If there is one school that can appreciate the death of the BCS and birth of a playoff (albeit a limited one), it would be Penn State. Five times during the modern era, Penn State football completed an undefeated season. On all but one occasion, the Lions finished 2nd in the polls, or worse (including third and fifth place finishes). So, it was with great fanfare (and relief) nearly all of the Nittany Nation welcomed Tuesday’s news of a 4 team playoff.
No more will an undefeated team close out a regular season, and be relegated to an utterly meaningless bowl game, knowing there is zero chance of proving their championship acumen. Or what about those years where there are a half dozen 1-loss teams, and we’re left to determine the “best loss” or picking apart the smallest of details? Sure, a couple will be left out, but I’d much argue about 4th vs. 5th, than 2nd vs. 3rd.
Ironically, it might have been a repeat of the “Game of the Century” this past season that finally started us down this path. LSU of course bested Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, during the regular season in a thrilling/boring 9-6 OT game. Apparently every game mattered except this one, since the all-knowing BCS matched the two sides up a second time. What about Oklahoma State? Sure, their loss wasn’t as “good” as the Tide’s, but they also fell on the road, the day after the tragic plane crash that claimed the life of the Cowboy’s women’s basketball head coach and an assistant. Boise State? Sure, they don’t play the “elite” schedule, but they also seem to knock off every major opponent put in front of them.
What about the 2004 Auburn Tigers? That would be the 13-0 Auburn Tigers, who finished 3rd in the final regular season polls, and watched USC dismantle Oklahoma from the sidelines. A two loss LSU won the title in 2007, getting into the final game ahead of four other 2-loss teams in the top 9. 2008 saw 1-loss Oklahoma play Florida, ahead of Texas, Alabama and USC, Texas Tech and Penn State, all of who had 1 loss, and undefeated Utah.
Is this new 4-team playoff perfect? Hardly. There are now more variables at play, and inevitably teams 5, 6 and 7 will argue their virtues, but more good teams will get a shot. And lets put away the argument that the regular season loses its importance. One loss can still end the dream, but it also won’t crush it.
The bottom line is this is a huge improvement. I know Coach Paterno is up there smiling and telling Coach Bryant “it’s about time.”
Click here to see Tim’s argument AGAINST the new playoff!
Be sure to follow VBR Staff Writer Matt de Bear on Twitter!