Now that Missouri and West Virginia, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in college football this week, have both fallen today, there is still no reason to believe that the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) will be changed. During a conference call with reporters earlier this week Mike Slive, the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference and the coordinator of the BCS system, told reporters that a college football playoff is unlikely in the foreseeable future. Slive said that he was open to discussions about the BCS going to a plus-one format, which would match the top two teams in the country after the four major bowls are played but did not think and eight team playoff system was in the offing.
Currently, there are five BCS bowl games and the matchups for these games are set following the regular season, with the top two teams playing in the BCS championship game. With Hawaii as the only unbeaten team left in major college football, the national title game is assured of having no undefeated team for just the second time in BCS history. It happened after the 2003 season, when Oklahoma and LSU played in the Sugar Bowl for the BCS national title and USC won the Associated Press national title by beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl. This was not the first time we had two teams crowned as the “best” at the end of the season, a quirk I actually like.
With losses by both Missouri and West Virginia in big games this evening it is now likely that a two loss team (Georgia) will play Ohio State for the title unless someone slips by Georgia into the number two spot in the final rankings. Though Ohio State did win the Big Ten Conference Georgia did not even make the championship game in its own conference, the SEC. For those who think this is unfair I remind you that in the NCAA basketball tournament teams that win conference championships often have to beat teams they’ve already beaten (maybe more than once) and teams with at-large bids can win the whole tournament. (Anyone remember Villanova beating Georgetown in one of the most amazing final game upsets ever?)
Slive says that three concepts drive his thinking about post-season college football games at this level. "One,” he said, “is to protect the regular season. It might be trite to say there’s a playoff every weekend, but there is. Secondly, we value the bowl system. It gives a lot of student athletes an opportunity to compete for additional championships. And thirdly, there’s an academic component. I know there are cynics about that, but there’s an academic component, and we are going to keep football as a one-semester sport."
A lot of intelligent and serious fans will challenge all three of Mike Slive’s arguments but I tend to agree with the first two of them, if not all three. I still like the fact that the college game is not linked to a long post-season of championship game after championship game with all the hype and television coverage. In the end being certain of who really is No. 1 makes for great conversation and no one is hurt in any way by the process the sport follows. Fan interest continues to grow and even the games played today had huge implications so we have gone right down to the last games to know who gets to compete for the No. 1 spot. Will No. 1 this year be the best team at the end of the season? Maybe not. Maybe USC is No. 1 but they lost to Stanford and Oregon. Stanford is a team that was a doormat this year, even losing to lowly Notre Dame. Had USC only lost to Oregon on the road I have no doubt that they would be playing Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl in the final game but their loss to Stanford killed their chances. That is why every game still matters at this level and why Mike Slive just may be right.