One of the biggest changes to the BCS system with the addition of a new 4-team playoff is that there is no limit on the number of teams from one conference making it to the post-season (per Joe Schad of ESPN).And while the playoff is a blessing, it could lead to even more shady practices by the individual conferences.
Under the current BCS format, no more than two* teams from any conference can participate in the BCS bowls in a given year. This was designed to protect the big conferences and make sure that the money was more evenly distributed to all of the schools.
But now the goal is to just make sure the best four teams are in football’s final four.
Unfortunately, this could lead to conference’s stacking schedules to protect their best teams. The more undefeated teams at the end of the season, the more teams that conference could have in the playoff. And more teams in the playoff will mean more money for the conference as a whole.
And no conference is better suited to stack the schedules than the SEC, which has dominated the college football landscape in recent years, and will only get stronger with the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri.
The Big 10 will never get rid of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. But that game makes it less likely that both schools will play in the playoff in the same seasons. On the other hand, the SEC will have less of a problem having LSU, Bama, and Florida (for example) avoid each other during the regular season. The result could be a playoff with three or four teams from one conference.
So while the system is getting better, it is still ripe for corruption.
* There is a scenario in which three teams can be selected under the current rules. If the two teams in the championship game are from the same conference, but neither is the conference champion, the third school will still receive that conference’s automatic bid.
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