College Football

BCS Chief To Congress: Playoff Would Kill Off Bowls—Kill Now!

MIAMI - JANUARY 08:  Brandon Spikes #51 of the Florida Gators holds up the winning trophy after the FedEx BCS National Championship Game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)
Ed CohenCorrespondent IMay 1, 2009

Congress is debating legislation that would mandate a playoff system to determine the national champion of big-time college football.

Our national legislature surely has more important issues to tackle. But I know I speak for all brain-possessing college football fans when I say...Hooray! Do it! Do it now!

As the Associated Press reported today, ACC Commissioner John Swofford, who's also the coordinator of the Bowl Championship Series, said switching to a playoff is a terrible idea.

He said it would endanger the old bowl system. The Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the  Sugar Bowl—they'd all wither without sponsorships and TV revenue, which would instantly relocate to the playoff games.

And the bad new is?

There is no bad news.

For almost their entire existence bowl games have been nothing more than postseason exhibitions. Only with the creation of the BCS did one of them begin to matter—the national championship game. The trouble is, most years it's not clear which two teams belong in the championship game.

No team from outside the traditional power conferences has ever been invited to the title game, and it's unlikely that one ever would be.

A college football playoff is the most obviously needed innovation in sports, and it has been for decades.

That's not just because a playoff would generate far more interest and far more money than the dozens of existing meaningless bowl games ever have.

A playoff would also be far more fair.

In case you didn't know, all the lower divisions in college football already decide their champion through a playoff. Extend this meritocracy to Division I and finally an undefeated Boise State or Utah has a shot at the national championship.

The only problem with the playoff system as proposed is it's too small: eight teams. Sixteen teams is the right number.

Here's why:

Many would argue that an undefeated Utah or a one-loss USC team that ended the year rated ninth deserved a spot in the playoff. The same would not be said of No. 17 in the polls.

Remember, the only difference between an eight-team playoff and a 16-team playoff is one weekend of games.

To those who would plead for the lives of the bowls, save your breath. The bowls don't even have to disappear. They could be converted into playoff games.

So say goodbye to the Insight.com Bowl that only die-hard fans of the participating teams watch.

Say hello to a first-round, win-or-go-home playoff game that is must-see-TV for every college football fan.

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