College football braces itself for four-team playoff

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 25, 2014 - 7:14 AM

It’s a big step forward, but four-team format won’t silence annual bickering.

hide

Florida State and quarterback Jameis Winston were deserving of the BCS trophy after an unbeaten 2013 season. This season, the BCS gives way to a four-team playoff chosen by committee.

Photo: Associated Press file,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

College football has crowned national champions for more than a century, but the sport’s methodology in determining a champion always has lacked true authenticity.

Championships have been decided by mathematical formulas, by human polls, by computers, by confounding logic.

The history book lists multiple national champions for some years. Louisiana State and Southern California “split” the national title in 2003, even though USC didn’t play in the BCS Championship Game.

A year later, an undefeated Auburn team got left out of the title game because computer rankings determined that USC and Oklahoma were more worthy.

Public pleas for a playoff constantly met resistance from the sport’s old guard, encapsulated by an infamous quote from Ohio State President Gordon Gee in 2007.

“They’ll have to wrench a playoff system from my cold, dead hands,” Gee said.

Thankfully, change didn’t require such a drastic conclusion. Decision-makers finally budged and college football joined the ranks of other sports by adopting a playoff, starting this season.

So long, BCS. Hello, playoffs.

“This may be the most significant change in the history of college football,” said Bill Hancock, executive director of the new College Football Playoff.

A 13-member selection committee will choose four teams to compete in the inaugural playoff. The semifinals will be at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1. The national championship game takes place Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas.

No break from bickering

The overdue arrival of a playoff likely will increase the excitement and popularity (and revenue) of college football’s postseason because fans can understand and embrace a tournament format.

The playoff, however, won’t eliminate the annual controversy surrounding which teams get to play for the national championship.

The BCS caused anger and confusion by relying on computer algorithms. The playoff will lead to resentment from the team that finishes No. 5 in the committee’s rankings.

Consider this hypothetical: Five teams from power conferences finish the regular season with one loss. Good luck appeasing the fan base of the team not included in the playoff.

“Any event that’s worth its salt brings contention with it,” Hancock said. “That’s because it’s an event that people want to participate in. And so those that just barely don’t make it are very disappointed.”

Former Wisconsin coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez weighed the “good and bad” before agreeing to be on the selection committee. He said committee members understand the pressure and magnitude of being asked to choose between teams with similar résumés.

“I’m sure people ranked 5, 6, 7, 8 are going to disagree,” he said. “But we’ll have reasons and criteria that we used to determine which teams were 1 through 4.”

  • GOPHERS opener

    6 p.m. Thursday vs. Eastern Illinois • TCF Bank Stadium • TV: BTN (107.9-FM)

    the new season

    A primer on the national action ahead — and how the new playoff will end. C10

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Miami 5 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Nathan 6
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Cincinnati 13 FINAL
Cleveland 2
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
Chicago WSox 6
Kansas City 3 FINAL
Seattle 0
Seattle 1 FINAL
Milwaukee 15
San Diego 3 FINAL
Arizona 3
NY Mets 8 FINAL
Washington 3
LA Angels 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 4
Colorado 3 FINAL
Texas 6
Oakland 6 FINAL
San Francisco 4
Indiana 107 FINAL
Milwaukee 111
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Carolina 5
New Jersey 2 FINAL(OT)
Washington 3
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 4 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 3
Anaheim 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 2
Nashville 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
NY Rangers 5 FINAL
Ottawa 1
Florida 4 FINAL
Toronto 1
Montreal 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Colorado 4 FINAL
Vancouver 1
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Notre Dame 81
North Carolina 72 FINAL
Wisconsin 79
Evansville 89 FINAL
Louisiana 82
West Virginia 39 FINAL
Kentucky 78
Xavier 60 FINAL
Arizona 68
St Johns 55 FINAL
Villanova 63
NC State 79 FINAL
Temple 80
Missouri 55 FINAL
Michigan 65
Oral Roberts 64 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Duquesne 39 FINAL
West Virginia 60
Ole Miss 70 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 82
Northern Colorado 60 FINAL
UCLA 74
St Marys-CA 77 FINAL
Sacramento St 69

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Major League Soccer be successful in Minnesota?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close