This little place here on the internet has been well known for being pro-playoff, and with the announcement of some sort of a four-team playoff for the 2014 season one would think I would be more excited.
First off, I fully know that the four-team will eventually expand into something more of my liking which is a 16-team playoff with all conference champions and five or six at-large berths depending on how many leagues there are, or the Dr. Saturday plan that has 10 teams with two team limit per conference and home games until the semifinals which would be moved to bowl sites.
The current plan is some sort of four-team plan but the format is still being worked out. The one for certain is that the bowls will be involved for both the semifinals and finals.
However, the format is looking like it will be between the top four teams by some metric or the Jim Delany plan that wants conference champions only if ranked in the top-six. The former is the best way to decide a true champion while the latter would have controversy and Land-Grant Holy Land put together what the Delany plan would look like during the BCS era.
First off there would be no Boise State team at all and the only non-BCS teams in the mix would have been Utah in 2004 and 2008 plus TCU in 2010 since they were ranked in the top-six and one of the four highest rated conference champion. However, in a strick top-four team model only the 2010 TCU team would have made the cut.
Getting the No. 4 spot is much easier than the No. 2 spot, but with the best non-BCS teams in AQ leagues (or power leagues since AQ status is done) with only Hawaii being a team on the outside who has been to a BCS game. So getting that high will be nearly impossible, but the biggest reason this small playoff hurts the current non-BCS leagues is that there is no provision for a team to get into one of the big money bowl games.
Bowl games will still be used in addition to this playoff, but now they are going back to the old model of specifically tying a league to a bowl game. These high-level bowls will not be forced to take a team from a minor league, and can now take the next best team from a conference. Even if the Fiesta Bowl has an at-large spot they will likely rather take a 9-3 Notre Dame or 10-2 Virginia Tech over a 12-0 Air Force or Nevada squad.
Michael Felder of Your Best 11 makes a good point on this saying it is one giant step back to the pre-BCS days:
Essentially, as everyone hoots and hollers around their beloved playoff push, the sport is staring down the barrel of a revert to far more exclusionary practices than the BCS. Lifting the two-team limit coupled with the removal or qualifications is a recipe for disaster for the little guys. Sure, the SEC, Big XII, Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC and perhaps the Big East will ink conference deals for the champions.
This would be akin to the pre-BCS period where champions spent their January in the same locales year after year. For conferences like the Mountain West, Sun Belt, Conference-USA and MAC, that is not a positive situation to be in. No big-time bowl is going to be working with the smaller leagues to get a deal in place. Why be roped into taking a nobody from nowhere when your bowl is free to take the third best SEC team to fill your bowl slot against the ACC Champion?
So for those like me who want a college football playoff, but it is a double-edged sword that still protects the blue bloods of college football to make sure they still get their large chunk of the pie.
For reference the last time a non-major school went to a current BCS game was Louisville in 1990 who was an independent and to my surprise had a 9-1-1 record and was ranked No. 18 heading into the game.
Also, way back in 1984 BYU was trying to play a high ranking team in the Holiday Bowl such as Penn State, but they and no other team wanted to play in that game.
So while a playoff is great step in determining a national champion it will have a negative affect on the mid-major leagues for their post season destination, and possibly create an even larger financial gap between the power leagues and the rest.
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