Saturday, November 26, 2005

God vs the BCS

As a little background, I've never been a Notre Dame fan. Notre Dame has always been the Yankees of college football- an organization with deep pockets and a long tradition that fans either love or hate. So I took some joy when the Irish hit the skids during the reigns of Bob Davie and Ty Willingham. But now, thanks to some soft scheduling and good coaching, Notre Dame is relevant again. While my first reaction was to find a leprechaun and kick it, I'm now realzing that perhaps this can actually be good for college football. Maybe, just maybe, the power of Notre Dame can be used to do what no other organization, not even ESPN, has been able to achieve. The introduction of a playoff system into college football.

The Irish already have wheelbarrows of cash coming in from NBC and their $14.5 mil guarantee from the BCS, but the one thing that they're missing is a chance at the national championship. The Irish are not good enough to run the table and get a #1 or #2 ranking; but because they have so much favor with the pollsters, they can lose two games and leapfrog more deserving teams to get a BCS bid (as they have this year). This gives them a shot at a top 5 final ranking if they win their bowl game, but no shot at the national title itself. However, if there was a playoff system of eight teams, then perhaps Notre Dame could get in the title hunt in a way that Touchdown Jesus doesn't like to talk about- with some backdoor action.

Under an 8 team playoff system, the champs of the SEC, Big 12, ACC, Big 10, and Pac 10 would get automatic bids with 3 at large bids. (note: I left out the Big East, although I'm sure in reality they would insist on being included). A selection committee would then seed the teams and the games would be played at various bowl sites, which could rotate in a similar manner to the existing BCS schedule. Notre Dame would be guaranteed one of the at-large bids if they met certain generous criteria. Then with the right pairing and a first round upset, Notre Dame might actually have a shot at winning the title. For argument's sake, let's say the system were in place this year and the teams selected were:
1. USC 2. Texas, 3. Penn St., 4. LSU, 5. Va Tech, 6. Notre Dame, 7. Ohio St. 8. Miami/West Va (if Big East gets an auto-bid)

Notre Dame gets a very favorable matchup with Penn State. Ohio State has a rematch with Texas. Let's say ND beats the Nittany Lions and Ohio State manages to get the victory against Texas. This then pairs Notre Dame against Ohio State in the semifinal, which would be a potentially winnable game. Assuming USC wins their side of the bracket, the national championship game is a rematch between USC and Notre Dame, which would probably be the highest rated college football game of the last decade.

Knowing that the real reason the NCAA doesn't want a playoff system is $$ and not academics (Johns Hopkins' football team could participate in football playoffs but The U can't because of missed class time?), they need to sign off on this. The playoffs would make the NCAA richer, as I'm sure they'd be able to milk the networks for money. More importantly, it would give Notre Dame boosters a chance to lay claim to a title despite having only a moderately successful regular season. And when Notre Dame is happy, God is happy. And isn't that what football is all about? It's either that or trying to beat the hell out of the guy in front of you. Whichever it is, it's reason enough to blow up the BCS and give college football what it so richly deserves- a playoff system that's blessed by the Pope.


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