Yesterday we outlined some of the pros of the potential impending four-team playoff model. Today, we will look at the model again and analyze some of the drawbacks it may bring:
Its not a real playoff.An undefeated non-BCS conference team can still be left out if they finish outside of the top 5 (04 Utah, Boise, TCU). It’s very likely that this phenomenon, which people gripe about in the current BCS format, will continue in the bowl games. With strength of schedule always being a consideration, teams like TCU and Boise that dominate their conference but do not necessarily face “tough” teams will most likely find themselves on the outside looking in. With only allowing four teams in the playoff, it will not always being the four “best” teams per se, but the four most popular.
For traditionalists, it lessens the prestige of BCS bowls.Instead of being a season-ending game, it becomes a means to an end (the ultimate championship game). The Rose Bowl in particular is one that people will probably be livid to see go, if it does, because of the extensive history tied to the place. Furthermore, regional rivalries and affiliations could cease to exist if there is no longer a guarantee to face them in them Postseason. That means the Big 10/Pac 12 tie-in will be eliminated.
It puts inescapable pressure on the selection committee. A selection committee would kind of be a terrible way to determine the four playoff teams, though this is not the case in other sports. For example in College Basketball, a selection committee works because there are 34 at-large spots so if they make a mistake, its not a big deal. With just four spots up for grabs in football, they have a great direct influence on who the champ is.
This opens up them up to lobbying efforts from interested parties and can also corrupt the process because of biases due to former conference or school affiliations. Not to mention the selection committee will undoubtedly have relationships with current coaches. There is no way a selection committee will not be biased, which will naturally be a disservice to certain conferences.
Teams will manipulate their schedule to make it to the playoffs. One of the biggest issues with the four-team model is that it weighs how a team finishes its season rather than who it did overall. This makes sense to a certain degree but consider this: teams will undoubtedly load the back end of their schedules and have a weak top half so that they look worthy on paper.
The SEC is one such conference very liable to do this, with no shame whatsoever. While USC is regularly scheduling non-conference games against the likes of Notre Dame and Ohio State, other powerhouses, SEC teams schedule extremely weak ones against teams they know they will beat. Not only that, but the bigger schools like Bama, Florida, and LSU only average about four road games per season. To their credit, they have absolutely managed to beat the system and make themselves look the best, which to a certain degree, they are.
So if you consider they do that with the current BCS format, just think about how they could run willy-nilly with a playoff system. We could very easily see a playoff with 3 or 4 SEC, or any conference for that matter, teams in it if they manipulate the schedule.
And if that could happen, then what’s even the point of winning your conference if a one or two-loss SEC team is considered “better” than an undefeated or conference champion-Big 12 team?
Just something else to think about.
While a playoff system is obviously better than the current model, a four-team system isn’t necessarily any better. More teams need to be considered for it to be fair, something we just might see years down the road. For now though, we will see what the presidents’ committee votes on when they meet next week, and just hope they come up with the best option.
In spite of all it’s drawbacks, the Trojan faithful can envision postseason after postseason where USC is rightfully competing for a spot in the title game.
And really, what could be better than that?