Postseason playoff – Is it worth the switch?
The 2004 Auburn team was one of the best college football teams I’ve ever seen. It had a defense that was statistically the best in the country (11.2 pts/g), and an offense that could score on just about anyone. That team went 12-0 in the SEC and had an abundance of talent that was unmatched by any other team in the SEC.
Even though that team didn’t get the chance, many still look back today and use that team as a clear example as to why the BCS needs to be abolished. You get those odd years in college football where it’s unclear who the best two teams are, 2004 saw this happen, as well as 2007 and 2011. Alabama got the nod in 2011 because they played LSU close the first time. Perception-wise they were seen as the opponent that were the biggest threat to the Tigers. No complaints from me though, they hit LSU hard and came away as champions, crystal ball in hand.
Nowadays there is no way possible for an undefeated SEC team to get turned down by voters, none at all. Not even T. Boone Pickens is intimidating enough to sway voters not to vote in even a second SEC team, something that has never been done before. The conference is seen as a super-power and has produced six straight Championship caliber teams in the space of 6 years, a conference that puts as many players in the first-round of the NFL draft as you’d expect.
Four years ago the SEC proposed a plus-one system, so it’s not as if the conference is afraid of change. The ones who want change are the other conferences, particularly the Big Ten. They are tired of the domination. They don’t want to continue playing bowl-games in the SEC’s backyard. They want a system that will provide every team a fair shot at the crystal ball. They want the Tennessee’s and the Alabama’s to have to visit the cold and damp Big Ten setting.
Then again, “cold weather” isn’t as much as a factor as the clear home-field advantage is.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Big Ten AD’s are now exploring proposals for a semi-final process. A plus-one system that would be seen as a much more ‘fair’ way to determining a champion. But is it fair?
The hypothetical match-ups would be incredible to think about. 2011 Oklahoma State vs 2011 Alabama? 2004 Auburn vs 2004 Oklahoma? There are tonnes of possibilities, which would at least dumb down the amount of controversy which is largely encountered in todays system. Everyone loves a good moan, and everyone has something to moan about.
A plus-one is an exciting thought…maybe to everyone but SEC fans. Whilst they currently have the pleasure of walking straight into the title game, they have another week to sweat it out and hope that their team doesn’t slip up when it matters most. As an Auburn fan I’m not afraid to admit that if they were to play in a plus-one I’d be nervous as hell. But the system that is in place now, and the new proposed system are designed so a real champion can be named.
Would a plus-one still cause controversy? Of course it would. What happens when an 11-1 Boise State gets left out of the no4 spot for an 11-1 Ohio State? The debates over the third and fourth spots wouldn’t stop, but that’s not what this is about. The Big-Ten doesn’t want a play-off because it would decrease the debates and moaning, they want it so sideline-gazers won’t have a say in which two teams get to play for the crystal ball. They don’t want conference bias, can you blame them?
There are years in which there are two clear cut teams that deserve to play for the title, but there are also years where more than two teams feel like they should have their names thrown around in voters heads.
So in theory, yes, a plus-one might satisfy the Oklahoma State’s and the Boise State’s and give them some closure. No more what-if’s and hypothetical scenarios. But it may also cost those fifth and sixth ranked teams that feel like they were unfairly nudged out for the better looking team.
In the world of college football, visual judgement will never disappear. Politics will always have a say, whether we like it or not.