As far as actually watching college football on Saturday’s in the fall, the new system is an improvement. Slowly, but surely, we will get there. For starters, it’s one step closer to an actual playoff. At this point it’s only an incremental change. However, this opens the door to a 8-team, 16-team or 32-team playoff going forward.
One of the positive outcomes of the BCS system was how much every regular season game mattered. The difference between 0 losses, 1 loss, and 2 losses was massive. That will really still be the case under the new 4-team playoff format. In fact, the regular season will still matter just as much. Or more.
How did we get here? What was the tipping point?
The all-SEC BCS title game this year (which was a horseshit game) helped move the process along. That said, most people thought we’d get to this point eventually regardless of that. It was just going to take some time. Just like any cash cow business, the NCAA and BCS powers saw no reason to change. Why screw with a good thing?
I mean, these guys are like rum-runners in the 1920′s. What they are doing is sketchy fucking business. BUT it’s so damn lucrative that it’s hard to argue with the business model.
The United State’s policy of prohibition allowed these guys to build an intricate system to peddle their product. Similarly, the US’s policy of allowing these bowls to operate with ridiculous tax breaks creates quite a cushy environment for the bowl executives and their staff. The back room deals that bowl directors make might as well be negotiated in a 1920s-style speakeasy. As documented in Death to the BCS, in 2007 nearly two dozen bowl directors earned more than $300,000 a year.
Now the NCAA and the bowls will still make a killing under the new system. In fact, the big-time bowls will take in even more money as they will be used to stage semi-final games. Those games will mean more than ever, and thus should draw increased fan interest.
Unfortunately, for the majority of the FBS teams, this playoff doesn’t change much. The MAC teams, or the Boise State’s of the world, will essentially still have to go undefeated to make the playoff cut.
That right there is what college football continues to lack. The ability for a Cinderella to make a run at a title is one of the fantastic aspects of the NCAA hoops tourney, and many of the other NCAA championships. Underdog stories are a major part of the early non-conference slate of games. In the current system, as well as the future system, that upset storyline dies come playoff time. When one BCS conference team beats another BCS conference team in January it’s hard to picture either as a true underdog.
We will take what we can get at this point, though.