Virginia Tech lost one football game in 2000 — at No. 3 Miami with Michael Vick sidelined by an ankle injury. The Hokies' reward: a meaningless Gator Bowl against a 16th-ranked Clemson team that dropped its ACC finale to Florida State by 47 points.
One of the four options in play for a new postseason structure might well have propelled that 2000 Virginia Tech squad into a national semifinal against No. 1 Oklahoma.
Similarly, under two of the plans, the 2007 Hokies could have met Oklahoma or LSU in a national semi rather than Kansas in the Orange Bowl.
We'll parse the four plans in a moment, but first a general observation: Come the 2014-15 academic year, college football's postseason almost certainly will be better than at present.
Given that college football has the worst postseason in all of sports, that's damning with faint praise. But after 14 years of the Bowl Championship Series, we'll take what we can get.
As first discovered last week by USA Today snoop Steve Wieberg, conference commissioners are noodling four options that would bring varying degrees of change. None is radical enough for my nuke-the-bowls tastes, but when an obstructionist such as Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany appears amenable, it's wise to strike before he reverts to form.
As Buffalo Springfield sang about issues far more paramount: "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear."
Here are the plans, in the order listed on the BCS document obtained by Wieberg. A decision is expected this summer.
* An adjusted BCS. The maddening formula would remain, absent automatic qualifiers and with all games played nearer to New Year's Day.
Reaction: Still, only one postseason game among dozens would matter. We can, and should, do far better.
* The plus-one model. Select the teams for the national championship game after, rather than before, the bowls.
Reaction: This would create championship stakes in two, three or perhaps four bowls as teams hoped to impress whatever pollsters, computers or committee members might choose the title-game contestants. Again, the sport's braintrust can do better. But like politicians, college football's leadership disappoints far more often than it delivers.
* A four-team playoff, or, "event," as the hilariously paranoid BCS memo calls it — heaven forbid they use the "p" word.
The three games could be folded into the bowls or played independently — bet Jerry Jones would bid a bundle o' millions to host a game(s) at his suburban Dallas playpen. Semifinals could be staged at neutral or campus sites. The championship game would remain at a neutral venue.
Had this system been used in 2007, ACC champion Virginia Tech, which finished third in the BCS standings, likely would have joined Ohio State, LSU and Oklahoma in the national semifinals.
Reaction: Bring it on. A four-team event — wink — is too exclusive, but we'll just have to rely on future leaders' good sense to expand the format.
* Four teams plus. This option is tailored strictly for the pretentious Rose Bowl and its traditional Big Ten-Pacific 12 matchup.
So if no Big Ten or Pac-12 teams were among the top four, the semifinals and final would proceed as in the four-team playoff. If the champions of either conference (or both) were among the top four, they still would play in the Rose Bowl, with teams ranked No. 5, or Nos. 5 and 6, replacing them in the semifinals.
Following the Rose Bowl and two semifinals, two of the three winners would be selected to play in a championship game.
This formula would have most affected Virginia Tech in 2000. The Hokies finished fifth in the BCS standings behind Oklahoma, Florida State, Miami and Washington, and would have replaced Washington in a semifinal, while the Huskies competed in the Rose Bowl.
Reaction: If college football can survive the end of annual rivalries such as Oklahoma-Nebraska and Texas-Texas A&M, it could withstand the occasional Rose Bowl without the Big Ten and/or Pac-12 champs. Heck, it happened two seasons ago, when Pac-12 (then Pac-10) winner Oregon qualified for the BCS title game against Auburn, leaving the Rose with undefeated Mountain West champion Texas Christian playing the Big Ten's Wisconsin.
But if given the choice between capitulation to the Rose Bowl and the status quo, hand me the white flag.
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