparisons will be the focus and topics of the new season that kicks off in late August.

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