Sports

Finally, it’s time to crown a champion the right way

Thursday, January 9, 2014

For college football fans, Monday’s BCS championship game between Florida State and Auburn couldn’t have played out any better.

The game ended with five consecutive scoring drives, with the final three resulting in a lead change. Forget that there was a championship on the line, when does that ever happen in any game?

For supporters of the BCS, FSU’s 34-31 victory was one more opportunity to scream about how the outgoing system really does work.

As someone who is in favor of a playoff system, let me say how thankful I am that the four-team postseason that will begin next year is essentially set in stone.

It would be a shameful thing to reverse course now, just because the final BCS title game – and the other four BCS bowls – were all exciting games. Fortunately, the system’s supporters are few.

Yes, as hard it to believe as it is, there are BCS supporters out there. In fact, one national media member went so far as to predict that once the BCS is gone, we’re all going to miss it.

I highly doubt that. For every FSU-Auburn, or USC-Texas, there were too many games like Oklahoma-FSU (Sooners, 13-2 in 2001), Florida-Ohio State (Gators, 41-14 in 2007) and Alabama-Notre Dame (Tide, 42-14 in 2013).

Playoffs have come to major college football and they will be here to say. It’s not a question of if the field will expand beyond four teams, but when. It won’t be long, once the NCAA realizes how lucrative this tournament is going to be.

How it hasn’t happened already is astonishing.

For quite some time, the biggest motivator in college football has been money. That was the main reason for the recent conference upheaval, and that’s why 70 of the 125 FBS programs participated in a bowl game this season.

But despite all the bowl games, the one NCAA event that draws the most national interest is the men’s basketball tournament. While college basketball is a big draw, it’s dwarfed by college football, and it’s not hard to imagine that interest – and inclusion – into the new tournament will grow exponentially.

It’s four teams now, but soon it will be eight, and then 12 or 16, and maybe even 24, which is the number of teams that made this year’s FCS tournament.

And imagine if winners of this season’s BCS bowls were taking the field again this weekend to play another round of the playoffs. Can you really tell me no one would watch to see if UCF could knock off another big-time program?

The only argument the anti-playoff bunch has at this point is subjecting “student-athletes” to another potential three or four weeks out of the classroom. But given the number of athletes who fail to graduate, and the fact that the men’s and women’s basketball teams do this already, that argument no longer holds up.

Let’s say it again because it’s wonderful news: major college football finally has a playoff system.

A champion will finally be crowned on the field, and not by pollsters and computers.

Now, if only we can figure out a way to get the players paid without breaking the rules.

Joe Marchilena can be reached at 594-6478 or jmarchilena@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Marchilena on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeM).

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