Johnson: Is the ‘plus one’ a real fix for college football?

Published 10:25 pm Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I am completely torn. After much discussion, reading and contemplating, I still cannot decide if a playoff will better college football.

The former system, which allowed the Bowl Championship Series system to select the top five bowl games including the BCS National Championship Game, was what made NCAA football so intriguing. College football’s regular season will now be, in my opinion, relegated to that of the National Football League. Sure, the NFL is the most popular sport organization in the world but that is due, mostly, to the successful marketing that the league has been able to accomplish.

The NCAA is not in business to promote and sell individual players or teams.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Every game counts in college football, two games over .500 doesn’t keep you in the hunt. I for one don’t want to wish I could fast forward the regular season just to get to the good stuff as I do with the NFL. A loss at the wrong time or to the wrong team knocks you out of the national championship chase.

Some will reference the 2011 Alabama team or LSU’s 2007 squad. The Crimson Tide benefited from Oklahoma State’s mid-November loss to Iowa State, Oregon’s narrow failure to USC a day later, Boise State’s fall to TCU earlier in the month and Oregon’s defeat of Stanford the same day. Those teams suffered defeats at the wrong time or to the wrong team. Alabama needed a lot of things to go right in order to sneak into the title game and they did but weren’t you interested in all of those games? Would you have been if there were a four- to eight-team playoff waiting at season’s end? Probably not.

Same story for LSU in 2007, 10 times that season the No. 1 or No. 2 team fell. On three occasions, both of the top teams lost over the same weekend. The importance of those types of games will be greatly reduced with a large-scale playoff system.

A four-team postseason could still create security late in the season for a top team.

If an eight- to 16-team playoff is the end result in the future, give me the current BCS system.

Instead of changing the method altogether, modifications should be made to the existing one.

The main change I would suggest is all bowl games should be played no later than New Year’s Day. If I had my way, the FBS should be divided into two divisions with teams promoted and demoted based on performance like European soccer. Team’s core schedules would be regionally based with an emphasis on rivalries.

How’s that for a shake up?

The BCS is far from perfect but a playoff system based on it will create just as much debate. Why does Team A deserve a No. 4 ranking over Team B and so on?

In 2010, No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 6 Ohio State all finished the regular season with one loss. Wisconsin had beaten Ohio State winning the head-to-head but how do you separate the Badgers from Stanford.

Wisconsin lost their only game to No. 9 Michigan State mid-season by 10 points. Stanford fell to then No. 4 Oregon by 19 in Week 5 on the road. Let the sports talk radio call-ins begin.

There is no such thing as a perfect season when it comes to the postseason. Playoffs are fun and probably fairer but reduce the regular season. The BCS makes it tough for smaller schools in weak conferences but that’s why we are seeing so much realignment. Many more times than not the top two teams will play for the title. Why replace a controversial system with another?