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Playoff: Good or Bad for the ACC?

This is the time of year when the BCS picture is so muddled, the cry for a division I-A playoff system begins anew. As Michael Wilbon pointed out today, even the president-elect is getting in on the act.

Personally, I never had that big a problem with old method, where you had about eight bowl games on New Year's Day, about three of which could affect the top of the rankings and then everyone voted and argued when it was all over. That wasn't definitive by any means, but it didn't pretend to be. The biggest problem with the BCS is its facade of legitimacy. It's not a "system" any more than the old way was; it just picks two teams to play for the championship, rather than picking one and calling it a champion. Is that better? Only marginally.

So virtually everyone would agree that a playoff would be better than the current method. But would it be good for the ACC? Wilbon advocates a playoff that would involve the top eight teams in some rankings, regardless of conference affiliation. That certainly wouldn't include the ACC this season. The current BCS structure always has a place for the ACC champion in a big-money bowl.

By Matthew Rennie  |  November 19, 2008; 11:05 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Comments

I kind of like it as is, without the BCS pomposity (which is revenue driven, for TV). Right now, many teams are winners if they win their bowl games, and we do not have just one winner. I don't like shortening the season just for a playoffs either.

The champion, under the current system, is who is best with the whole season considered. A playoff determines who is best in January, and depends on who is most injury-free and who has the hot hand. And of course luck comes into play no matter what system you use.

But hey, if Barack is for the playoffs, I can let go of the past and support it!

Posted by: EdDC | November 19, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

The current system is 100 times better than the old system. People forget that hal;f the time the BCS has given us undefeated no questions asked #1 vs undefeated no questions asked #2. These games didn't happen before and it is certainly an upgrade in that regard.

I think an eight team playoff wih conference tie ins is certainly the way to go. Furthermore I think the BCS rules protecting Notre Dame need to be scrapped. I do like the BCS rules protecting the mid majors however. Boise State showed they can play with the big boys when they beat Oklahoma and who knows how good an undefeated Boise State or Utah is this year. I would rather see 2 Mid Majors and 6 conference champs fighting for the title than no mid majors and 2 SEC and Big Ten or Big 12 teams which the voters would make sure we saw every year...

Posted by: Lee26 | November 19, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

... and while I'm ranting... The pre-season polls have to go. Without the preseason polls that overrated Clemson you might see an upward tick in where a lot of the ACC teams are and a downward tick in the SEC teams that can't seem to drop out of the top 20 no matter how many bad wins and even worse losses they have.

Posted by: Lee26 | November 19, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Lee26:
We couldn't be more in agreement about preseason polls, Notre Dame, and mid-majors. You're right on the money on all of them.
I have to take some exception, tho, with the notion that "people forget that half the time the BCS has given us undefeated no questions asked #1 vs undefeated no questions asked #2."
Really? In the 10 years since the Big Ten and Pac-10 got on board, I can think of two instances -- 2005, when Texas beat USC, and 2002, when Ohio State beat Miami -- when that happened.
Florida State and Va. Tech were both undefeated after the 1999 season, but I don't know that everyone would have said the Hokies were No. 2 "no questions asked," given the quality of competition in the Big East then.
And USC and Oklahoma were both unbeaten after the 2004 season but I KNOW Auburn was asking A LOT of question about how it could have gone unbeaten through an SEC schedule and still be left out.
So while we would have missed out on two memorable championship games in the past 10 years without the BCS, I don't think it's "100 times better" than the old system in terms of eliminating controversy.

Posted by: MattRennie | November 19, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I did some research this afternoon on Division 1-A, known now as D-1 BCS to the NCAA. There are 11 conferences in the D-1A. Six are in this Beauty Pageant crap (BCS), Five are not. In a playoff system, ALL 11 conference winners get an automatic bid, and there will 9 Wild Cards, enough to satisfy the other "big time" schools who have great seasons but miss winning their league titles (your 1 or 2 loss teams). There is room to do it and it is a FAIR system to determine a legitimate champion. Having debates does not and will never solve anything. ELIMINATE THE BOWLS.

Posted by: ejharrisjr40 | November 19, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Here is an example of why a playoff will not come to be.

Take this years ACC as an example. There are many good teams, but no great teams (applies for the Big East too!) If we had an 8 or 16 team playoff, arguably, the ACC might be left out altogether. If you include each of the conference champions and two at large bids, a team like Florida would be on the outside looking in.

The ACC is guaranteed money from EIGHT bowl games this year. That's about the same for each of the other conferences, so have even more tie-ins. There is TOO MUCH MONEY in the current system to switch at this point.

Who is going to pay to watch the Gator Bowl if it isn't part of the playoff? Nobody, yet it's the second or third highest paying bowl for the ACC. That money, and the money from all the lower tier bowls would evaporate.

Who watches the NIT in basketball? The same scenario would exist with a playoff.

It works in Division II and III because there isn't that much money to be made.

I do agree that we need to do away with pre-season polls. It is virtually impossible to jump into championship contention if you don't start in the top 15.

First poll of ANY TYPE should happen around October 1st, when we've actually seen teams play and we know who has talent to some degree.

Posted by: jcyr4 | November 19, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

If you're gonna have a playoff system, here's how it should be run:
1. All 11 conference champions in 1-A get an automatic bid.
2. There would be 5 at-large bids for teams who didn't win their respective conferences but are respectable enough to play (for instance, Texas and Oklahoma would both qualify regardless of the Big-12 Championship outcome; independent teams like Notre Dame and Navy could qualify if they have an adequate winning percentage)
That gives you a 16-team elimination tournament. While this could make the season a little longer, it doesn't make it ridiculously long. It also solves other issues:
a. Non-BCS teams like Utah, BYU, Ball State and Boise State would have just as much of a chance to prove they deserve their undefeated status.
b. Deserving teams would get a shot despite the rankings (think 12-0 Auburn a few years ago).
c. If a playoff system works in every other sport and division, why can't it work here. No one argues if the winner of a tournament is the real champion because real champs win when it's all on the line.
For those who don't make the 16-team cut, you could still reward them with bowl games. And while I'm thinking about it, start the games earlier, like right after the regular season ends. It's ridiculous to watch teams play for a notional championship when they haven't played in over a month in most cases.
There will never be a perfect system, and there will be some (legit) gripes if their team doesn't make the cut. But it sure beats the sham system we have now.

Posted by: ecglotfelty | November 20, 2008 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Rennie,
I'll give it up your right it isn't half the time. And Auburn certainly has the biggest gripe of all. I don't think you can discount the undefeated VT team though. Syracuse was still good at the time and Miami was on the way up. I still think it's at least 20 times better than the old system. I guess I think 1 matchup like Texas/USC (the greatest most entertaining football championship I have ever seen, and I'm a New York Giants fan!) is worth 4 years of controversy because before the BCS Texas would have stomped out some garbage Big East team and USC woudl have stomped out a garbage Big Ten team and everyone would have wondered "what if?". And Florida on the outside looking in? Come on does ANYBODY really think Alabama is going to beat them? I'm not even convinced Alabama can beat Auburn this weekend. Their offense leaves a lot to be desired and I think the SEC is down, way down this year outside of Florida...

jcyr4,
"Who is going to pay to watch the Gator Bowl if it isn't part of the playoff? Nobody, yet it's the second or third highest paying bowl for the ACC. That money, and the money from all the lower tier bowls would evaporate."
load of crap. Why would anyone watch the Gator Bowl now if this is how Alumni reacts to non championship Bowls? Right now there is ONE bowl for the championship and there are 30 other bowls making money and they add more bowl games every year. If you had a playoff you would increase the interest in some of the other BCS bowls and all the non BCS bowls would be exactly what they are today. I don't see why a MD fan such as myself wouldn't consider going to the Peach Bowl or Gator Bowl just because the Orange Bowl was now a semifinal. That argument doesn't make any sense at all...

Posted by: Lee26 | November 20, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

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