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College football begins transition to new playoff system

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Football fans bid BCS farewell.

On Jan. 6 most Oklahoma Christian University students tuned into a TV in a dorm room, the student center or a sports grill to watch the Florida State Seminoles take on the Auburn Tigers in the 2014 Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The completion of this game marked not just the end of the 2013-2014 season, but also the termination of the BCS National Championship Game.

The BCS stood out as one of the most controversial aspects of the modern sports era. For years, both sports analysts and average fans called for an overhaul to the system that decides which teams will compete for the championship title.

According to its official website, the BCS is “a five-game college football showcase. It is designed to ensure that the top two teams in the country meet in the national championship game and to create exciting and competitive matchups among eight other highly regarded teams in four other bowl games.”

One early complaint against the BCS was the inconsistency of its regulations.

“[The problem with the BCS system was] every time they switched it,” senior sports management major Nate Donley said. “If you’re going to put in a system like that, you have to keep it. However you do it you’ve just got to sit with it and see how it works out for a while. But after just one year, they added [parameters] to it or took away [regulations], but then that just creates more problems.”

After critiquing policies for several years, BCS guidelines remained untouched for a spell, allowing heavy criticism to die down.

“After it got settled in and everyone kind of got over the [controversy] of when it was first implemented, I think it wasn’t too bad, and they finally found an OK system,” sophomore broadcast major Braeden Fair said.

Perhaps the greatest problem critics saw in the BCS system, strict requirements made it nearly impossible for a team with a loss to make it to the championship.

“In the NFL, they have a whole bracketed system, so a team that wins their last six games of the year, like the Chargers are doing, can go win it all,” junior broadcasting major Jon Stafford said. “Alabama lost to OU, but what if OU comes and beats Florida State? In college football there’s just not that bracketed system, so you have to play in the regular season your best, or you’re not the best.”

Some argue that the need for a team to hold a near-perfect record to play in the championship is what gives college football value. Every game counts, therefore every game is exciting and enjoyable.

“Every game matters,” Donley said, “That’s kind of the beauty of it. Every week’s important. In the NFL you can lose a game, but you can’t lose a game in college football and survive.”

However, many claim that the true test of a football program’s abilities should come in the postseason.

“In my mind, it’s all about playoffs,” Stafford said.

That appears to be the idea behind the new College Football Playoff, despite the quickly-critiqued lack of creativity in the name.

“It is kind of a lame name, but at least we have a championship now,” Stafford said.

The new stark title stands entirely opposite to the flavorful banners of previous games.

“I think it’s a little bland,” Fair said. “You’re going from one extreme to another with the Rose Bowl, with the Allstate Sugar Bowl and even with the BCS National Championship Game. It’s going from that all the way down to just calling it the College Football Championship Game.”

Some admit they’re happy enough with the new system to live with the name.

“It’s not very dramatic,” Donley said. “It’s alright I guess. I’d probably just leave it alone.”

The new playoff system will feature the best four teams playing in two games to determine the contenders of the championship game.

“College football will enter a new four-team playoff era,” the new College Football Playoff website said. “The format is simple: the top four teams, two semifinals played in bowl games and a championship game played in a different city each year.”

Many are already speculating the playoff’s growth from a four-team system into a larger, bracketed postseason.

“The question everybody wants to know is, ‘How long is it going to stay only a four-team playoff?’” Stafford said.

Fair is concerned that with the admission of more teams into the bracket, the playoff will go further into the year, obstructing other sports of the universities.

“I think they will expand it,” Fair said. “But with how limited the schedule is, having only 13 to 14 weeks, you can’t play more than once a week obviously. It’ll be way too challenging to try to get the playoff to eight or 12 or even 16 teams because then that’s going to extend the schedule and we’ll be playing football into February. With other sports and schools trying to make money off of basketball and baseball, they have to keep it to some minimum.”

Along with systematic changes, the new College Football Playoff will also bring about changes to iconic symbols of the BCS era, such as the BCS crystal football.

“It’s exciting,” Stafford said. “They’re going to do a whole new trophy. The glass ball that we’ve all been accustomed to for so long is gone, and we don’t know what [the new trophy] is.”

To keep tradition alive, the semifinal games will pay homage to their BCS names. Six bowl games will rotate to be played as the semifinal games in three year cycles. The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will kick off the College Football Playoff semifinals, and then be replaced three years later with the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl, and the Fiesta Bowl and Chick-Fil-A Bowl will close the rotation. North Texas will host the first ever College Football Playoff on January 12th, 2015.

The new system is in effect through 2025. All games will be broadcast on ESPN.


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