It’s finally here, after years of begging and pleading by college football fans around the nation, it’s finally time for a playoff. Ohio State is among those cheering the news, the Big Ten as a conference has a lot to gain by being put on equal footing with the SEC and Big12.
But with great news comes many new questions, most importantly how will the teams be selected?
With any form of collegiate postseason the selection process will always be something that comes into question. Whether it be the former BCS process, or the committee in March Madness the validity of selections will be argued wildly amongst fans. This playoff system will be no different, but how exactly should we select the teams?
It seems right now that there are three different forms of thought on what to do, with specific conferences all aligning themselves differently. The first idea is we take the top 4 teams regardless of conference, and place them into a playoff with 1 v. 4 and 2 v. 3. The second is a slight tweak on that system, with the top 3 conference winners being selected and a 4th wildcard team. The final solution is a plus 1 system, where the current bowl system stays intact but with an extra championship game being played after the postseason has been completed. The first is supported by the SEC and Big 12, the second by the ACC and Big East, and the last by the Big 10 and Pac 12.
For Ohio State though it seems the most advantageous may not be what the Big 10 favors most. The Big 10 wants the plus 1 system to keep its history with the Rose Bowl alive, but most of the individual teams, including the Buckeyes, would probably benefit the most from the 2nd option.
The Big 10 has been disrespected over the last few seasons, so getting into the top 4 of the standings would almost require an undefeated campaign, an incredibly difficult task. Under Urban Meyer the Buckeyes should be consistent contenders to win the conference, making the conference winner system the best option. If Ohio State is going to win the conference regularly they might as well be rewarded for it.
The reason though that this system is better than a plus 1 is the extra wildcard team. Even if the Buckeyes have a national championship quality regular season they could still lose in the Big Ten Championship game, see the 2003 Big 12 Championship game for an example, and would lose its shot at a national title. In that same scenario but with the 2nd playoff option the Buckeyes would slip into that de facto wildcard position and still be on track to win it all.
Over these summer months the heads of the Big 6 conferences will be deliberating over which option is overall the best for college football. When the decision finally comes down we will have a new system of how to decide a national champion.
No matter which option they decide though, it is time for a celebration. The BCS is gone and is never coming back. Thank the college football gods that this nightmare is finally over.