PDT Sports Editor
Wednesday’s announcement from the university presidents that a college football playoff was agreed upon was almost universally accepted as great news.
As a governing body, the NCAA has been slow to change in just about every aspect. It took years of pressure from fans — and probably some threat to the pocketbook — for a playoff to be legitimately considered in April, and eventually implemented in June. Every other college sport participated in a playoff except for the top level of college football. And it had been that way for far, far too long.
As happy as the college sports community is only days after we learned the 2014 season would end with a real, honest to goodness, on-the-field determination of a national champion, the solution in place is only slightly less idiotic than the Bowl Championship Series it is replacing.
As great as it is to see competition determine the championship pairing rather than a computer and some pundits, the gripes about the system have only been pushed down from the No. 3 team in the country to the No. 5, No. 6 and No. 7 teams who will be on the outside looking in. Just like with the NCAA basketball selection committee, there will likely be claims of bias and big conference favoritism.
And speaking of big conference favoritism, the recent game of musical chairs that has been called conference realignment has not done any favors to the likes of what was called non-automatic qualifiers under the BCS model. Even Boise State, who crashed the BCS party when they defeated Oklahoma 43-42 in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and recently joined the Big East, is probably going to have a hard time convincing the new selection committee that they are more deserving than a conference champion out of the Big 12, SEC, PAC 12, or Big 10.
The university presidents and conference commissioners insist the new, four-team playoff is a long-term solution for what has been collection of bowls that have long filled the coffers of the NCAA. Ralph D. Russo, college football writer for the Associated Press, predicts the new television deals will be worth twice as much as the current deal that’s worth around $150 million. And the commissioners and presidents say the new deal will last 12 years in order to avoid further expansion.
Is there any doubt that market value three, four or five years into the deal will have changed enough for some reevaluation of the current system? If the NCAA sees an opportunity to fleece more money from the television contracts by expanding to an eight, 12 or larger playoff format there’s little doubt that it would jump at the chance.
As a fan, it’s a wonderful development to see a corrupt system (see ousted Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker) booted and a seemingly more reliable system installed. But with more money flowing in, the possibility of corruption remains and the ridiculousness of not evenly compensating college football players for the revenue they generate for their universities grows.
Remember when the television contracts were one of the biggest sticking points in the NFL labor negotiations? The NCAA doesn’t need to worry about that as long as the outside world continues to buy the notion that college football is amateurism.
So, rejoice college football fan. The day has come where the play between the lines will determine the true national champion. Is it perfect? Far from it. But it’s a step in the right direction.
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.