In a time where college football is more popular and profitable than ever before and most Universities are facing budget shortfalls; school presidents, athletic directors, conference commissioners and the NCAA are missing out on a huge source of revenue and excitement.
It is a college football playoff. An eight-team, three week adventure that would capture the attention of tens of millions of college football fans and bring in millions of more dollars to college football programs.
Today begins a series, where the idea of a college football playoff will be discussed in great detail, and once finished, the myths used to defend the reasons why there isn’t one won’t make any sense and the need for a college football playoff will be more clear than ever before.
In the first couple parts of this series, the common myths of why there can’t and shouldn’t be a college football playoff will be debunked, brutalized and mocked.
The myths include:
1) There can’t be a playoff because it would take place during final exams
2) It would take away from the most exciting regular season in all of sports
3) There would be too many games for the players
4) It won’t create more revenue than the current bowl system
5) Fan’s wouldn’t travel to the playoff games.
Following the myths of why there shouldn’t be a college football playoff, the idea of what playoff system should be used will also be discussed in great detail.
Quick reference notes:
FBS is short for Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A), and it is the major college football division.
FCS is short for Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA), and it is the secondary college football division
Divisison II and III are the the next level of football divisions run by the NCAA.
Myth #1: Major college football can’t have a playoff because it would take place during final exams
The FBS season starts around the first weekend of September and ends the first weekend of December. After a couple of off weeks, the bowls start around Dec. 17-20.
Under the current schedule, it would appear that there are no college football games between the first weekend of December and mid-December — but that isn’t the case at all.
Other than the FBS, the NCAA also runs Division I-AA (FCS), Division II and Division III levels of football competition.
And guess what, all three of those divisions have a playoff to decide the champion. FCS uses a 20-team playoff (4 play-in games), Division II uses a 24-team playoff (8 play-in games), and Division III uses a 32-team playoff.
So there’s reason number one for a college football playoff: Every other football division has one, along with every other sport and level of competition that the NCAA runs.
But for some reason, Division I football does not have a playoff. Before I get started, here is a link to the playoff brackets from 2010: FCS (Division I-AA), Division II, Division III
The in-depth focus will be on the FCS, because that level of competition is the most similar to FBS football.
The final four rounds of the FCS tournament from 2010 (NCAA.com)
The FCS playoff format is a 20-team tournament with four play-in games. Every team plays 10 regular season games, with a maximum of 15 games (Note: This would assume that one of the four play-in game winers would reach the championship, other than that, the max for any team would be 14 games).
There are five rounds of the tournament including the championship game and the first four rounds are played at the home site of the higher seeded team.
So, when are these five rounds played. The first and second round take place during the last two weeks of the FBS season, so no difference there. The third and fourth rounds take place during the next two weeks in December. In 2010, those weeks included the Saturday’s of Dec. 11 and Dec. 18.
Eastern Washington, the team that eventually won the FCS Championship, held Final Exams from Dec. 6 to Dec. 9 according to their academic website.
Eastern Washington's Academic Schedule 2010 (EWU.edu)
In the case of Eastern Washington, final exams were taken by the players the week before Eastern Washington defeated Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 4, and after they defeated North Dakota State on Dec. 11.
Now, although the final exam schedule is different for everyone, most final exams at Universities around the country take place during the first couple weeks of December.
Also, EWU began Winter 2011 classes on Jan. 3, the Monday before they played Delaware in the FCS Championship on Jan. 7.
Cliff notes: The FCS, along with Division II and III, hold playoffs during the weeks of final exams
Okay, whatever, what does that mean?
Basically, the NCAA allows the FCS to play in playoff games during the final exam period, but it is not okay for major college football to hold a playoff during those same weeks.
Makes a lot of sense right?
The NCAA refers to college football players as “student-athletes” and their commercials always say, “most of our student-athletes will go pro in something other than sports”.
First, if that was the case, then why would the FCS schedule a playoff during final exams?
Side note: Wouldn’t it be reasonable to say that the education would matter more to an FCS player than an FBS player because the chances of an FCS player actually going pro in football are less than that of an FBS player.
Also, why is the idea that the FBS can’t hold a playoff because it would take place during final exams a reason for them to not to have a playoff when the FCS, Division II and Division III all hold playoff games during those weeks.
Can someone please tell me the answer?
Face it, there is no answer to that question.
So far, the only statements from school presidents, athletic directors and the NCAA have been that the FBS can’t have a playoff because of final exams, but that is where those comments stop. There is no follow up to that statement, no facts to back it up.
It is an absolute myth that major college football can’t hold a playoff because the games would take place during final exams. My reason, as stated before: The other divisions that have a college football playoff, have games during those weeks.
Another reason to debunk this myth, well, here it is
The final point, and this makes the whole argument above completely pointless, is that there can be a college football playoff WITHOUT games being played during final exams.
For the 2011 season, the bowl season starts Dec. 17 with the New Mexico Bowl, Humanitarian Bowl and New Orleans Bowl, and runs through Jan. 9 with the BCS National Championship Game.
That is 24 days, or a three and a half week period where bowl games are being played.
Guess what, it only takes 15 days to complete an eight-team college football playoff. (Note: Although a playoff take be three weekends, the first round would be played on day one, the second round could be played on day eight, and the championship round could be held on day 15)
Yet another reason and example that completely debunks this myth of not having a college football playoff.
In conclusion, I will give the NCAA and school presidents credit on one thing, they know how to create good P.R., because with the whole “you can’t play FBS playoff games during final exams” excuse, they make it appear like they care about the academic standing of their athletes.
However, the bottom line is that this reason is a complete lie, and although it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out, apparently the NCAA hasn’t.