As the first rankings from the playoff committee are to be released tomorrow, it's time to look at what the Playoff has done for college football this season. There were some people (similar to the renegade Japanese soldiers on some Pacific Islands still fighting World War II 30 years after it had ended), who believed that the death of the BCS also meant the death of the meaning of college football's regular season. Hopefully, those people have found their good hiding spots again.
This college football season has been the most exciting that I personally have ever seen. That might have something to do with the rise of Mississippi State and Ole Miss from nowhere to become powers in the SEC, or maybe it's because Maryland football is somewhat relevant for the first time in about a decade, but mainly it's because of the playoff's ever looming presence. Even as we know so little about it, including how the committee members will think and decide who they deem are the 4 best teams in college football, it still hangs over us like the fog in San Francisco every morning.
The playoff has meant teams have started scheduling bigger out of conference matchups than ever before, and even if those come 7 years in the future, the big games this year still have a hold, such as the Michigan State-Oregon game from September, or even some of Notre Dame's games such as the one against Florida State and the looming one with Arizona State. It's also meant that one loss is by no means killer to a season, which under the BCS system one loss was next-to-always fatal.
If the BCS still existed, the rankings would have spat out the obvious: Mississippi State and Florida State are on a path to play each other for the National Title unless one of them loses, which then would bring about chaos. But who of the many one-loss teams would be deserving of playing an undefeated Florida State... or would the Seminoles deserve it at all based on their cakewalk of a schedule? The debate would be furious, and eventually meaningless, seeing as the decision was almost completely out of the hands of any human beings. The Playoff has opened up the debate even further, but the lack of clarity has meant that every game is even more important than before.
The murkiness of picture has meant that every game means even more than normal, and gave teams that had early season hiccups like Ohio State, Michigan State and Oregon chances of rebounding and reviving their chances of going to the playoff. Even if they don't make it, there are still 4 prestigious bowl games for them to play in and very likely a great team there to meet them. Everyone's list of who the 4 best teams are looks dramatically different, and for good reason because nobody knows anything for sure heading into November, and that just adds to the drama. With the BCS, the path would at least have been somewhat clear barring absolute 2007-like chaos and insanity.
Even as the rankings are released tomorrow, they essentially mean little because there are 6 more weeks of football to play. Who knows whether the Bulldogs of Starkville will still hold the fort down, or whether maybe Baylor or Michigan State gets back in the race because of the craziness above them... and that's the glory of it.
Who said the College Football Playoff was going to diminish the meaning of the regular season? If you can find them, they're probably holed up in some Mariana Island trench thinking the BCS is still king.
Or maybe they're still commenting that Condoleeza Rice has clear PAC-12 bias.
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