College Football - Playoffs vs. BCS - Pros and Cons
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Last updated on: 9/14/2012 10:15:51 AM PST

Should College Football Replace the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) with a Playoff System?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

ESPN stated the following in a poll titled "College Football Playoffs," available in the Poll Center section of ESPN.com (accessed Sep. 13, 2012):
"The future of college football has been confirmed. A four-team playoff will happen by the 2014 season...

Is a four-team playoff the right move for college football?
77% Yes
23% No
(Total votes: 112,252)...

What do you think of having a committee select the teams in a four-team college football playoff?
51% Good idea
49% Bad idea
(Total votes: 115,123)...

How sure are you that a four-team college football playoff will be better for college football overall than the BCS system?
55% Totally sure
27% Pretty sure
18% Not sure it will be better
(Total votes: 172,424)"


Sep. 13, 2012 - ESPN 

Should College Football Replace the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) with a Playoff System?

PRO (yes) CON (no)
Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN columnist, stated the following in his June 26, 2012 article titled "Presidents Get Playoff Plan Right," published on ESPN.com:
"This is a momentous day in the history of college football. And thanks to Tuesday's final ratifying vote by the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, a manageable, logical and lonnnnnnnng overdue playoff system makes the traveling squad in 2014...

The BCS Championship is about to be euthanized -- may it soon rest in peace. Gone are the ridiculous polls, the computer standings and the automatic qualifier status extended to favored conferences...

Seriously, what's there not to like? The bowl system lives. The regular season isn't compromised. Tradition survives...

There is no perfect playoff system. There will be seasons when the difference between the Nos. 4- and 5-ranked teams is the width of a chinstrap. That's honest controversy.

But at least the way we determine those differences will make more sense. Plus, every one of those 11 conference commissioners, Notre Dame and the oversight committee members signed off on this deal for the next 12 years."


June 26, 2012 - Gene Wojciechowski 

Joe Barton, MSc, US Representative (R-TX), made the following statement on Dec. 9, 2009 as he introduced the College Football Playoff Act of 2009 to the US House of Representatives Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee:
"In all of sports, at least in the United States, at every level, whether it's professional or amateur, there is some sort of a merit-based, competition-based, winner-take-all playoff or meet except in the Football Bowl Subdivision...

[A]s the Football Bowl Subdivision is currently constituted, there are 120 schools that play. In the 11 years of the existence of the BCS, how many of those schools have played in the so-called championship game, Mr. Chairman? Eleven...

We have a system that is designed as an economic cartel, Mr. Chairman. It does an outstanding job of that. Eighty to 90 percent of the revenue generated by the bowls in college football goes to the BCS schools...

I might also point out that all the revenue generated is tax-exempt under the nonprofit rule of the IRS for the colleges. We have a multi-billion-dollar operation that is not taxed, not subject to the antitrust laws and doesn't really come close to having... a fair and equitable system to determine the national championship."


Dec. 9, 2009 - Joe Barton, MSc 

The Playoff PAC, a political committee formed to fight for the establishment of a playoff system in college football, stated the following in its Sep. 23, 2009 article titled "Rebutting the BCS--Academics Schmacademics," posted on playoffpac.com:
"BCS officials show a decided lack of respect for the NCAA's academic mission when they disingenuously trot it out as an excuse for obstructing college football reform...

Three facts make this clear. First, a playoff would require only a small number of teams to play only a few additional games. For example, in an 8-team playoff, 2 teams would play 1 additional game and 2 more teams would play 2 additional games. The other 116 Football Bowl Subdivision teams would play the same number of games. Second, nearly all playoff games could easily be scheduled between semesters to minimize athletes' absences from the classroom. Third, to the extent athletes missed limited class time due to a playoff, absences would occur during the semester's initial days and could easily be made-up in subsequent weeks."


Sep. 23, 2009 - Playoff PAC 

Tommy Tuberville, Head Coach of the Auburn University football team at the time of the quote, stated the following as quoted by ESPN in an Oct. 5, 2006 article titled "Auburn Coach Tuberville Calls for Playoff System," posted on ESPN.com:
"I've about had it with this playoff deal. We all understand in our conference [SEC] how tough it is. In our conference, that's about the only chance we'd have to make it. There is no reason on this earth why we can't have the best four and then play one more...

The problem we have is you have 120 universities that are I-A and probably 25 would say they have a legitimate chance each year. And you have [university] presidents that for some reason look at it more as for the money than having a national championship on the field. They keep coming up with lame excuses about academics. Football players miss fewer classes than anybody...

They keep coming up with excuses, yet we're playing [the national championship game] Jan. 8. It's hypocritical."


Oct. 5, 2006 - Tommy Tuberville 

Barack Obama, JD, 44th President of the United States, stated the following during an interview on the Nov. 16, 2008 television program 60 Minutes, aired on CBS:
"Any sensible person would say that if you've got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season and many of them have one loss or two losses - there's no clear, decisive winner - that we should be creating a playoff system... It would add three extra weeks to the season. You could trim back on the regular season. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this... I think it's the right thing to do."

Nov. 16, 2008 - Barack Obama, JD 

Pete Carroll, Head Coach of the University of California (USC) football team from 2001 to 2009, stated the following in a Nov. 5, 2008 meeting with reporters reported by the Associated Press and published on ESPN.com:

"I think it [the BCS] stinks. I don't think it's the way it should be...

I don't understand how the thing works, I don't really know... What is the criteria of the process? Is it to pick the team that has the best season, that has the season that you like the most and feel best about voting for? Or is it the best team at the end of the year, the team that would win a playoff system if you did have it?

I don't know how the computer thing works... I don't know how the computer knows how good another team is. I don't understand that...

We should end our season with a championship game and a big party afterward... You're still going to have some upset teams. But I think in taking eight teams, you're most likely not going to leave a team out of there that would win the whole thing."


Nov. 5, 2008 - Pete Carroll 

Keith Kropp, a sports writer for the Ventura County Star, stated the following in his Dec. 2, 2007 article titled "Should College Football Have a Playoff System? Pro: There Are Plans That Could Work for Everyone," published in the Ventura County Star:

"Three extra games. That's all it would take for college football to solve its biggest dilemma.

The failure of college football to establish a playoff system to determine its national champion is, quite frankly, bordering on the ridiculous. Every other NCAA sport uses some type of tournament or playoff to determine the best team that season.

The NCAA thought it solved this problem a with the creation of the Bowl Championship Series in 1998. However, the last few years have shown the BCS to be highly flawed.

A lot of innovative experts have provided the NCAA with viable methods as to how a playoff system would work. Incredibly, the powers that be have yet to act on these good ideas. It's hurting the sport."


Dec. 2, 2007 - Keith Kropp 

Chris Suellentrop, MA, a Story Editor for the New York Times Magazine, wrote the following in his Oct. 24, 2000 article titled "A College Football Playoff That Works," published by Slate:

"Everybody hates college football's Bowl Championship Series. The BCS rankings let the media, the coaches, and eight computers determine which two teams play for the national championship...

The obvious solution is a playoff. Players want one. Fans want one. The media want one. Even many risk-averse coaches want one...

Allowing four teams to advance beyond the bowl games would mean one extra week of play for two teams and two extra weeks for the top two teams in the country. The college-basketball tournament means an extra week for 64 teams, two extra weeks for 16 teams, and three extra weeks for four teams. No one complains about that."


Oct. 24, 2000 - Chris Suellentrop, MA 

John Feinstein, sports columnist for the Washington Post, stated the following in his Nov. 10, 2008 article titled "Change We Still Need: A College Football Playoff," published in the Washington Post:

"There is no sport on earth other than division I-A college football (or whatever silly name the NCAA slaps on it) in which a team can go unbeaten and not get to keep playing or compete for a championship.

That's none. Zero. Crossword puzzle players get to compete until they lose, for crying out loud. But not D-1 college football players...

The college presidents deserve to be hammered for this... What they fail to understand is that the revenue would increase so much that even if they had to dole more of the money out to Conference USA, the WAC and the Mountain West, everyone would still be wealthier."


Nov. 10, 2008 - John Feinstein 

Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the BCS and former Director of NCAA basketball's "March Madness" tournament, stated the following in a Dec. 31, 2009 editorial published in US News and World Report:

"First, rather than restricting marketwide output as cartels do, the BCS expands output by creating an annual national championship game that would not otherwise exist. Before the formation of the BCS, the Associated Press's No. 1 and No. 2 teams met in bowl games only eight times in 56 seasons. In contrast, since the conferences created the BCS 12 years ago, the top two teams have played every year if you use the BCS measurements and nine times if you go by the AP poll. The BCS is the best format ever devised to match up the nation's top two teams in a bowl game...

But the bigger problem with Barton's argument is that it does not anticipate the pressure that will mount if a playoff system is implemented... Wherever a line is drawn, the teams on the outside looking in will inevitably start clamoring to enlarge the playoffs. That's exactly what has happened with the NCAA men's basketball tournament, which has grown from eight teams to 65 teams and now is under pressure to expand to 96. Barton's playoff idea turns out to be more of a problem than a solution."


Dec. 31, 2009 - Bill Hancock 

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) stated the following on the homepage of a website it created called "Playoff Problem.com" (accessed Feb. 23, 2010):

"College football is more successful and more popular, more thrilling and more enjoyable than ever. Attendance, TV viewership, fan interest and revenues are at record highs. Any playoff scheme would jeopardize this great success, while threatening the wonderful and unique nature of the bowls...

A bracket-style playoff wouldn't end the debate, it would only fuel it. Advocates of a hypothetical playoff can't agree on how to resolve key playoff questions: who, what, where and when...

In every sport, brackets began with a few teams. Then schools felt slighted, and so the brackets grew to accommodate more teams. And grew and grew and grew. It is known as 'bracket creep.' The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship started with eight teams. It's now 65, and some college officials want to expand beyond that... Think about what bracket creep would do to college football: it would greatly diminish the importance of the regular season, and would forever change the bowl system."


Feb. 23, 2010 - Bowl Championship Series (BCS) 

Bob Stoops, Head Coach of the University of Oklahoma football team, stated the following in a Jan. 2, 2005 article titled "Better Think Again, BCS," written by Chris Dufresne and published in the Los Angeles Times:

"In basketball there is far less interest in the regular season than there is in the tournament. Everyone gets March Madness for the tournament. You don't want everyone to get January madness for football and forget about everything else that's happening in the regular season.

I think basically we are in a playoff the last half of the year in the regular season.... People from coast to coast are watching each other because if anyone slips, you're going to be out... "


Jan. 2, 2005 - Bob Stoops 

Michael C. Davis, PhD, Associate Professor of Economics at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and Tim Kane, PhD, Senior Fellow in Research and Policy at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, stated the following in their Nov. 12, 2009 article titled "Would a College Football Playoff Be Fair?," posted on RealClearSports.com:
"College football decides its champion in a unique way that has become somewhat controversial because every other major sport in America uses a playoff. Over time, the sizes of those playoff systems have expanded...

As you increase the number of teams in the playoffs, you increase the likelihood that the best team will not win, since they will face more chances to be upset by an inferior team... Realistically, it is unlikely that the bracket would remain small... Look at the bloated NCAA basketball playoffs... Over the decades, they all suffered playoff creep so severe that the regular season is now little more than a pre-season...

The consequence is that regular season records will not matter... In other words, every game in the regular season will be not only less important than it is now, but unimportant. There is no question that a playoff would reduce the importance of the regular season."


Nov. 12, 2009 - Michael C. Davis, PhD 
Tim Kane, PhD 

Tom Hansen, former Commissioner of the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10), stated the following in a July 1, 2009 interview with sportswriter Ted Miller, posted on ESPN.com:
"Members of the Football Bowl Subdivision, by a wide majority, prefer a bowl system where 6,800 young people get to have a post-season experience... People talk about a one-game playoff or a four-team playoff -- it can't happen... You couldn't possibly travel teams week by week to a neutral site -- the NFL doesn't even do that...

So there are so many negatives to a playoff, to say nothing of probably the most important one which is the presidents do not want football being played into the second semester. It's not just missing class. It's the impact it has on the academic program of the institution."


July 1, 2009 - Tom Hansen 

Glenn Dickey, sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, stated the following in his Dec. 29, 2009 article titled "College Football Bowl System Works Just Fine," published in the San Francisco Examiner:
"College football is much different than the NFL, which needs to know the best team each year. The playoff system generally works well for the NFL because it's easier to judge teams with an interlocking schedule...

There's simply no way you could structure college football the same way because there's an enormous disparity between the best and worst. Because there are only a handful of intersectional games between top teams from different conferences, it's impossible to evaluate the teams as accurately. So, there would be built-in errors in any playoff structure...

In the NFL, football is a business. Additional games simply mean more money. It's not a business for college players... Making them play additional games only means more chance of injury in a violent game.

The current system is working fine. Forget the playoff."


Dec. 29, 2009 - Glenn Dickey 

Charles P. Pierce, sportswriter and journalist, stated the following in his Jan. 8, 2010 article titled "The Real Problem with the BCS," published in Esquire magazine:
"There wasn't much to the [2010 National Championship] game, actually. Coming in, it featured... Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, who... lasted five whole plays, at which point first-year lineman Marcell Dareus lined up McCoy and shattered the quarterback's right shoulder.

The championship game presented a number of very good arguments in favor of the bowl system and against the idea of a playoff 'tournament,' most of which center on the fact that playing only one postseason game is immeasurably better than playing two or three of them...

Beyond that, let us take as a given that, the fewer football games a football player plays... In college, why should Colt McCoy get two or three additional chances to get his shoulder mashed, thereby costing himself a couple of million dollars whenever he's drafted? Tell me again how it's really for The Kids.

Playoff football is cautious football... Because, under the present system, every postseason game except for the last one is contested only for bragging rights, and because winning is more fun than losing, coaches tend to play wide-open, relaxed football."


Jan. 8, 2010 - Charles P. Pierce 

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