Is a Plus One on the Horizon?

Last night, the University of Alabama football team rectified its only loss of the season, beating LSU, and as a result was crowned the national champion of college football. While The Tide are certainly a worthy champion, there were many other one-loss teams in the nation, a few of which could claim that they were, in some way, cheated by the system. For one, Oklahoma State has a legitimate gripe; unlike Alabama, it at least won its conference. Another one-loss team from a less glamorous conference than either 'Bama or OK State is Boise State, a program which can say 'been there, done that' three or four times over when it comes to big game snubs.

While it seems highly unlikely that the top division of college football will move to a full-blown playoff system in the forseeable future (despite the fact that lower division have made it work), it is possible that a plus-one format will soon be adopted. Essentially, the winner of the top two bowl matchups would go head to head to settle the question of who the best team is. Though some teams might still be left on the outside in such a format (five teams had one loss this year), it would, in most years, go some way toward alleviating some of the problems which have arisen under the current format.

While the BCS system is encumbered by contractual obligations, and many structural issues would need to be ironed out, the appetite for change, both among fans and administrators, is at an all-time high. Add to this some recent antitrust attention from the US government, and the time is ripe for a new format to be adopted. While there is no doubt that this will open a new box of troubles, it is also clear that the system as constructed has run its course.

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