By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) So, major college football is finally getting a playoff.
Now, can it get a new name, too?
Or, actually, how about we just revert back to the old one… eh?
On Thursday, news broke that the BCS commissioners are now backing a playoff plan that would involve the sites for the national semifinals to rotate among the major bowl games and would include a selection committee to pick the teams.
The proposal will be presented to university presidents next week for approval, and once they sign off (they’re expected to) major college football’s champ will be decided by a four-team playoff beginning in 2014.
All of this makes me wonder if we’ll soon start calling the nation’s fifth- and sixth-ranked schools “bubble teams” and are about to spawn a new breed of pigskin bracketologists. But, mainly, it makes me wonder what we’ll be calling major college football itself.
Because we can’t exactly stick with the status quo.
Until 2007, as you might recall, major college football was referred to as Division I-A (“One-A”), while the next tier of football-playing schools were referred to as I-AA (“One-Double-A”).
It was simple, it was snappy and it was perfectly clear.
But then, just like they so often do, the wonks running college athletics had to go and muck things up.
In ’07, in an effort to apparently make the smaller schools feel less like second-class institutions – did, say, Harvard, Princeton and Yale really ever feel that way? – the NCAA brain trust decreed that Division I football would now be split into the Football Bowl Subdivision (I-A, which uses bowl games as its postseason) and the Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA, which uses a playoff system for its postseason and crowns a true tournament champion).
And with that, we had the awkward acronyms “FBS” and “FCS” forced upon us as replacements for the simple “I-A” and “I-AA,” which – much like calling Willis Tower the Sears Tower – I still prefer to use.
I never understood what changing the names really accomplished, anyway, as I don’t believe football players have such fragile psyches that they were breaking down in tears at being called “I-AA.” If that’s true, then how do those poor Division III kids carry on at all?
I also am quite certain that sports fans aren’t so gullible that they suddenly thought that “FCS” meant a higher caliber of football.
But, as Associated Press college football writer Ralph D. Russo – his tongue firmly in cheek – put it before Week 1 of the 2007 season: “… When Louisville beats Murray State by about 40 Thursday night, remember the Cardinals aren’t playing a I-AA team, they’re playing an FCS team.”
My hope is that come 2014, when all classes of college football will employ some type of playoff format. that the NCAA will simply revert to its I-A and I-AA classifications. However, since college sports’ governing body has already deemed “I-AA” to be a supposed “second-class” label, I fear that it will not.
And, if that’s the case, then who knows what the NCAA will come up with. Heck, if the Big Ten has any say, we’ll probably be stuck the “Football Legends Series” and “Football Leaders Series,” and we’ll just call both “FLS.”
Since, you know, nobody could keep them straight anyway.
On Thursday, Bill Connelly a writer at SBnation.com published a piece about college football playoffs and also asked, “Can we just move back to 1-A and 1-AA please?”
Now, it actually was never was 1-A and 1-AA – with numerals. But, hey, perhaps using numbers is different enough from that oh-so-demeaning “I-AA” for the NCAA leaders to give it a green light.
I’m not sure that we can count on them to do better.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.