System Changes for College Football
In 2014 the Bowl Championship Series system will be over. In its place will be the same bowl games that every college football fan looks forward to, along with a four-team playoff system to determine the champion. To determine who plays in the championship game there will be two semifinals. These game locations will rotate through six major bowl sites including the current BCS bowls. Half of these major bowl games will be contract bowls. The title means that the bowl will be affiliated with one or two conferences, like the Rose Bowl has tie-ins with the Big Ten and Pac-12. The other three bowls will be access bowls that have no obligations when choosing their participants. The three contract bowls also have more freedom when choosing teams to replace any team that has received a bid to play in a semifinal game. The only way these six games are tied together is conference champions who are tied to a specific bowl game are guaranteed to play in one of these bowls. For example, if the Rose Bowl is a semifinal game, but the Big Ten champion does not qualify, then that team will still play in a major bowl game. Hopefully these small systematic changes lead to a much-improved end to the college football season.
When NCAA conference representatives met to discuss a possible playoff it was vital that the Bowls remained a part of whatever they came up with. These games offer its participants huge payouts and also make the conferences involved wealthy. Not only does the new system involve all the past bowls, but also they have decided to make two additional major bowl games. One of these games, the Champions Bowl will be completely new. This game will feature the victors of both the SEC and the Big 12. Since these two conferences are so successful the payout for this game is expected to rival the championship game. The second game, the Cotton Bowl is already a bowl game, but has lost some of its prestige since it is no longer a tie in game for the Big 12. By adding it to the rotation of semifinal games the bowl will return to prominence in the near future. The current BCS bowls will experience the same success they have seen in the BCS.
One of the biggest flaws of the BCS is the system used to select who plays in the National Championship Game. Too often fans are left wondering what would have happened if another team had a played in the game and why that seemingly more deserving team was not given that chance. A new selection process will hopefully help the situation. The BCS uses a combination of many different polls to determine the quality of teams. While polls and rankings will still exist in the future, they will be more of a reference and will not directly determine who plays in a specific game. Instead, a panel of qualified college football experts will select who will play in the two semifinal games. This panel system is similar to the group used to decide who plays in the sixty-eight team college basketball tournament. This may be the best postseason in all of sports and everyone in college football hopes that this smaller playoff will have similar success.
National Championship Changes
This new system will not change the National Championship Game itself very much, but there will be some minor alterations. Possibly the biggest change is not to the game, but where it is played. Instead of rotating the game between four large bowl game venues, the game will be held in many different stadiums throughout the nation. Cities will be able to bid for the right to host the game similar to how the NFL determines where the Super Bowl is held. The game itself will look similar to past years with two top teams playing one another. The only difference is that the third and fourth best teams in the nation will have a chance to appear in the game. This is possible because of the semifinal games played a week before the championship. Previously, National Championship teams would get a week off, but now the teams must play during the other major bowl games also. Without that week of rest expect more players to be injured heading into the final game. This likely will not reduce the quality of the championship too much, but the playoff system should add extra importance to the game.