The Wolverine

June-July 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 81 of 83

MAIZE N' VIEW MICHAEL SPATH ments have been made yet, major me- dia outlets, including Yahoo Sports, and, have reported that the current setup to determine a national champion in college football will come to an end in the next two years. Beginning in 2014, four teams are expected to meet in semifinal con- tests — No. 1 vs. No. 4, No. 2 vs. No. 3 — leading to a matchup to decide the national title. Among the current proposals, Big D ing-dong the BCS, in its pres- ent incarnation, is gone. Though no official announce- Ten commissioner Jim Delany has suggested that conference champions be given preferential treatment if they are ranked in the top six nationally at the end of the regular season. In this arrangement, seven of the past 10 Big Ten league title winners would have been candidates to earn a playoff berth. While the nation's power brokers An eight-team playoff likely would have given LaMarr Woodley and Michigan an opportunity to play for the national championship in 2006. are certainly taking steps to sate the thirst of the American public de- manding a fairer way to crown a na- tional champion, they are trading one argument for another if they limit the competitors to only four. They should expand to eight. If invitations were given to the football's future should expand by four, to eight teams. In doing so, Delany can still get his wish by lock- ing each of the six BCS conference champions — those hailing from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-12 and SEC — into a quarterfinal, while granting two wild cards to the please the masses. In this scenario, LSU (SEC), Okla- top four teams in the BCS standings, then LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State and Stanford would have met in last year's playoff. In Delany's format, though, Oregon would have trumped the Cardinal because the Ducks were the Pac-12 conference champs. So what about Stanford, which homa State (Big 12), Oregon (Pac-12), Wisconsin (Big Ten), Clemson (ACC) and West Virginia (Big East) would have earned automatic berths as their league's victors, while the Crimson Tide and the Cardinal would have been the wild cards. There will still be debate, especially Ohio State (champion) and Iowa (wild card) in 2002, Penn State (cham- pion) and Ohio State (wild card) in 2005, the Buckeyes (champion) in 2006 and 2007, the Nittany Lions (champion) in 2008, the Scarlet and Gray (champ) in 2009, Wisconsin (champion) and Ohio State (wild card) in 2010, and the Badgers (cham- pion) again in 2011. That would be 14 teams in a decade — what's not to like about that? The good news is that college foot- Take It One Step Further PHOTO BY WOLVERINE PHOTO would have also been forced out in 2010, by Big Ten champion Wisconsin, even though it ranked fourth ahead of the fifth-rated Badgers at the end of the regular season? Imagine if in college basketball only the conference's kings were in- vited to March Madness. Elevating the conference champions is noble, but shortsighted because the best team may not be given the opportu- nity to show itself. After all, if only league winners were permitted, 2011 national champ Alabama would have been excluded. Instead, the men deciding college 82 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2012 if 2011 — when Clemson was ranked 15th and West Virginia 23rd at the end of the regular season — were to repeat itself, but like college basket- ball, which does grant berths to each conference champion, college football needs to give those teams that have survived their grueling conference slates a just reward (and in doing so re-establish the value of earning a league title). If college football adopted this format, Michigan would have been a playoff team in 2003 and 2004 (co- champions with Iowa but won the head-to-head matchup), and likely would have been a wild card team in 2006, ranking as the highest non- league champ (No. 3) in the polls. The Big Ten also would have sent ball's archaic system will soon be a memory and that a better format is coming. However, better doesn't al- ways mean best. A four-team playoff might satisfy in the short term, but will only lead to more hassles because of the worthy programs it eliminates from contention. Every expansion will likely bring about greater discussion for more and more inclusion, but an eight-team sce- nario in which all six BCS conferences are represented, and two wild cards, at least presents the opportunity for a legitimate national champion. The decision makers should be applauded for finally giving college football a playoff, but they still aren't giving the game what it deserves. ❏ Associate Editor Michael Spath has been with The Wolverine since 2002. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Spath_ Wolverine.

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