Starting with the culmination of the 2014 college football season, there will be a four-team playoff to determine the National Champion, effectively putting the Bowl Championship Series in the rear-view and moving forward into a brave new world.
This four-team playoff has been a long-time coming and is a result not only of the complaints of schools beyond the Automatic Qualifying conferences who felt as if they were constantly being left out in the cold when the time came for BCS bids to be handed out, but also because of the obvious financial windfalls which could be generated by a playoff system that more closely mirrors professional sports and can be branded and marketed as such. After all, let’s make no mistake, this playoff has about 10% to do with the “student-athlete” and about 90% to do with that almighty dollar.
Now that Cowboys Stadium has been named as the host of the initial National College Football Playoff Championship Game set to take place in January 2015, the emphasis has shifted to whom the committee will be that will make the fateful decision about college football’s “Final Four” in late 2014. This committee will be tasked with determining which four teams across the college football landscape are most deserving of having a shot at a National Championship, and almost as importantly, who the No. 5 team will be that will be, you guessed it, left out in the cold.
A four-game playoff will certainly created new financial opportunities not previously thought possible not only for the traditional powers in the game, but also the mid-majors and other programs on the fringes who have had a small taste of the good life (i.e. Boise State, Northern Illinois) but have not truly yet claimed its riches. Influential athletic directors, television executives and their marketing cohorts will not be satisfied, accordingly, to make do with a four-game playoff when an eight-game playoff could take its place and push things to an even greater level.
Texas Longhorns Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds was one of the first to speak out about the move to an eight-game playoff earlier today and the benefit it would have for schools and the NCAA alike, and I can promise you, he won’t be the last.
An eight-game playoff seems to be a reasonable ceiling for the playoff system given it would only create, at most, an additional three games on the back-side of the schedule, therefore not interfering with the finals and classes for the “student-athletes” and allowing the NCAA to maintain its facade of academic priority. Even better is that money would be doubled across the board for everyone involved.
For this reason, the four-game playoff will be short-lived and fleeting– mark my words.
After all, why just have a crumb when you can gorge on the whole slice?