Ever since the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide played for the national championship in New Orleans in January, a game that landed with a thud among the general public, we've heard that big changes are coming to the college football postseason. That hasn't stopped the national media from hanging on every morsel doled out by Bill Hancock and the rest of the big shots who met this week in Florida to plot out reform.
Thursday, they dropped the bomb that should have surprised absolutely no one, announcing that, in effect, they will picking from something like three variations on a four-team playoff in the coming months. Hancock says his goal is to get a recommendation to the NCAA Powers That Be by July 4.
What will that postseason tournament look like? To be determined.
Personally, since the ship appears to have sailed on semifinal games being held on campus, I'm ambivalent about the "where" aspect of all this. "Insert money-grab neutral site here" and move on.
Aside from how the playoff booty is split, the biggest remaining issues involve the process of selecting who gets in.
Could the present BCS forumla determine participation and seeding? Doubtful. Between conflicted coaches, uninformed lay voters and the computer rankings' lack of transparency, the consensus appears to be that the alchemy of the BCS has outlived its usefulness. (And if the conference commissioners really want to get public buy-in, they will re-brand whatever they do and kill off the "BCS" label entirely.)
So, at the very least, we'll see some sort of overhaul of the current ranking system. Dennis Dodd has offered up a reasonable new version of a quasi-BCS ranking system that is a more elegant alternative to what we have now.
Maybe it's just me, but I view any such mechanism as a convenient way to pass the buck. The biggest problem with the current format is the general lack of accountability. A selection committee solves that. Say what you will about the March Madness bracketing, at the end of the day, there's a neck to grab when the final decisions are made.
I understand that no one wants the responsibility of informing Alabama fans on the day when the Crimson Tide don't get kissed into the postseason tournament. It's a high-pressure job. But for the good of the game, we can't let the terrorists win.
Give me 11 members – one representative from each conference. Hold media conference calls every week with the participants to open up their views to a public vetting. In the end, make their ballots public, too.
It's certainly not a perfect system, but what is? For the time being, it would represent an appealing blend of accountability and consensus-building.