LITTLE ROCK — Any change in the Bowl Championship Series will be imperfect, an assumption that reflects the nature of the beast.
Get over the nitpicking and get on with the major revisions.
Prior to the 2014 season, something new should be in place and a four-team playoff is the most likely winner. For some, four teams won’t be enough. The No. 5 team will complain. Last year, that was Oregon, a loser early to LSU and a loser late to USC. If eight teams are included, No. 9 will whine. Last year, that was South Carolina. Ordinary against Arkansas, no way the Gamecocks should have been in a playoff. No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 Boise State, and No. 8 Kansas State had their chances.
Four is enough and adds only one game to the season. There should be no obligation to conference champions; simply trust the computers to digest the various numbers and spit out the top four.
The real quandary is where to play the semifinals and finals and whether BCS bowl sites can be used in the championship rotation while retaining the other BCS games. Currently, 10 teams participate in BCS games, including the national championship. Each year, one of the four bowl sites doubles up — this year it was New Orleans with Michigan vs. Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3 and Alabama vs. LSU six days later.
The thing to do is broaden the BCS to six sites. A pitch for including the Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in any expansion of the BCS has been made previously. For the record, weather was cited as the reason for excluding the Cotton Bowl almost 20 years ago. Off the record, the antiquated Cotton Bowl Stadium was the culprit.
The most spectacular sports venue in the country, Cowboys Stadium is a natural to be BCS site No. 5.
For geographical balance and airline accessibility, how about Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for No. 6. Home of an NFL team, the stadium was built in 1998 and is rich with theater-style seats. There are also more than 12,000 club seats and 195 luxury suites, plenty of opportunities to gouge corporate sponsors and wealthy fans.
The Outback as a BCS bowl may ring hollow, but the designation will be accepted if the money and exposure are on par with that of the Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta.
In the dark ages, the first three and the Cotton were on a pedestal. The Fiesta didn’t come into existence until 40 years ago and only then out of frustration that Western Athletic Conference champions Wyoming one year and Arizona State the next were unable to secure bowl bids in the late 1960s. It was the mid-70s before the Fiesta was able to attract Big Eight co-champion Nebraska.
With the addition of the Cotton and the Outback, the BCS would have a three-site rotation with stadiums out West, in the middle of the country, and in Florida. One group could include Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Tampa and the other group could include Tempe, Arlington, and Miami.
The groupings would participate in the playoff for three years and then return to BCS bowl status. During a rotation, each site would have two semifinal games and one final. Meanwhile, the other three sites would host major bowl games, meaning that 10 teams would still participate in BCS games.
The variety of sites might also alleviate some of the concern that two groups of fans will travel great distances twice during a playoff. Last year, for instance, No. 1 LSU would have played in Florida or in the mid-section of the country. The year before, Auburn would have been sent to the nearest site and Oregon would have stayed out West for the first game.
Conference tie-ins and other details can be worked out. This plan is strictly big picture.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.