Making the Playoffs, the Newest Hallmark of Dominance

College football has significantly changed in the last 20 years and Nebraska has changed along with it.  In the early 1990's the Huskers were showing the signs of dominance that would lead to the national titles in '94, '95, and '97.  While the BCS did not officially begin until after that time, the national media and fans wanted to see a team crowned as the one true king for that year.  Before the BCS, dominance was measured in 9+ win seasons, bowl game blowouts, and conference titles.  What will change with the race to the playoffs?

As most college football fans should know based on the headlines of the major sports news sites, the 4-team playoff starts in 2014.  A selection committee will choose the top teams and the current bowl sites will be turned into the semifinals locations.  Of course there are severe detractors, as there were when the BCS was formed.  NU's President Harvey Perlman also spoke out about it and said that this decided upon format was only the third best choice for Nebraska.  Perlman did follow up that comment with a handful of flowery, wonderful things to say about the new system.

All the details are not yet ironed out, such as the formation of the selection committee and determining which bowls will be a part of the semifinals.  Once these items are settled, college football programs will have to look at a few things.  For one, coaches contracts that specifically indicate bonuses and raises upon successfully reaching a BCS bowl will have to account for the change in the system.  How schools respond to any contract changes will be the first line in how the schools value the new playoff spots.  Are bonuses going to be the equivalent of a coach bringing his team to a BCS game, or will these coaches end up with bonuses more on par with successfully winning a conference title?

Once programs level set a few years into the new system, there will probably emerge a pattern of teams that make it to the top 4 selected.  In the last few years, the pattern has been met by the way the SEC plays football.  Defense gets the teams to the big games and gets them to win the big games.  Before that, it seemed as if the Big 12 had the top teams.  With the selection of four teams (picked by humans and not computers), it may be less likely that multiple teams from the same conference will be chosen.  Certain teams will have a perceived value (similarly to how preseason polling works) that may favor one over another.  Strength of schedule and perception were what kept teams like Boise State, TCU, and others out of games they should have been a part of.

That being said, will Nebraska be closer to being a part of this playoff?  The 4 open spots at the end of the year that will get a chance to play for the title is absolutely a better shot than getting to the top two in the BCS rankings every year.  And because of the selection committee, it is possible that a team may not even be ranked in the top 4 by polls and will get selected to play in one of these games.  The Huskers need to continue competing for conference titles and manage to mostly run the tables leading up to the game.  It is the only way to look good enough on paper for a selection committee to consider.  Winning the conference title was not explicitly stated in any criteria yet, but it should be a assumed that will be a major part of the process.

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Comments 17 comments so far

If recent history is the best predictor of the future, the likelihood of Big Red being considered for the national playoff is the same as Iowa’s, Penn State’s, or Wisconsin’s:  all these teams have ended up in the top 6 of the final BCS Pool exactly ONCE since the BCS began.  Michigan only twice.

Now that we have the 4 team playoff the next national push should be strength of schedule -  namely additional consideration given to teams that go out of conference and play ranked teams. Win or lose, these teams should be rewarded for putting their necks on the line and the KState’s and Florida’s of the world should not be given a free pass anymore.

Okay, Paul,  here’s a fair question. So how many ‘cupcake’ games do you play before not being able to be eligible to play for the Ntl Championship?
Most teams schedule 1 or 2 per season.
I would take exception to a team who’s schedule loaded with cupcakes. Be it in conference or out of conference but I still believe that under the current system, any team in the NCAA should have the right to play for the Ntl. Championship.
By the same token, Boise State has proved that they can beat pretty much any team they prepare for, regardless of what their (opponent)ranking is, and they are bound by conference to play cupcakes for the most part.
Got any ideas on how we can remedy that?

You are right. If NU runs the table, they are guaranteed to make the playoff/championship game. It’s pretty much been that way forever with the exception of an Auburn and TCU now and then. When multiple teams go undefeated then they obviously can’t all play for the title. It will still be a ‘beauty contest’ as long as humans have any part in it and a 4 team playoff will still rely on who thinks what.

If a team doesn’t belong, or attach themselves, to a strong conference, they will be on the outside looking in because strength of schedule will always play a part in tie breaker situations.

OU7times:  Do you have any thoughts/suggestions on this should work?  Your right, it is still a beauty contest so teams like ND, USC, Texas will get that extra look when teams are being chosen.  May NU will become one of those type teams.  Yeah right, please don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.  ha ha ha ha

What ever selection type committee is chosen they should also work in some type of “fail safe"system that should be able to over rule excessive corruption if the selection committee has been proven to be corrupt. 

I would love to have those games played in cool/cold weather places to show the real mettle of those chosen players.  Could you see USC or Alabama competing in 20 degree weather where it is windy and snow/rain is falling.  ha ha ha ha   Saban would be used to that type of weather having coached in Michigan State but his players would be in trouble.

You are correct OU7, it seems obvious.  The fact is that the game of college football has some significant flaws and every effort to improve it appears to only highlight them.  The BCS just made it so that some teams may have deserved a shot but didn’t get in because of name or other arbitrary number attached to the rankings.  The selection committee is only going to exacerbate the issues.  But the “mostly” running the tables has been the cause of so many headaches in the BCS.  It will only get worse.

IMO, If all 4 teams have at least one loss, then all it proves is every team can be defeated, in season or post season, and the final victor was just the best at the end.  There have been several times when a one-loss team became NC, and I believe LSU did it with 2 losses.  So I think that regardless of schedule or conference champ, an undefeated team should get in ahead of a 1-loss team.  When was the last time there were FIVE undefeated teams by bowl season?

It’s very tiring for me to even pretend to understand the complexity of how or why this playoff will work. I guess we will roll with it until ‘they’ come up with the next idea.
‘We’ have to be careful and stay away from any formula too complex or it will be the ruination of the game of college football as we know it.
But then, I liked the old bowl game system. Was the BCS system fair to Utah, Boise, Hawaii…not really.
Question: Do you want a panel of old coaches, who have school loyalties, picking the best 4 teams? Not me. Even if Switzer was one of them.
Once again, the human factor would come in to play.
Seriously, the only non biased system would be a computer exclusive program. That wouldn’t be fun and there would be no conspiracies to blame it on.
Then we wouldn’t be able to bitch about getting shafted.

Mark from VA,

And it’s reported that Notre Dame will be a big winner in this deal.
Imagine that? They don’t belong to a conference but yet can still be considered to play in the ntl championship game.

If this were people we were dealing with, instead of college football teams, we would call it discrimination.

The FBS four team playoff format is basically a “dressed up” plus one format.  The current BCS system attempts to match up the #1 and #2 teams every year and the BCS committee chooses the BCS bowl matchups. 
Now (in 2014), the “Championship Committee” will choose 4 teams that will play in the current BCS bowl system (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange) and then the victors will play in the national championship game at a city of the highest bidder.  Gimme a break people, this is not a playoff.  That is basically a plus-one format with lots of icing on the cake.  I’m really not quite sure how Perlman didn’t figure that one out until Tuesday. 

Anyway, the FCS has a true playoff just ask Craig Bohl.  Overall, the 4 team playoff is a smokescreen for more money but everyone will think it is a legit playoff…...........

Boise State hasn’t proven anything but that they can beat one good team a year.  An 81st ranked schedule does not deserve to play for a title.  I understand people like to root for the underdog, but Boise runs and hides from tough non-conference games with 1 million plus guarantees for visits when they should be following the Bowden Florida State model in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s.  I look at the best Boise State team and I see 3 losses playing Michigan’s 2012 schedule and 4 losses playing Texas A&M’s schedule this year.  They would get obliterated with their lack of depth playing LSU, @ Auburn, @ Mississippi State, @ Alabama one after another.  Boise State is a cute story, but reality set in over the course of the season in an elite league that doesn’t contain New Mexico State.  Boise playing that schedule would look like Hawaii’s BCS bowl matchup with Georgia more often than not.

Good question OU - Fairly simple, rankings should take into account more than just wins and losses. Just because a team has x number of wins doesn’t mean they are more deserving for the top 4 ranking than a team that went out of conference and lost a game.  This would help Boise St. because teams would be encouraged to play them. Right now there is only downside to play Boise rather than a cupcake - both rankings and money. Anyone else think that the Big 12 and Big 10 are crazy not to stager non-conference games like the SEC? Cupcakes sprinkled in the schedule to help a team get healthy in the meat of your schedule and better to lose early in conference rather than late.

“Run and hide”?

You wouldn’t expect Larry the Cable Guy to ‘entertain’ for the same amount as your local stand-up comic? It’s just not going to happen because the product is different.
Don’t put Boise State in the same catagory as the Western Kentucky Hilltopper’s or a Tennessee Chatanooga.
I’m sure Boise State wants more money for their product so they can afford state-of-the-art weight rooms and equipment.
After all, they have worked hard to accomplish what they have done in the last 10 years or so.
You have to love their ‘We’ll play you any time, anyplace for the (right money) attitude.

Ou7 and Drinkin with TF I agree with both of you on Boise. I admire their program for the things they have done. But I don’t think they would have made it to a Bcs game maybe ever if they played in one of the top conferences. I agree depth would be an issue and I also don’t blame them for wanting a big payday.

Maybe it’s finally time to separate the big boys from the smaller guys.  We have 1-A and 1-AA or whatever they are called this week. Create a new division of 60-64 and have schools decide if they are in, or out. Call it the BCS division and don’t let a school count more than one win over a lower division team as win towards the playoff selection criteria. I love that the B1G and Pac-12 are scheduling cross conference games and hope they are rewarded on Selection Day. I would love to see the SEC, Big XII, Big East and ACC follow this lead or be penalized for not.

To spice things up, the Mad Scientist inside of me would like to have the Selection Committee, when done with the playoff choices, create the Week 1 (Or week 3, who cares?) schedule for the following year, starting a home and home with schools in other BCS Conferences that finished in a similar conference standing. This plan would have some kinks and could scuttle the B1G-Pac12 plans but, it would help to get schools scheduled more evenly while still having 2 weeks for cupcakes, assuming a 12 week schedule with 8 conference games.



Oh yes,
I like the idea of a split between teams who can and cannot play for the national championship.
This way a team clearly knows going into the season knowing exactly where they stand.
I am especially in tune with the idea since I have personal experience of playing Texas Hold-em with someone who feels the need to change the rules during the game…on more than one occasion.
Regardless of what a person’s personal views are on Boise State (in this case), we can pretty much all agree that it would suck if ‘our’ teams were told that they didn’t fit the ‘beauty contest” profile after playing all season long with the assumption that we had a chance to play for all of the marbles.
As it stands now, all of the big boys want the cupcake games but they don’t want to pay for the service.

I just don’t believe Boise was sincere in playing anyone.  I commend them for their success, moving from I-AA to being talked about among the elite in I-A in a decade.  The Boise story is never what it appears though, they have a lousy fan base who can’t even sell out a 35K stadium 5 times a year and is a deluxe juco academically.  I just think it’s easier to drum up support by pricing yourself out of the game and then have fans whine and play up to the media about a fair shot while putting 50 on a tomato can like San Jose State.  They were still a WAC team, they should have just toughened up and taken 750K and went into Memorial Stadium or Darrell K. Royal and won.  Florida State made a name for the university with the 17-13 win in 1985 against the powerful NU brand.  Boise State could have done the same, but chose not to give full effort.  They got what they deserved.

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