Friday, May 11, 2012

Hot Topics: Should There Be A BCS Playoff?

Photo Credit: Business of College Sports
Each week, our writers break down a "Hot Topic" among the Michigan fans and allow them to express their  opinions. Topics cover everything from rivalry games to team and fan apparel. Writers have their own opinion and readers are welcome to comment or contact them via Twitter with their thoughts.


Tyler Desy - Representing Those For A BCS Playoff

1) Ok I definitely want a playoff. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge Michigan fan and I love the "Rose Bowl Tradition." Big Ten vs Pac 12 is a great thing. But often every year teams that run the table are getting left out of the discussion. For example, 2005 USC vs Oklahoma where the Trojans just throttled the Sooners. On the outside looking in was Auburn who went undefeated. Now, both USC and Oklahoma were undefeated as well, but Auburn didn't deserve to be left out. If you run the table you should have a shot at your claim to be the best team in the country and therefore play for the National title.  Couple years ago Utah, same thing happened. Sure, they made it to the Fiesta Bowl, which they won, but why should they get denied a chance at the title game. Sure, they are in a smaller conference, obviously weaker schedule but they did beat what everyone thought was a better Georgia team.  Whether it's a 4 team, 8 team, 12 team system, I think a playoff is the best bet.  More often than not, teams that deserve to play for the title get left out.  Don't get me wrong the BCS was kind to Michigan this year in giving us a Sugar Bowl bid, but a lot of people questioned their worth to be there and I definitely think Virginia Tech didn't deserve a bid to the Sugar Bowl. With the playoff system, you take the top 4-8 teams (whatever the number) and say, alright you guys deserve a shot at the title, so you will play for it. No voters, no computers to screw it up.  I say leave it to the teams on the field, not voters and computers.

2) March Madness, I love it. The little guy has a shot at doing it big. Teams like Butler wouldn't have a chance in the BCS system. Even if they did run the table, no way they are getting looked at for a BCS bowl.  With the NCAA tournament everyone gets a shot, you get in the tournament field you got a shot at the title. Even with this tournament teams get left out but I believe it gives the teams in the field a fair shot. To me that's what the playoff system would do for college football. It's more fair. Teams like Utah, who run the table, would get their shot to play for a national championship. Sure, there are teams that run the table that would get left out of the 4 team playoff because they simply don't play a strong enough schedule, but if you are ranked in the top 4 of the country, win your games you should get a chance to play for the title. Why should a computer decide your fate if you get to compete to be the best team in the country? Year in and year out there's always a couple teams with 1 loss, and some that go undefeated. Last year, Oklahoma State thought they should've been in the title game against Alabama. They went a way in proving their argument because they whipped on a very good Stanford team. Of course, Alabama did end up being LSU and winning the title. So were the computers wrong? You could say all three of those teams deserved to be in the game, LSU for sure. So with a playoff you wouldn't have had to hear Oklahoma State feel left out because they have a shot at playing in the game. If you win, you're in and that's how it should be.


Thomas Beindit - Representing Those Against A BCS Playoff

1)  What makes college football special?  Some may say the school pride, the amateur players, or the rivalries, but I'd say its history is what makes the sport special and unique from all others.  Does any other American sport, except maybe baseball, have even close to as much tradition as college football?  I'd say no.  The bowl system is part of that history and throwing it out for an unproven hybrid playoff system is not the right decision.  I completely agree that the current bowl and BCS system is not perfect, but it's something that's entrenched in the fabric of the sport.  Things like the "Idaho Potato" bowl may not be that special, but I don't think anybody would debate the heritage and importance of the Rose Bowl.  Everybody wants to compare the BCS to things like NFL playoffs, so let's do that for a second.  Sure, things like the Super Bowl are great, but don't forget about all the boring first round playoff games fans are forced to watch.  Granted, the current playoff proposals only select the top 4 teams, but does anybody really believe it will stay as 4 teams?  When has any sport's playoff not expanded?  Even football and baseball have expanded.  I have no idea how big a college football playoff could eventually get, but to me, there's little doubt that if a playoff is established, it will get bigger.  To me, destroying things as special as the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day for a hybrid system that is pretty likely to change in the future doesn't seem like a great option to me.  The BCS system isn't perfect, but it's preferable to something I'm not sure will even work out well.

2)  What is the major difference between the BCS and a traditional playoff system?  Only the very elite teams compete for the national championship.  Since we've brought in some other playoff systems, let's take a look at one of the NCAA's own, the NCAA Basketball Tournament, more commonly known as March Madness.  Everybody loves March Madness, right?  Well, consider this.  Does the best team become the champion and do the best teams compete for the championship?  Some years, certainly.  However, I'm not so sure you can say the best teams compete on a yearly basis.  Look at the 2011 tourney, UConn won the championship and was considered the best team of that season.  However, no #1 seeds made the tourney.  So of the four teams that did the best over the 5 month season, none were even in the final running for the championship.  Sure, you could say "well, only the end matters".  However, isn't that a questionable method to determine the "best" team?  Right now, in order to make the championship game, a college football team pretty much has to go undefeated, or lose one game at most, during the entire regular season.  That's a pretty challenging requirement for most teams and pretty accurately separates the best teams from the rest of the pack.  Even in the worst case scenario, two of the top four teams will be playing for the national championship.  I'd bet that 9 times out of 10 it's going to be the two best teams in the country, but as I said, worst case scenario that's what fans get to see.  However, in a playoff, I'm not sure you're going to see that every year, especially if it expands, which I'd be willing to bet that it will.  Along with this, it simply moves the debate down the line.  Instead of debating the two best teams, fans will end up debating who the #4, #8, or #16 should be in the playoffs.  If you don't think it will happen, take a look at college basketball.  Anybody hear of a team on the bubble trying to strength their resume?  It will happen in college football if there is a playoff.  I just see no reason a person could say they should be debating the #4, #8, or #16 team in a discussion about the national champions.  It just doesn't make sense.


Final Points

Tyler - So to summarize, give me a playoff system. There are so many ridiculous bowls and matchups that virtually nobody cares for. Every year a team gets left out of the title game because they have the same record as the two teams picked, or even a better record. Same song different year. Give the teams a chance to earn their right to play in the game on the field. More often then not the computers get it wrong in my opinion. I would rather have a team be left out of the title game because they got beat in a playoff, not because the computers gave them a .1 less rating then the #2 team in the country. Pretty ridiculous. I think that a playoff is the best way to go. Sure teams will feel like they are left out of the playoff as well that goes without saying. But I think it gives more teams a chance, and its more of a legitimate shot at playing in the title game. You can't please everyone, but I think you will have more people that are happy, rather than sad or pissed off because they are left out of the game. I think the BCS is a joke and I hope the playoff system happens, because I for one am very interested in seeing it.

Thomas - Do some deserving teams get left out of the BCS title game?  There are always going to be flaws in the system.  However, in a playoff system you run the chance of not only excluding some deserving teams, but also or crowning an undeserving champion.  If you use the 4 team playoff model, there is still going to be a debate about who is deserving.  Look at this year, could you definitely pick the best 4 teams?  I'm not so sure.  LSU, Alabama, and Oklahoma St were obvious picks, but does teams like Oregon, Stanford, or Wisconsin get that last bid?  It's not as clear cut as many assume.  Along with this, if you put a team like Wisconsin in the playoff, you're looking at a team with two regular season losses and a relatively weak schedule (compared to teams like LSU or Alabama).  How can you possibly say they are better than a team like LSU who had 0 regular season losses and wins over Oregon, Alabama, West Virginia, Miss State, Auburn, Arkansas, and Georgia?  The obvious answer is you can't say Wisconsin was more deserving.  If you create a BCS playoff system, you would still leave the hated aspects (rankings, quality debates, and uncertainty) in the system while also allowing undeserving teams a chance at winning the championship.  Even if you set-up requirements to address some of the problems a playoff system may face such as the potential for future expansion, it's not going to be the fix-all that many assume it will be in the future.  In fact, I think it will only expand the problems and controversy surrounding the college football postseason.


All writers are entitled to their own opinion and those may or may not represent the held beliefs of Hoke's Mad Magicians as an entity. Readers are welcome to comment below or contact the writers via Twitter with  their thoughts

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