MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04: A detail of the Orange bowl trophy is seen after the West Virginia Mountaineers won 70-33 against the Clemson Tigers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Things were suppose to be different with a college football playoff, but in reality it mirrors the BCS and even further back to before that. The ACC and Orange Bowl agreed to a 12-year deal, and we already discussed how the ACC champion still gets to go to a major bowl game even when the Orange Bowl is used as a semifinal.
The system is only favoring the SEC, Big 12, Big 10, Pac-12 and now the ACC; so any school without a major bowl tie in will have an extremely tough time making the four-team playoff, or earn a spot in the six major bowls. The reason this is a blow to leagues similar to the Mountain West is that if the ACC champion is in the playoff, the Orange Bowl will just pluck the next ACC team, regardless of ranked.
This sounds a lot like the old systems, but at least with the BCS the replacement team had to be ranked high enough to earn that spot. Well, not any more since any ACC team can jump in as a replacement even if they are ranked lower than No. 12.
Soon-to-be ACC blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician makes a good point about how no matter how many positive changes that college football makes, they still seem to revert back to the old days:
Of course, that also means that while college football has taken a step forward with the playoff, it's also taken a step back in terms of openness. Basically, the ACC now has the same deal with the Orange Bowl that the Pac-12 and Big Ten had for years with the Rose Bowl. It's that kind of exclusionary thinking that got the sport in the situation in the first place.
The whole point of the playoff system was to eliminate AQ status and even the playing field. And yet, if anything, the playing field is even more segregated today than it was before the playoff. We all know it's going to be almost impossible for anyone outside the Big Four to make it into the playoff. And when it comes to the six bowl games that the playoff selection committee is in charge of, most of the spots will go to 2nd place and 3rd place Big Five schools over 1st place "second-tier" schools.
This is another example of the mid-major schools exchanging access for a bigger pay check. Right now of the 12 spots regulated for major bowls/playoffs, five spots are set aside. Really that number will be more because the four-team playoff will likely feature teams from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. That really means that nine of the 12 spots are likely to be determined. Even in the off year the Big East or even a mid-major team is ranked high enough the five leagues with major bowl ties still occupy eight of the 12 spots.
That is why I strongly encourage that the playoff committee -- or whoever -- has some ranking requirement for these bowls, because what happens when a pair of Big 12 or SEC teams get into the playoffs and then the third place team from those leagues get the bowl-tie in spot and ranked No. 17 all while there is a No. 8 Big East or No. 11 Mountain West team battling for a spot.
The better example could be with the second ACC team getting an auto bid due to the champion earning a spot in the playoffs, because the second ACC realistically could be ranked in the late teens to early 20s.
The similar outcry will happen as when an unranked Connecticut made the Fiesta Bowl just because of their league had an automatic berth to the BCS. Not sure how often this will happen, but with a guaranteed spot for a league it leaves less room for deserving teams who do not have a bowl tie-in.
That is why it would be nice to have a cut-off for teams to get into one of the major bowls, and not let a team in based on the league affiliation. Teams need to earn their way to the big time pay check.
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