The subject of a playoff for the highest level of college football has long been a desire of the fans. It has been a desire of the coaches for the most part for the last decade. It appears that the chancellors and the presidents might be coming to the decision that a four team playoff, essentially a plus-1 system, might be on the docket in the next few years. Whether it is an answer for increased demand for growing revenue or if it is an answer to the frustration over the BCS system, college football could look very different than it does now in just a few years.
DeLoss Dodds is one of the most important voices in college sports. As the athletic director at the University of Texas, he manages the largest budget in college sports and has a résumé that speaks for itself. It not only has championships but possesses a quality of competition, the goodwill of a Fortune 500 company and a revenue model that is unrivaled in college sports.
While most of the college football world is bracing for a four-team playoff, Dodds actually would prefer to see that number double.
“I’m for an eight-team playoff but anything to get beyond where we are today with the BCS,” Dodds said. “The four-team playoff is fine. If we can pick the four teams and not go through the bowl games. Pick the four teams after the season and have a semifinal and a final I think that’s a good positive step.”
If the new system does not go through the bowl games than either the bowl system will change or the plus-1 will be layered on top of the current platform of college football.
But how will those four teams be chosen? Does it end up being the result of four 16-team super conferences and the champion of each of those conferences will populate the plus-1 system? Do the conferences stay in their same format and a version of the current BCS formula determines the four teams? Dodds has an opinion about who should have the final say.
“I’d put people in it,” Dodds said.
While the Harris Poll has been part of the BCS formula due to its makeup of former players, media members and former coaches, it is not seen as a best practice and could need to be doubled or tripled in size so factions cannot be formed that skew the results. Dodds did not rule out using something resembling the NCAA tournament selection committee to get to a football version of the Final Four.
“Give the people the computer rankings. Give people the newspaper polls. Give the people everything and then let people decide,” Dodds said. “People that are not biased and people that know the sport, that know college football and let them pick the four teams. That would be a tough job but it’s a tough job to pick 68 in basketball but they do it.”
Change is in the air. It is a story that nobody wants to put down but that nobody has the answers to. Soon, somewhere in a hotel conference room while croissant sandwiches are getting stale in the corner, a decision will be made. That decision will be made and college football will change forever.