The Problem With The 4 Team Playoff

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The news is in. College football fans nationwide have been waiting for a playoff since before the BCS era, and they finally have it. Well… kind of. Yesterday it became official that, starting in 2014, four teams will be selected by committee to play in a semi-final bracket to determine which team is the “true” national champion of Division 1 college football. Factors considered by committee for determining these four teams include strength of schedule, wins and losses, head-to-head matchups, and conference championships. Although it is huge news that there have been steps to alleviate the problems that a one vs. two BCS matchup has caused, the idea that this four-team playoff is any semblance of a real solution is actually quite a stretch. I’m not saying the “playoff” isn’t better than letting computers and pollsters determine who will duke it out in the BCS National Championship. It is certainly more effective than the absolute mess that was letting the AP and the Coaches’ Polls determine who was the champion by vote, which ended up with split-championships and a lack of closure on the season. Despite all that, there are still a few reasons why this should not be considered the ultimate “solution.”

Most of the problems stem from the fact that it will only be four teams selected to participate in the playoff. The reason the BCS has taken so much criticism has to do with the odd man out when it comes time to put two teams in a final game. Given the amount of parity during the regular season, the assumption that there is going to be less of an outcry from the fifth team out than the third team is shaky at best. We don’t exactly know how the committee will end up choosing participants and seeds if an undefeated non-AQ team is being weighed against a powerhouse that lost early but climbed the rankings through a tough conference schedule. The same scenario that once happened between 2 and 3/4/5 will now be happening between the fourth ranked team and the few ranked below them.

When Alabama and LSU met for the second time in the national championship game last year, ratings were considerably lower than the previous championship game. Regardless of the fact that most people believed they were the two best teams in the country, no one wanted to see an in-conference rematch. This is important because ratings obviously equal money, and money is a prominent THE motivating factor in the process of figuring out the new playoff structure. The higher-ups were obviously not concerned with appearing monetarily driven when they told the world that the national championship game would go to the highest bidding venue. They clearly want this sporting event to have the potential to be as big as the Super Bowl, and guess what? It does.

Now, this isn’t necessarily bad, and I’m sure Jerry Jones is already signing the check and making the banners for the first game because…let’s be real…that motherfucker would pay to have Arkansas in the final game every year if it was allowed, but this could ultimately hurt the process of selecting the four teams if money is clearly a driving force in the matter. The problem is once again rooted in the size of the bracket. At some point the committee is going to have two teams, one from a conference that already has a team in the mix, thus posing the potential for a rematch, and one from a non-AQ conference that doesn’t travel well compared to a powerhouse. Who do you pick? On one hand you have a team that will travel well but the rematch might not draw as much national attention, on the other you have a team that will provide a more compelling matchup for the ratings but doesn’t have a fan base large enough to generate an amount of money to appease the people who own the venues and are doing the bidding. Granted the venue will have been booked years in advance of the committee’s playoff decision, but will that venue be hesitant to bid again if the committee makes decisions that don’t benefit the venue? Either way, someone’s wallet is taking a hit in a scenario like that.

The real problem here is that four teams are not enough to solve any logistical problem. Whether that problem is criticism of the playoff system and its decision committee or a problem with revenue not reaching its full potential, more teams will eventually have to be added into the bracket in order to placate the lamenting fans and ensure that the people boosting money into the series are happy with their return. Eight teams would definitely be more realistic of an approach considering the recent number of non-AQ teams that have cracked the top ten, and a lot of analysts seem to be happy with a quarter-final bracket.

I, however, fucking hate sports analysts, so I decided to throw in my idea of a perfect playoff scenario. Even if it were eight teams I’m sure a couple lower teams would bitch in order to keep the tradition alive of moaning about not getting into the college football elite club. I don’t think anyone outside of the top 8 should be considered a national champion, let alone the top 10. However, the way rankings work, 7-10 would bicker like children until the end of time making their claim that they deserve to make the final cut. So, I propose that much like the NCAA basketball tournament, two play-in games between seven/nine and eight/ten are implemented to determine who get the last two seeds. This way the entire top ten is allowed to play on the field in order to determine a true national champion. I could go on forever about venue possibilities and combinations, but that would make all of you reading this with your phone on the toilet bitch way too much in the comment section.

The reality of this brand new playoff system is that it isn’t really that much like a playoff at all. It offers no closure, and no real satisfaction for the fans. It’s like the BCS saw us starving for playoff sustenance, determined that we were hungry, and tossed us a fucking chicken wing for all of us to share like a pledge class during hell week. We’re still going to think someone is getting more of a share of that fucking wing than they deserve while the BCS thinks we are going to be elated and grateful that they tossed us a half-inch bone that doesn’t solve any problems. So, until the playoff becomes more encompassing, I wouldn’t be so quick to call the four-team bracket anything close to a solution.

I am a proud University of Florida graduate with a degree in political science. I decided to stray from the lavish career path of a political scientist to join the Grandex team in December of 2013. When I'm not suffering from a panic attack, snacking at the Rowdy Gentleman office, or writing my bio in first person, I enjoy terrible found footage horror movies, brunch, and occasionally producing content for TFM and PGP.

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  1. 5

    Well this will be just like the college world series. The whole SEC will be in it or pretty close to it. Also those saying teams will be worn down and tired, the only teams that play anyone worth a shit week in and week out will be SEC teams so teams from any other conference should not have to worry about being tired bc they don’t play defense. Non SEC teams will not being able to pull that excuse.

    ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
  2. 4

    Here is the problem with making it more than 4 teams. You add more games to the end. Now I have played division 1 AA football and by the end of the season your body is beaten, broken and bruised. The last thing you want is to go into another season long playoff scenario. Because let’s be honest you can’t have the same team play 2 times in a given week. I think if we give the time to this new system it will prove that at most a 6 team playoff scenario is best but I think the 4 will be a dramatic improvement.

    ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
    • 1

      ^But as a D1 AA athlete, wouldn’t you sell your body to get a chance at a national championship? I’m an athlete too and I strongly believe that the whole purpose of pushing yourself and having your body beaten, broken, and bruised is to get to that championship game and lay it all on the line. So either youre a pussy who played for some cockmunching team or you just dont get what being an athlete is all about.

      ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
    • 0

      jmt it would take 16 games to win a national title…the pros play 16 games in a regular season, before the playoffs even happen…so as a title contender in the NFL, you’re looking to win 19 or 20 games. 16 games to win a title versus upwards of 20? Last time I checked, 16 is less wear and tear than 20. You sir are the idiot.

      ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
    • -2

      I would sell myself for a crack at the championship. However the reality of playing more than 1 game a week is impossible. I agree more teams would drag out the play and the season would end around the middle of February. But if you didn’t bust your ass all season to be in the top 4, well then you don’t deserve to have a chance. No Cinderella story for football players.

      ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
    • -2
      Fratastic Fraterday

      Four teams is perfect because it keeps the regular season being still very valuable and doesn’t destroy athlete’s bodies like the IAA does. Second, you can’t have a large playoff like IAA because in IA were talking about 80,000 fans traveling to a stadium every week versus 15-20,000 in IAA and if some stupid mid major gets to host a game, its going to be a mess with their 20000 seat stadium.

      ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
    • -4

      ^It takes at least 14 games to win a high school championship in a lot of states. If you think 16 is too many for college you’re an idiot.

      ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
    • -5

      ^Your logic is flawed. If you’re saying that college athletes should be able to take the same wear and tear as professionals, you’re an idiot. Albeit is another sport, but look at baseball and the bullshit of capping the innings pitched for your pitchers (Joba Chamberlain, Stephen Strasburg).

      Not to mention, once you start adding more teams, you are taking away from what makes college football so special: the importance of a regular season. A 4 team playoff is a huge step in the right direction, and you can’t blame the commissioners for not adding more teams, as you would be looking at all kinds of problems to solve.

      ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
    • -5
      mack fratty

      I’ve been a pretty big supporter of the playoff idea for a while cause they do need to get rid of the bullshit arguing from the schools who think they can beat the guys at the top. They still should get a shot at them though if they show some kinda proof they are legit. I think they need to get rid of the crappy div 2 game at the start of the season and/or the open dates on the schedule and make some kind of “bracket busters” like they do in the basketball season. If your showing up and are winning decisively every day against good/ great teams and just can’t get the credit to break the top tier with the BCS you get a shot at a team in the higher ranks. You lose fuck off / you win you move up

      ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
    • -6

      I don’t know about those playing in 1AA but keep in mind that those playing in 1A want a shot to play on sunday with the big boys…so playing 16 games a year shouldn’t be too much of a stretch….

      ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
  3. 1

    Under your proposed idea, although entertaining, the season would start to drag out like the NBA. You would need to add three to five more weeks (one for the break between regular season and post-season, the weekend of the play-ins, three for the bracket, and one possibly between the semis and final).

    The fact that this movement, driven by years of fan bitching and whining, finally took foot, I highly doubt we’ll be seeing any changes to this system any time soon.

    ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
    • -8

      The great thing about college football is that every game matters. If you fuck up once, your season is done. And that means every single game is interesting. If 10 teams made the playoffs (a play in game is the playoffs when a series is one game, dumbass), no one would care about OK State vs Iowa State. But if only four teams can, every moment is important. Four games is the best way to keep the excitement of the regular season and improve the fairness of the championship.

      ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
  4. 0

    There’s no such thing as a perfect scenario in college football because there are too many teams in the league. That’s just the way it is, deal with it. That said, I think it eventually needs to be an 8 team format. With a selection committee picking the teams, you can have a 3 or 4 seed not make the playoffs while a 5 or 6 seed does. There would be way less controversy with an 8 team playoff and every school that really deserves a shot would be in it and the regular season would still be damn important. Nobody ever complained that the #9 seed was deserving of a championship.

    ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago
  5. 0

    ‎10 teams. 2 wild card spots with 8 teams that have the 2 best teams in the conference. For example LSU and BAMA from the SEC. Texas and OU from the big 12 and so forth. You use your BCS bowls to host the games with the 2 best teams to play for the Champ. (Top 4 teams get a bye).

    ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 4 years ago

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