Bcs vs. Playoff System in College Football

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  • Topic: BCS National Championship Game, Bowl Championship Series, Bowl game
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  • Published : April 7, 2013
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Nathan Ticich
Professor Khara
English 105
26 April 2012
Playoff System over Turmoil
Why does the NFL use a playoff system to select the teams to play in the Super Bowl? The NFL consists of thirty two teams; whereas, college football (Division 1A) has 119 teams and does not have a playoff system. So how does college football decide who plays in the National Championship out of the 119 teams in its division? It uses the Bowl Championship Series or nationally known as the BCS. A flawed system, which relies on computer rankings, coaches’ polls and media voting to determine the best two teams in the nation. Over the years this system has proved ineffective and unfair to the point that even our president, Barack Obama has called for its demise in favor of a playoff system. A playoff system is the only true and accurate way of declaring the outright champion of College Football. The BCS has been in place for 14 years now after being introduced to college football in 1998. The BCS functions by selecting the two highest BCS ranked teams play in the prestigious national championship game, while the other eight best teams face off in four individual bowl games all over the country. The BCS consists of a three component formula to select the teams that play in the post season games by an equal one third proportion from the Harris interactive poll, USA today coach’s poll, and six computer rankings. The BCS also takes the winners of the six major conferences from the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and Southeastern conferences that receive automatic bids to play in the five bowl games with two at-large bids from non-major conferences. Since the BCS was introduced in 1998, the annual bowl revenue of the post season has climbed from 150 million dollars to nearly 250 million dollars in revenue for college football. According to the Football Bowl Association, “over the past six years Division I-A schools have shared more than $900 million from bowl payouts, and they will divide more than $210 million this year and $2.2 billion over the next decade”(Taylor). The main reason for the success, rather the continuation of the BCS is almost solely due to the astonishing revenues it produces for college football and specifically, the universities. In the end, money wins out and the BCS does a phenomenal job attracting sponsors and making money, but is there fairness in a system such as this?

Figure 1 Total Annual Revenue (BCS vs. Non- BCS) http://www.econosseur.com/2009/07/ncaa-bowl-finance-something-changed-in-1995.html

Playoff based system supporters argue that the BCS is unfair, profit-motivated, and dismisses the appearance of the best teams in the country that get to compete in the national title game every year. The way a playoff system could be put into place is to have a 4, 8, or even 16 team playoff brackets where the best team in the playoff would be crowned the National Champion. Supporters of the BCS combat the idea of a playoff system because they think it would take away the excitement of regular season games, or the structure of a playoff system is unclear, or it would add to many games which would bring injury upon players, and rather the uniqueness of college football would be questioned. On the contrary, a playoff system should be implemented because it would still make regular season games competitive to get a spot in the playoffs and by selecting the eight highest ranked BCS teams, only two additional games would be played. So the debate simply comes down to, should the National Championship be decided by the current Bowl Championship Series (BCS) system or altered to a playoff based system? The post-season playoff system is an effective method that is used by the NCAA for basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey and lacrosse. There is a track record of success and there is never any debate as to who the best college team is in the nation amongst the previous noted sports. The same playoff system...
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