This morning, I had the opportunity to talk with Rece Davis from ESPN over the phone regarding college football and the sport's upcoming transition period. On Monday night, the BCS went out with a bang, providing us with one of the most thrilling games in its brief history. While Davis believed it was one of the best, the 2006 game between Texas and USC still takes the cake in his eyes.
"It was certainly among the best," said Davis. "I wouldn't rank it above Texas versus USC. It wasn't perfectly played, but the 4th quarter drama overshadowed it."
Davis said he believed it hovered somewhere around the second or third best BCS game ever, also noting Ohio State's upset win over Miami in 2003.
Now, college football enters a transition period as the BCS era comes to an and and the playoff era begins. Next year, a four-team playoff format will be introduced which will consist of two semi-championship games with the winner of each advancing to play for a national championship. Six bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton, Chick-fil-A) will rotate as semi-final hosts. During "off years" for four of the six bowl games, those bowls will be considered part of the "New Year's Six," with all six bowl games being played on or around New Year's Day. Davis also noted that this new format will restore the importance of playing on New Year's Day.
"I think that anytime you have more meaningful and compelling football, fans are going to enjoy that," said Davis. "The time is right to make the next step."
Of course, this transition means the end of the BCS drama that we witnessed each year of which teams were left out of which bowls. For Ducks fans, it seemed possible with some last minutes pieces falling into place that Oregon could actually sneak into either the Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl. When Alabama fell to the Sugar Bowl after their Iron Bowl misfortune, some Ducks fans believed the Sugar Bowl would ignore their future business deal with the Big 12 and choose Oregon over Oklahoma. In the end, it was the Sooners who would go on to the Sugar Bowl, providing us with a thrilling upset over Alabama.
"All the BCS was designed to do was to get together 1 and 2," said Davis. "Business choices are viable reasons."
Davis illustrated the point by explaining that if he was going into a business relationship with an entity, he would be careful not to step on the toes of that entity and snub the partnership as a result. This is exactly the scenario we saw with the Sugar Bowl. Starting next season, the Sugar Bowl will pair up the top teams from the SEC and Big 23. Imagine how the conference would feel if the Sugar Bowl had kicked Oklahoma to the curb in favor of Oregon. What if the Ducks had gotten steamrolled by Alabama? The business relationship in this case would be tarnished before it had even begun.
Davis is excited to see the new level of excitement the playoff system will bring to fans, who are always craving for more football at the end of the day.
"I can't wait to see college football regain the dominance it had on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. How many people at the end of the BCS game wanted to see one more game? There's an appetite for more football. The playoff has the same build up and the same controversy."
Next year, instead of the nation's No. 3 team complaining about being left out of the championship, it will be the No. 5 team complaining about being left out of the playoff and having to "settle" for one of the other New Year's Six bowl games.
Davis is also currently in his fourth year as a member of the Advisory Board for the Capital One Cup, awarded annually to the nation's top NCAA Division I's men's and women's programs. The winning schools will be awarded a combined $400,000 in scholarship money for student athletes. Davis says its a great way to determine the best athletic programs in the nation and to reward them for their success with scholarship money for student-athletes who are able to use that money to get a quality education thanks to collegiate sports.
With the BCS era officially behind us, the countdown begins to the 2014 college football season. For those of you keeping track at home, we're at 234 days and counting before the Ducks return to Autzen Stadium to face South Dakota.