Plus-one positive step for college game

Plus-one positive step for college game
Alabama head coach Nick Saban congratulates Florida head coach Urban Meyer after the Gators 31-20 victory over the Crimson Tide for the SEC Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA December 6, 2008. (Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel)

This year marks the beginning of the end for the college football bowl system. For the first time in decades, serious discussion has begun for college football to move towards a playoff format.

In 2008, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive pitched a “plus-one” playoff system to commissioners of all other Bowl Championship Series conferences. His plan was simple. Prior to the national championship game, the No. 4-ranked BCS team would play the No. 1-ranked team, while the No. 2 team would play No. 3. This semifinal matchup would be considered the only additional postseason game, thus giving it the “plus-one” title.

Because of television contracts with BCS games, and commissioners seeing no need for change, the idea wasn’t even considered. The Atlantic Coast Conference, probably the worst BCS conference, was the only group that would even join a discussion on Slive’s proposition.

Three years and a BCS snub later, major conferences such as the Big Ten and the Big 12 are willing to discuss a small playoff format.

Their willingness comes months removed from two SEC teams dueling it out in New Orleans in the first BCS national championship rematch. The title game, which saw Alabama winning the SEC’s 6th straight national championship, was a stern reminder of the conference’s dominance of recent history.

Many BCS critics pointed at a one-loss Oklahoma State team as an example of a BCS blunder. Many Poke fans thought they deserved a chance over the one-loss Crimson Tide.

This Poke snub may be the turning point in changing college football forever. Coaches like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Les Miles have caused a major shift towards the South in college football, and many people think this dominance isn’t going anywhere.

This sudden call for change means that the rest of the world sees no other way to stop the SEC. More and more voters are beginning to realize that the SEC is the best football conference, and more and more voters are voting as such.

If a playoff is enacted, it can only help Alabama. In 2008, the Crimson Tide finished the season ranked No. 4 after the loss to Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators in the SEC championship. If the plus-one model were enacted prior to 2008, the Crimson Tide would have seen a semi-final rematch against the Gators.

Given Alabama’s dominating victory over a similar 2009 Florida team and Nick Saban’s track record with rematches of big games, it is not out of the question to suggest that Alabama could have been in the national championship game against Oklahoma or Texas in Saban’s second year at the Capstone.

College football is the only division of major sports, pro or collegiate, that does not have some kind of playoff system. The need for one has existed for a long time. For the first time ever, people in power are seriously considering it. It is time for SEC fans to embrace it, as it is just the rest of the nation’s response to a historical run of dominance.


Jake Gray is a senior majoring in economics and journalism. His column runs on Tuesday.

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