By Brent Beaird, Lindyssports.com
Tuesday of last week was arguably the most significant day in college football history. For the first time in the 134- year history of the sport, some closure was given to the end of the season when the NCAA Presidential Oversight Committee affirmed a four-team playoff to begin after the current BCS contract runs out in 2014. All the details have yet to be finalized, but it doesn’t matter right now. This is a time of celebration for college football fans who wondered if they would see a playoff in their lifetime.
The first reason that Tuesday was such an important day for college football was what it does for the future. I believe before the 12-year contract is over, the powers to be will expand the playoff to six- or- eight teams in order to give the less powerful conferences a chance for inclusion. Plus, the additional money will be too hard to ignore because the final four or whatever we will call it will be successful beyond anyone’s imagination. Also, remember that a lot of the power brokers including Jim Delany of the Big Ten and Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman will be in retirement. This means that in a half dozen years more progressive thinking people will be in charge of college football.
The second and most important reason is the presidents’ decision may have saved the sport. You have to look long term on this one. In terms of television ratings and stadium attendance, college football was starting to suffer. People are losing interest. Our younger generation wants to see championships settled on the field not in some silly poll. By the time the BSC commissioners met to discuss the postseason in January there was a recognition that changes needed to be made to maintain the enthusiasm that’s been built through the years for college football. Interim Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said, “We had to recognize that to keep the public we had to do something.”
There has been more change in the sport during the past two years than perhaps in the previous 30 years. Why did the change occur so quickly? Here are several reasons.
The title game between SEC foes Alabama and LSU was the proverbial last straw. Conference commissioners don’t want to see this again especially from the SEC. It also helped that the ratings for the title game were down double- digits from the previous season.
The media also had a hand in the change. Dan Wetzel’s book “Death to the BCS” opened a lot of eyes to the corruption of the bowls and the system. Other media including Tim Brando of CBS Sports and the Playoff Pac kept the problems with the BSC in the news.
The commissioners also wanted to leave a legacy. They may never admit this, but Mike Slive of the SEC and Delaney want to be known as men who started a college football playoff. There is nothing wrong with that desire. They have earned it.
Also these commissioners did not want to face congress again to defend the antiquated BSC system.
There is plenty left to do. We have to deal with two more seasons of the BCS, but the time will pass quickly. Plenty of questions remain such as dividing up the money and picking the selection committee. Yet, for this week it is time to celebrate that the slow-moving glacier that is college football has finally (about 30 years overdue) implemented a playoff system. That is why this past Tuesday was the most important day in college football history.
Brent Beaird writes for Lindyssports.com, Gator Bait magazine and Samssportsline.com. He can be heard on 1010XL sports radio in Jacksonville, Florida. Brent, who is a Heisman Trophy voter, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @brentbeaird