College sports are steeped in tradition and pageantry. Often, it is difficult to create change in the college athletic environment because of tradition. But soon, the landscape of the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision will see a drastic alteration.
Beginning next season, the college football’s topflight division will include a national championship playoff. This new format has been a long time coming, as the Bowl Championship Series powers that be kept the bowl system in place for nearly a decade and a half. This wouldn’t be so bad, if that format wasn’t so controversial.
Since 1934, football’s national champion has been chosen by voters and, eventually, computer rankings. This method is subjective and far from unanimous. Many seasons have seen multiple teams with viable arguments for the top spot. The BCS tried to bring some sense of unity to the sport by creating a computer ranking system that matched the top two teams in a winner-take-all national title game.
This is in stark contrast to all other NCAA playoffs, in which teams compete for a championship through tournaments and series. Most sports have large postseason fields. Division 1 basketball, for instance, features 68 teams. These large postseason tournaments often produce exciting upsets, and the champion is decided on the field, not by the calculations of a computer.
But college football has finally come around.
Four teams will enter the postseason next December with a shot at the title. Ideally, this number will grow to 8, 12, or even 16 teams. With more teams comes greater parity and a higher likelihood that the most deserving team triumphs.
George Fox football will also kick off next season, but they won’t be affected by the change. The Bruins compete in Division III, which has had a playoff format since 1973.
But many big schools, such as Oregon, Alabama and Ohio State, will be affected and their fans will follow very closely. Four teams are hardly enough, but at least it is a step in the right direction.