Every year the best teams, like the tea sippers of Texas, start off hot and make it to the number one spot. Then, when it looks like nobody, absolutely nobody can beat them, they lose to an unsuspecting team like Texas Tech. (What a win by the way. It couldn’t have happened to a better team.) Those upsets shake up the computer generated Bowl Championship Series like nobody’s business. This leaves piles upon piles of fan-generated complaints (and from coaches, too), all of which center around the belief that under the current bowl system, college football’s number one team is often never found or proven.
Right now, a national championship means finishing the season without a loss. A team that loses one game is often devastated and out of a national championship.
Look at this week’s top 10 BCS standings. At 9-0, Alabama is number one, Texas Tech is number two, Penn State is number three. Following the Nittany Lions are Texas (4), Florida (5), Oklahoma (6), and then in the number eight spot is unbeaten Utah. Let’s just take a look at that ranking lineup.
This week Texas Tech is facing Oklahoma State and then later in the month they must face Oklahoma. If they are indeed as good as they seem to be after last weekend’s surprise win against Texas, they should win both games. If they do, controversy aside, they should play Alabama (if Alabama remains unbeaten) for a national championship. But if they lose, then what?
Texas Tech will join the rankings of one-loss teams, probably somewhere around number nine or 10. Alabama must still face LSU and Auburn. If we know anything about the SEC, we know that any team in the SEC can beat any (number one) team in the SEC at any time.
And then there is Penn State – my favorite to go the national championship because they have the best chance of staying undefeated. Their last three games are against Iowa, Indiana and Michigan State. The Spartans could be a bump in the road for the Lions, but really, I think not. By the end of the season, we will most likely have one – count them one – undefeated team in college football and it will be the Nittany Lions. But they could be screwed by the computer generated rankings by a one-loss team like Texas or Florida. Why? Who knows. It just may happen. It’s computer generated. I hear you. The current system sucks.
So much pressure is put on college teams to remain undefeated as long as they can, but the notion that you can’t go to a championship game with one loss is really unfounded. It’s the teams that remain undefeated that aren’t guaranteed a national championship berth, even if they are the only one.
So what am I getting at here? Do we need a playoff system to find the best team in college football? Absolutely not. This isn’t the NFL. It’s college football, its own creation. A playoff system in place wouldn’t be perfect no matter how it is organized. We would still have every single one of these questions in the back of our minds and the playoff system would take away the greatest two weeks of football a year – the 25 or so bowl games that are played around the country during the holidays.
And bowls, if you want to get high minded here, are great for schools whose football teams are simply mediocre. A struggling CSU team, if they make it into some God-awful bowl, is a win for recruitment. Bowls, no matter how bad they are, make better football teams because it puts them in the national spotlight that, with a playoff system, just wouldn’t be there.
Finally, we must remember the many, many wonderful corporate sponsors that would lose out with a playoff system. The