Somehow, THIS happened yesterday. From years of moaning and complaining, to best-seller “Death to the BCS,” and an all-SEC title game — suddenly, everyone in charge came to their senses. All 11 conference commissioners, plus Notre Dame‘s John Swarbrick, got in a room together and actually (for once) listened to the fans of their game. We wanted a playoff. Well, we finally got one… or at least, the beginnings of the one we’d really prefer.
Believe me, I’m not going to be an ingrate about this. I understand that it’s taken well over 100 years for the sport to adopt the same system of determining a champ that literally every other athletic organization in the world has used since day one. But, I can’t deny how much I’m holding out hope for bracket creep, and the eventual growth of the tournament out to at least six or eight teams. I’ve always been of the mindset that asks, “What’s better than one of the things you really like? Two of the things you really like,” so it’s only natural that I (along with most college football fans) would want to watch even more nerve-wracking, late-season football.
Beyond debates of when the tournament will expand — and I’ll endorse a wait-and-see approach there, despite my own desires — there are still questions for the new playoff format, too. A few of the big ones, with some answers added on for good measure:
- Where will the semifinal games be held? The committee that put together this four-team playoff for us will be deciding the top six bowls to rotate semifinals amongst. We already know the Rose, Fiesta, Orange and Sugar are involved, and there’s no convincing me the Cotton Bowl isn’t locked into spot number five already. So that basically leaves one of the Orlando bowls (Capital One/Russell Athletic/Outback) and maybe the Chick-fil-a game (at the Georgia Dome) as the other options. My money’s on Orlando, since Atlanta can get snow every so often in January, and is not the tourist destination the former thrives as.
- And the championship? While the new system will create some huge paydays out of the two semifinal games, the revenue generated from the title game literally has no limits. A lot of that actually comes from the bidding wars that will ensue to host the game itself. Amongst my most viable cities to serve as college football’s biggest stage (at least once a decade): Miami, New Orleans, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Dallas, Glendale, Los Angeles. And that’s really it.
- How will the larger revenue pool be split? Similar to the way it is now, actually. Though, even with the ACC‘s recent postseason futility in mind, I’d still be okay with a flex model that rewards based on performance. Trust me, the ACC will still maintain its status as one of the five “power conferences,” and rake in cash like the others, even with a flex distribution. Which reminds me…
- What about all the conference realignment nonsense? ACC commish John Swofford seems to think that’s all done for now, especially as far as his league’s concerned. While I’d like to believe him, he ultimately has little to do with Notre Dame’s decision to join/not join a conference, and Clemson and Florida State‘s own processes. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t be shocked if things start to cool down a bit — save for some mid-major shuffling — until a few years into the new system. Teams will want to see where they’d have an advantage or disadvantage, so the needless conference-jumping may no longer seem prudent. I stress the word “may.”
So even though we have to wait two years now to reap the benefits of this newly instituted playoff, I think it’s worth it. Instead of complaining about how awful the BCS is, we can now expend our energy imagining how great the playoff will be instead. As a 16-team event. That refuses to grant Notre Dame special privileges. And keeps the ACC intact. In 2035.