Because so many teams lost in the final weeks of the season, there’s no clear number 1 team, let alone a dependable number 2. Ohio State seems worthy with its one loss, but the second banana slot can only be described as a toss-up. LSU won its conference championship game to finish with two losses, but so did Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. The Tigers are in, the Hokies and Sooners out, not because of anything that happened on the field, but because of a computer that crunched the numbers and selected LSU.
This is easily solved.
College football needs an eight-team playoff system. Using the current computer rankings, we should have the number 1 seed host the number 8, number 2 host number 7, and so on. These four games would be played on the second weekend in December.
The remaining four teams would get two weeks for exams, so none of the “student athletes” would miss any class time. They could then play the two semifinal games on New Year’s Day in existing Bowl games (Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, whichever two put up the most money). That would make these bowls relevant again. A week later, we’d have an actual championship game.
By producing a true champion, this system would upset some. As University of Miami President Donna Shalala explained a few years back, “I have long been opposed to a playoff, in part, because the kids remember forever the bowl game they played in. I think it’s important for the kids to feel like they’re winners -- whether or not they won a national championship.”
But that’s easily fixed. There’s no need to eliminate any of the current bowl games. Some can serve as playoff games. The rest could continue as they do today, pitting 6-6 teams against each other in meaningless contests on ESPN. We could even allow the teams that lose in the first playoff round to advance to bowls.
A playoff is the only fair way to determine a champion, which is why the NCAA hosts playoffs in all its other sports. Instead of waiting for the BCS to -- inevitably -- fail again, it’s time for the NCAA to wake its fans up by giving them a true D-I football champion.
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