The Plus-One Idea
No, you don't want this
if the BCS always had a plus-one?
So you want a plus-one system because you don't like the BCS, right?
Be careful what you wish for.
A slew of the biggest and most powerful athletic directors met in New York on Wednesday and discussed possible changes to the way the business of college football is run. There's talk about switching around the BCS games and changing up the system. The idea of eliminating the automatic bids is on the table. And, creating the biggest splash, there might be some movement to change the way college football determines a national champion by using a plus-one system.
In the end, though, the athletic directors and college presidents are doing everything possible to avoid a playoff, and along the way they're doing the major BCS conferences a huge solid.
Everyone's under the misperception that no more automatic bids means more chances for the little guy. The only problem is that there won't be any more viable little guys once Boise State and TCU sit down at the adult table, going to the Big East and Big 12, respectively.
If the BCS games aren't forced to take anyone, then take a wild guess who wins — the SEC. If there weren't any automatic BCS bids, the league would probably get four teams — LSU, Alabama, Arkansas and South Carolina — into the mega-money showcase games.
For college football fans, though, this might be a positive. The BCS games are exhibitions, and outside of conference pride and a smart trophy, they don't matter — only the BCS championship does. If it means avoiding a 2010 Oklahoma-Connecticut Fiesta Bowl to get in another great SEC team, so be it.
What does matter, though, is how this might affect a plus-one format.
Would it be a true final four with BCS No. 1 playing BCS No. 4, and BCS No. 2 playing BCS No. 3? Or would there be four BCS games with the top two teams playing after all the dust settles? Either way, to paraphrase Clark Griswold: You think you hate it now, wait 'til you drive it.
Take this year, for example. If it was a straight final four, LSU would play Stanford and Alabama would play Oklahoma State, meaning two teams that weren't even good enough to win their own conference divisions — Alabama and Stanford — would get the biggest break. Oregon played LSU in Week 1, while Stanford played San Jose State. Merry Christmas, Cardinal.
Arkansas lost to BCS No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama, meaning it theoretically could be the No. 3 team in college football. But they would be out, as would Wisconsin, which lost two road games on late bombs and avenged its loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Alternatively, let's say there weren't any automatic BCS bids and there were four BCS games — Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta. How would they be set up to create a proper plus-one championship game after all the bowls were played? Would No. 1 LSU play No. 8 Kansas State in the Sugar? Would No. 2 Alabama play No. 7 Boise State, would No. 3 Oklahoma State play No. 6 Arkansas, and worst of all worlds, would No. 4 Stanford play No. 5 Oregon?
What about Wisconsin? Clemson? TCU?
Or, what if the BCS bowls got to choose anyone they wanted? Boise State would go bye-bye for Arkansas, West Virginia would get tossed for South Carolina and Wisconsin would be in over Clemson.
What if there's some sort of a compromise that keeps the BCS league tie-ins as is, assuring the ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC of at least one team being in, but still putting the top two teams on the board not to win a conference championship — this year, No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Stanford — automatically in?
And then what?
What happens if the No. 5 team obliterates a No. 11 ACC champion? Can it still move up to No. 2 and reach the plus-one championship game? What if LSU won its bowl game, Alabama won its bowl and Oklahoma State blew away Stanford in the Fiesta? Or what if LSU lost on a late field goal and Alabama and Oklahoma State won, but weren't impressive and ... yup, you guessed it. A plus-one would create the exact same arguments we're having right now over Alabama and Oklahoma State, but it would be delayed by a few weeks.
And yes, if you're lost and confused, that's sort of the point.
Let's say the ADs are serious and they're not just talking a big game to quiet everyone down. The most likely of all plus-one scenarios would be a straight four-team playoff. The two play-in games would rotate among the BCS bowls — with the other two BCS games getting the four remaining top teams — and there would be a BCS championship at the end. The BCS wouldn't care because it would still get its games like before. The conferences would be a bit grouchy after losing two BCS spots, but the money would be made up by the teams that got to the title game.
You really want to do this, athletic directors? You really want to see how this would look?
You're right there. You have everything in place.
Just take the extra step already, and give the
nation an eight-team playoff with six conference
champions, the top non-BCS league conference
champion, and a wild card.
Really, you'll feel better. Everyone will like you.
if the BCS always had a plus-one?