Playoffs? PLAYOFFS? Don’t talk about… PLAYOFFS?
The decision has been made in favor of a four-team playoff to decide college football’s national championship, but there are still plenty of questions left to be answered. What bowls will host the semi-final and national title games? Who exactly will be selecting the four teams that get to participate? What will the criteria be? As always, there are more questions than answers.
The general consensus is that the Cotton Bowl will be the big winner here, as Dallas is a prime central location and Cowboys Stadium is one of the largest and newest venues in the country. Jerry Jones has deep pockets and will almost certainly be bidding to host a national championship game in the very near future.
Another bowl that will be in play for movement into a prime-time spot is the Chic-fil-A Bowl. Gary Stoken, Chic-fil-A Bowl president, has already said they would bid to host in the new format. Atlanta and Dallas are perhaps the only two cities in the South that are in a position to take hold of one of these new bowl games, with Nashville maybe making a surprise run sooner or later. With teams like LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas recently reaching title games, it will only be a step in the right direction in the eyes of the fans. Many hoped for a national semifinal to be played on campus, but the dollar signs are just too large elsewhere for the powers that be.
The selection committee will also be an interesting thing to follow, with many heavy hitters in college football already volunteering their services. Former coaches and players alike will be clamoring to be a part of this, as participating in the Harris Interactive Poll isn’t satisfying the thirst for more power for most of them.
The four-team playoff will be more exciting, no doubt, but the ability to finish a college football season without an undefeated team missing out is key. No more leaving Boise State out, Auburn makes it into the playoff in 2004 just like Texas makes it in 2008, TCU finally gets their shot in 2010 and Oklahoma State and Stanford get to round out the playoff last year. The possibilities for teams that have never won a title before just skyrocketed, and it makes for a more inclusive bowl season.
The danger in all this comes with an expansion of the field. Will they stop at four, or will we soon see eight and then 16? That’s a slippery slope, and too many teams will likely kill the excitement that you see week in and week out in the regular season. Today the fans are happy with the new system being implemented, and that’s the first step in keeping the game popular in the ever-changing sports landscape.