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College Football's BCS vs. Playoff Debate

It has been long debated whether college football should decide its champion by the BCS or a playoff system. People have taken opposing sides on this issue and both points of view contain positives and negatives.

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The Bowl Championship Series, currently in place, ranks teams based on their standings in the AP and Coach’s poll, computer polls, strength of schedule, number of losses, and quality wins. When the time comes for bowl game selections, teams ranked Number 1 and Number 2 are selected to play each other for the championship. Despite the number of undefeated teams (three this season), only the top two ranked teams get to play in the BCS National Championship.

This year, Auburn and Oregon will play each other, while undefeated TCU has to settle for the Rose Bowl. Boise State, who has only a single loss, will not play in a BCS name bowl game. This dilemma creates a strong reason to have a playoff system, but the money made in bowl games prevents an immediate change. Bowl workers receive large sums of money from their games, making them hesitant to switch to a playoff system. A large sacrifice would have to be made and people aren’t ready to give up their luxuries. Even though it may be a tough change, a move to some sort of playoff system needs to be made.

Having only a playoff system, consisting of eight or 16 teams, has its own problems. A limited number of teams could participate and the season may end up being too long. Teams with more than 2-3 losses will almost never get the chance to play in a postseason game. For example, ACC champion Virginia Tech might not have made it to the postseason after losses to Boise State and James Madison. The money generated from playoff games would be substantially less than the regular bowl games due to the fewer games that will occur. So a hybrid between bowl games and a playoff system needs to be found.

One idea that combines the positives from both systems would be an eight team playoff and bowl games. The playoff bracket would contain the top 8 teams in the BCS standings. This would give smaller conference schools with weaker schedules and great records a better shot to be champions. If it was in place now, TCU would have a chance to prove themselves. Also, with this idea, the remaining bowl eligible teams would be picked to fill bowl games. Teams would be given a chance to play in a postseason game even if it is not the playoffs. The playoff and bowl game proposal would generate enough money to make the switch beneficial.

The BCS bowl system will have to stay in place until college football officials decide a major change needs to be made. But for the time being, new opinions and ideas need to be created and debated. They could make NCAA college football even better.