The NCAA Presidents met Tuesday and approved a new 4-Team Playoff System starting in the year 2014.
The details that we know of is that somewhere around a 15-person committee will be in place to decide the 4 teams that should go into the playoffs. The committee will look at 4 main deciding factors and possibly a few more including win-loss records, strength of schedule (SOS), head-to-head results, and whatever a team is the champion of their conference.
The semifinal games will be rotated among six bowl sites and will be played on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day (to prevent playing on a Sunday). The Championship Game will be played on the first Monday in January ("Championship Monday") at least six days after the semifinal games. The first semifinal game will be played December 31, 2014 while the Championship Game will be played January 12, 2015. The locations of these games are still to be determined with the Championship Game being played at the highest bidding city on a rotating basis. The contract will last until after the 2025 season.
Now with the details we know are out of the way, time to actually give my opinion on this.
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For years, basically since Auburn got ignored from the BCS Championship Game in favor of USC and Oklahoma in the 2004 season that saw them go 13-0, there has been the argument about the need for a playoff to determine the National Championship for Football.
It came up again in 2006 with Michigan and Florida each having one loss, Florida got the bid and won the Championship, starting a string of 6 straight SEC wins at the BCS National Championship.
Once again it came up in 2007, when LSU got the bid as a 2-loss program, there were 8 2-loss programs that year that finished ranked 2-11 and LSU got the nod over 2-loss teams (unless noted) like Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Georgia, Missouri, USC, Kansas (1-loss), Hawaii (undefeated), West Virginia and Arizona State.
2008 had a slew of 1-loss teams and unbeatens like Utah and Boise State. 2009 saw 5 unbeatens at the end of the Regular Season including Cincinnati at 3, TCU at 4 and Boise State at 6. 2010 saw another 3 go unbeaten that had TCU left out at 3.
2011 saw Alabama manage to get back to the 2nd ranking to reach the Championship Game with LSU - the same team it lost to, tossing Oklahoma State aside despite the fact those two are from the same division of the same conference (SEC West).
It is good that the NCAA Presidents, AD's and such finally reached this point. Too often that there is a team that is deserving of one spot, but two teams and sometimes more are to battle it out for one spot by means of a computer ranking system and not settled out on the field.
The main problem with that is teams trying to get to that No. 2 ranking would have to beat a bad team by a crazy score like 77-0 which goes to the point of classlessness or disrespecting a team and to the point where it will injure star players or key starters that are in there for the sole purpose of trying to beat them as bad as they can which if you are a sport fan of any kind knows that is wrong. Some teams that played a legitimate schedule never made it to the Title Game despite the fact they had gone undefeated - what teams are supposed to do.
When it comes to strength of schedule, those schedules are normally made out well ahead of time with at least 2-3 teams already booked to play each other 4-5 years or more ahead of time while usually getting the last team within 1-2 years of that football season. It is hard to actually play each other while highly ranked the year that happens since both teams could be 10-2 when they make the meeting out but be 4-8 type squads when they actually do meet.
Now, will there be arguments? Yes. You would be crushed if you were that No. 5 or No. 6 team that didn't make it and thought you deserved it better than that No. 4 team. You can also expect on a year like 2007 that a 2-loss team (or 2 or 3 2-loss teams) will make this 4-team playoff. Just remember this: The purpose of this 4-team playoff system was to get those No. 3 and No. 4 teams that had legit gripes a shot at No. 2 to decide who should face the No.1 team out there (in this case, No. 4 would have a shot at No. 1 first). Those No. 5 and No. 6 pre-playoff teams would be written off from playing in the National Championship in the BCS because of a bad loss (or 2) or a loss to a team that had otherwise have gotten 3-4 losses that year (or worse) that put them there in the first place or a late season loss that spoils your chance at playing for the title.
Safe to say, if you have 2 losses during the regular season, good luck on trying to make it, your chances are pretty slim at that point. If you have 2 losses, you need help from others that they fall because it is clear you were not good enough to get to the playoffs anyways. If you do make it, the football gods are just with you.
There will be arguments made for a bigger playoff, like the seasons the NCAA had in 2009 with 5 unbeatens and in 2007 where "The year of the upset" happened (7 No. 2 teams lost in the same year and 3 times the No. 1 and No. 2 team lost on the same week) had more than their fair share of teams that made a legit case to play for the National Title, in 2007 because almost every team lost at least twice (and in sense none of them deserved a real shot), in 2009 because more than 4 teams had not lost.
This is not a perfect system, never will be. There will be some years where this is the picture perfect way to decide it where the teams that got in are clear-cut to the teams that were left out. There will be some years that have far too many (or too little) teams that deserve a shot at it. Where in years that it is too little, it'll be more of an argument of "my 2 losses are not NEAR as bad as your 2 losses" than "this team deserves to be in the playoffs but got left out." At the end of the day, the teams get to decide it on the field, and the National Championship because of that makes it more legitimate.
Although choosing the four teams that deserve their ranking will never be a perfect system, but we are just about to the point where all the teams that actually have a legit shot at playing for the title game is solved. There will be times that No. 4 team will spoil the party.
Now that my imperfect opinion whatever be right or wrong has been made on this, we can talk about how corrupt the system really is because of the $$$ that is involved pre-playoff and eventually post-playoff but I'll let Dan Wetzel cover that with this story here.