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College Football Playoff: What's the Biggest Unanswered Question?


The BCS is no more, and college football will have a playoff beginning with the 2014 season. Although the new format and structure was officially announced on Tuesday, many questions remain for college football fans across the nation.

What's the Biggest Unanswered Question With College Football's New Playoff Format?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I could start with questions of the composition of the selection committee or how the revenues are distributed and if any of those revenues will go to a player stipend. But all those questions are a little inside baseball at this point. I want to know what a college football season is going to look like once the playoff is in place. Oregon (ranked fifth) essentially was punished in the rankings last season for losing to LSU to open the season, compared to Stanford (ranked fourth, who lost to Ducks by 23 points at home). Will the new system encourage more marquee non-conference games or discourage them? If the system discourages them, what happens to perennial games like USC-Notre Dame or Florida-Florida State and so on? As for the remaining teams in the non-Big Six -- the Mountain West, MAC, Conference USA and Sun Belt -- will those teams be able to schedule enough quality non-conference opponents to make a run at a playoff should they go undefeated? Or will they be further designed to being second-class citizens?

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
It won't be the most important aspect for fans — that will be the selection committee, timing, the bowl sites or host cities — but the flow of revenue is easily the largest, most influential decision yet to be made. The 2011 BCS television contract was worth $174 million and the new TV deal could easily triple that figure in two years when this playoff party gets started in 2014. So over the course of the 12-year lifespan of the playoff contract, the TV agreement could be worth upwards of $6 billion dollars. How is that money divided? Who does the dividing? And what criteria will be used to determine where the money is shipped? So while fans will be consumed with the selection process, where games will be played or future expansion, the only thing the decision makers are concerned with is dollars and cents. And it is this flow of cash that will shape the future landscape of college football more than anything else.

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Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The makeup of the selection committee is my biggest concern. Several options have been thrown out for the committee but none particularly stand out. Are we really sure former head coaches are knowledgeable about current teams? When you throw conference commissioners, university presidents and athletic directors onto the committee, bias and objectivity will be a major source of concern for the fans. The selection committee is going to be heavily scrutinized and rightfully so. The people choosing college football’s top four teams need to be knowledgeable about each team, as well as watching several games each week. I’m not sure former head coaches or athletic directors fit that qualification. Although a selection committee will probably work out fine, I think concerns will always exist over this aspect of the new playoff format. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
For me, it's the make-up of the selection committee. I would rather see some sort of formula that combines a poll (or polls) and a computer ranking. But that isn't happening, so it's time to focus on the committee: Who will be on it and how will they go about selecting the teams? This will be a much more difficult task than selecting the 68 teams for the NCAA Tournament in basketball. The sample size is far greater in hoops; you have 30-plus games to evaluate teams. In football, there are 12 or 13 games, and maybe only four or five of those games were against top-25 caliber teams. It will be far more difficult — and the ramifications much greater — to differentiate between teams No. 4 and No. 5 in football than it is to sort out teams No. 68 and No. 69 in basketball. I hope the selection committee is up to the task.

Mark Ross
To me the biggest question that remains is the one that will produce the most debate and scrutiny come December - choosing the four playoff teams. Because in the end, regardless of how the money ends up being distributed amongst the conferences and how the selection committee ends up looking, what matters most, to conferences, schools and fans alike, is which four teams get that shot at a national title?

For all its detractors and naysayers, the BCS system did its job. It identified the top two teams in all of college football using a formula made up of different pieces of information and measurements. One can find fault with the different components in the formula itself, but in the end, the BCS did what it was created to do. Now instead of two teams, the playoff selection committee will be tasked with identifying the top four teams, while also defending their reasoning for not picking the other 120. No pressure, right?

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