Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bielema likes the new playoff system

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema sounded excited to be a part of college football history with the advent of a four-team playoff that will replace the BCS model beginning with the 2014 season.

Doing the simple math, though, he expressed the one obvious concern that is shared by all of his fraternity brothers in the coaching profession. There is a concern, you ask?

"Yeah, if I'm No. 5,'' he said, grinning. "Everybody used to talk about the No. 3 and No. 4 teams that didn't get to play for the championship. Now they're going to be talking about No. 5 and No. 6.

"I think it's probably legit to say that every year you're going to have teams that can play the excuse game on why they should be there.

"But to have four teams that will have a shot to win it all now is really cool.''

The Rose Bowl will not only be part of the six-bowl rotation for the two semifinal games, but it will be locked into a 4 p.m. (CST) kickoff on Jan. 1 through 2026 (Jan. 2 if New Year's Day is a Sunday).

The Tournament of Roses also announced Thursday that the Rose Bowl would continue to honor a Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup in those years that it's not playing host to a national semifinal.

That type of stability and/or continuity is priceless, Bielema pointed out.

"Of course, we're all a little biased,'' he conceded. "I've been there as a player and a coach. I know the Rose Bowl is a sacred, hallowed ground for college football, especially for the Big Ten.''

The new system will render polls virtually meaningless in their current form, thereby eliminating what has always been a healthy source of debate and controversy for fans, players and coaches alike.

The preseason polls, in particular, were problematic; especially from Bielema's viewpoint. The Badgers were off the radar in 2006, his first season; yet fought all the way back to a No. 5 final ranking.

"I was a new head coach with a new team and people had questions,'' he recalled. "But we finished 12-1 and I felt like we were a BCS (bowl) level team (that had to settle for something less).

"I've always been in favor of ranking teams later in the year because you have a chance then to truly find out who has good teams -- and it's not based on just good projections.''

College football is expected to adopt the NCAA's basketball model for a selection committee, which would include a collection of current athletic directors and league commissioners.

That would eliminate the importance of two BCS staples: the USA Today Coaches Poll and the Harris Poll. There have been reports, too, that the tweaked system will rank teams by tiers; another notable departure from the past.
Let's hope Bucky can make it in to the playoffs. 

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