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NCAA writer discusses potential playoff system

You hear that? It’s the collective cheering of collegiate
pigskin fans countrywide. Goodbye SEC dominance, so long
arbitrary computer rankings, and say hello to a fair and
balanced, conspiracy-free college football postseason.

But what would college football be with a little
controversy?

The four-team playoff announced Wednesday sparked debate
amongst the sport’s enthusiasts, including Sports
Illustrated and SI.com writer Stewart Mandel, who has
covered the sport since 1999. Mandel joined Arizona Sports
620’s Burns and Gambo Thursday to shed light on the
playoff system and how it came to be.

“The problem with [college football’s] current system is
that the voters don’t have to explain how they vote, and
all but one of the computer formulas are a secret,” said
Mandel.

The new playoff will consist of four teams decided by a
“selection” committee. These teams would then play in
semifinal games to determine who would play in the BCS
National Championship Game.

Where these semifinal games are played has yet to be
determined, but Mandel points to the current BCS bowls
being involved, meaning the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange and Rose
Bowls would all rotate as hosts in some fashion.

“I don’t know any specifics yet of that rotation or which
bowls will be involved in that rotation,” said Mandel. “I
think the current BCS bowls have a shot to be part of
that. Whether you get to host a semi-final every other
year or every third year, we just don’t know yet.”

This means the Rose Bowl, traditionally played between
champions of the Big Ten and Pac-12 conference, may
feature a team like LSU or Oklahoma in Pasadena.

Mandel explains this is one of the many reasons the Big
Ten conference is the loser in the decided playoff format.

“The Big Ten reluctantly joined this cause,” said Mandel.
“They’re doing it because the rest of college football
wants to.” He elaborates, stating the nature of bowl games
give Midwestern schools such as Ohio State and Michigan a
“geographic disadvantage”.

“Bowl games were designed to be a nice vacation for the
fans. They weren’t necessarily designed to determine a
national champion.”