I used to love New Year's
Day when I was a kid in the 1960's because of the college bowl lineup. There were four major bowl games
played back-to-back starting in the morning and ending with the Orange
Bowl from Miami in the evening. Some years, one or two games were of
significance in deciding the national title. But, many years there was a
huge question of who was number one and the issue could only be decided
after all of the games had been played. The greatest years were probably
1966, 1971 and 1978 with the domino upsets that led to Alabama, Nebraska
and Notre Dame’s national titles, respectively.
The bowl season was always
special at my house. My brother went to Notre Dame and, in the 1970's,
they were always in the discussion for the national title. It touched me very personally one year when a Notre Dame
fan, a family friend named Monte, cajoled my brother and I into coming to his house to watch
the Independence Bowl in 1997 between ND and LSU. We both sensed that
something was wrong and he would announce that night that he was going
to a Wichita, Ks hospital for tests. Within a few months, he had
passed on. I still wait for the next Notre Dame national championship so
I can toast him on the other side. That was the nature of our
relationship. It was defined by the love of the college game. And, my
God, was he a bowl lover. Football has always tied us all together. I saved a ton of
memorabilia, photos and data over the years and decided to compile it
into these pages for safekeeping.
The era of the bowls gave
way to the BCS, a system that was intended to narrow the season and the
national championship down to two teams through the use of the voter
polls, press polls and a computer rating system. For the most part, it
provided a match up that sufficed in selecting the true national
champion. Most years, there was no doubt at all that it provided a true
national champion. Of course, some years team were left on the outside
looking in. The real controversies arose, not over who was playing in
the national title game, The BCS Championship, but who earned the right
to be featured in one of the four big money BCS games. Those marques
match ups were vital to recruiting and national exposure. The BCS era
also became the era of the SEC. There is little doubt that the
SEC was certainly deserving of the title appearances and proved it on
the field with seven straight championships from 2007 through 2013.
with the 2014-2015 season, college football will finally enter
into the playoff era. A selection committee will choose what it
deems as the best four teams, who will be paired in semifinal
games on New Years Eve and New Years Day. The semifinal games
will rotate between six different traditional bowl game sites
(Orange, Rose, Sugar, Fiesta Cotton, Peach). The National
Championship will be played on a Monday night approximately one
week to ten days later. The rest of the bowls will continue to
be played as in the past.
The new playoff system will come close
to deciding the issue on the field. It is likely that the
playoff will expand to eight teams at some point in the future.
Sixteen may be too many. And, with the advent of the playoff and
future evolution it is less likely that a team with a realistic
chance to win it all will be left out in the cold. A nice
feature of the current format is that it will certainly bring
focus back to New Years Eve and New Years Day. Something that
the BCS system diminished. Prior to the BCS, New Year's Day was
like Super Bowl Sunday in the hearts of Americans. Remember
Jerry Tagge plunging in over LSU in the Orange Bowl in 1971 to settle the
question after a grueling, long day of football upsets viewed live by millions across
the nation? However, in those days, there often was a team left out,
claiming that they were the true national champions. Fans
longed for one or two more games that could have truly decided
the issue. Finally, we will have that.
||The cries for a playoff go back decades.
One good example I pulled from Chris Schenkel's Sportscene
football annual of 1971. Click Here to read the article written
by written by Schenkel.