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An Interruption to B1G 2012 // A Playoffs Cocktail Party Preview

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Bill Hancock, BCS Chairperson, stares at his crystal ball and sees a future where he is irrelevant. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Bill Hancock, BCS Chairperson, stares at his crystal ball and sees a future where he is irrelevant. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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For a lot of us, College Football has always been almost perfect. We love the rivalries, the hate, the style of play, the bands, the unis, and the cheerleaders. The one thing that has been keeping it from perfect, again for a lot of us but not all of us, has been the lack of a legitimate way to decide who is National Champion. If we were to jump into our fancy time machine to the year 1997, Nebraska and Michigan shared the title of National Champion in what most fans argue was a sham. Now, if you ask me, the bigger travesty was not splitting a title, but the way we robbed College Football of an opportunity to see an epic matchup.

Initially, to stem the tide of such injustices, the power brokers that were the conference heads, TSISB AD Jack Swarbrick, a CEO style power broker in Bill Hancock, and a whole bunch of television lobbyists created the answer: THE BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES! By marrying the major bowls with a complicated system that would transcend conference tie-ins, these men decided that playoffs had no business being in Division 1A football. You know, because that made sense. Fast-forward to last week; these same men (at least the ones who still have their jobs) announced that the BCS was dead after one of the most obnoxious pairings in National Championship history.

That leads us here. This week at OTE, we have decided to postpone B1G 2012//Northwestern to next week. In its place, we will be doing a B1G 2012 look at the entire playoff system. In the coming days, you'll see much of what we do every week, but with a twist. Today I will be kicking things off with a Playoffs Cocktail Party Preview. For the Northwestern fans who were really excited about their week, I apologize. We thought about cutting into your week, but Chad was adamant you got an entire week to yourselves. There are a lot of things to discuss, and I hope that you all give your two cents. As far as College Football is concerned, this might be the most impacting decision over the past 20 years. Are we all ready for that? Well, that remains to be seen.

On the Previous Format

The Good News is...

Well, the good news is that the BCS is dead. While there is definitely an argument that the BCS generally paired up the best two teams in football, I would say that the format was outdated and too complicated. As we have pointed out in previous articles, any system shrouded in mystery and filled with unknowns is probably corrupt (or at minimum, it's woefully skewed). Over the past week, we have rarely heard someone trumpeting the BCS, and pretty much every major Sports Outlet (SBN, WWL, CBS, FOX, Yahoo!) has taken the chance to take one last cheapshot at the BCS' expense.

The Bad News is...

The bad news is that we're still not 100% sure on this new system. Most of the initial architects of the playoff system, notably Mike Slive of SEC fame, have pointed out that this does not have to be a system of 64 teams duking it out for supremacy, but rather should be a smaller group that allows for fewer extra games (because these are student athletes, right? *crickets*). Most of us are okay with a whittling down of teams, but if there are only four, one has to wonder how they're chosen. Also, there are some major ramifications for the bowls... most notably the Rose Bowl, but we'll get to that in a moment.

On Conference Realignment

The Good News is...

The great news is that this should effectively kill conference realignment for the time being. In a world where the Big East stretches from Idaho to the Atlantic, this is a breath of fresh air. Most all of the moves were set into motion because there was quickly becoming a group of haves (BCS schools) and have-nots. Obviously, I am more than happy for Nebraska to be in the B1G, but you can also talk about how sad it was to see tradition scoffed at so openly. With a system that just asks you to be in the Top 4, it will matter less where you are. Now, I have heard Strength of Schedule and Conference Champion is still in play to factor into the new formulas, but until its confirmed, let's just assume this is good news.

The Bad News is...

I really don't see too much bad here, except maybe the lack of ammunition for SBN Affiliates. We have had a heyday talking trash about who goes where. Also, does anyone else think TSISB gets off too easy still? I think so. Now there is little to no incentive for them to join a conference and we will cede to the wishes of a self-absorbed, outdated, team.

On the B1G

The Good News is...

The best news for the B1G is that it really sounds like we are going to get some homesite games in Dec/Jan. So long as a B1G team finishes 1 or 2, my guess is that the system will reward those teams with either a regional or literal home game to host that round 1 (that is unless someone convinces the powers-that-be that College Campuses can't host College Football games...). This is excellent news for a conference that has spent most of its bowling season in SEC, Big XII, and Pac-12 territory. It also gives the B1G flexibility to keep ties into major bowls that are not directly attached to a playoff and increases revenue for years that they are part of the Playoff series.

The Bad News is...

Well, the worst news is that the B1G needs to get into that top four. As of right now, the scheduling and perceived weakness of the conference is hurting the cache of the whole. Unless major conference championships are a part of the formula, the B1G is going to need teams to run the table to be in the discussion. While I hate to admit it, the SEC has earned the right to a mulligan as of now, and that affords them more opportunities to make it to the playoffs. When the SEC wins, everyone else loses (ESS-EEE-SEE*CLAP*ESS-EEE-SEE*CLAP*ESS-EEE... ughhh).

On the Rose Bowl

The Good News is...

Sounds like Jim Delany did not forget about the Rose Bowl. While his original idea was so outrageous that I still don't understand the format (Rose Bowl as a play in to a four team playoff? Yeah, ridiculous), he deftly maneuvered his power to create a system that keeps Bowls and Playoffs separate. In doing so, the TV contracts and historic matchups/tie-ins allow for max revenue and a destination regardless of your season. With schools in the B1G who only care about making the Rose Bowl, you have an incentive to keep playing hard. Years where 9-3 wins the conference, you can still drive up revenue and if all goes as planned, there might even be a Fiesta Bowl tie-in that would guarantee even more money in the coffers. It's also worth pointing out that this would eliminate any chance of a non-B1G or non-Pac 12 team getting into the historic bowls. Since they aren't deciding champions, they can choose whoever the hell they please. It's really not a bad thing at all.

The Bad News is...

I think the worst part of this is that the Rose Bowl might not have the same pull. If you have a Pac-12 and B1G team (or even two and one) making the four team playoff, we're looking at 2nd tier teams or teams playing up. Over time, that might demean this historic game, and none of us want that. Still, even with the potential drawbacks, just keeping the Rose Bowl in the fold seems to be a positive move by Delany and friends. I think this is a minor drawback at best.

If You're Talking to a Playoff Fan

Do Mention...

How awesome it is that College Football is finally following suit with every major sport in the world by instilling some form of decision of who is National Champion. A four team playoff only extends the year by one game, and fans get a better product on television and in person. Matchups won't be decided by computers for bowls, and history keeps its place within the ranks. It's a good deal all around

Don't Mention...

The fact that nobody has any clue how this will play out, and that despite a belief that this is the end-all/be-all answer, this is still all controlled by money. It's kind of like we said last year when we were following Conference Realignment speculation, if you don't know, follow the greenbacks.

Bonus Don't Mention...

Also, if you're talking to a Playoffs fan and he/she mentions that they are a fan of a Mid-Major team (See: Boise State), you probably shouldn't point out that no matter what happens, they're still going to be disappointed. Teams without a voice in comparison to the B1G, SEC, Big XII, and Pac 12, are probably not going to get a fair chance at the playoffs. Is it better than it used to be? Sure, because now there's a chance, but the reality is that it will be slim and if voting and complicated computer systems are still being used, people will find a way to keep things the way they are.