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College football playoff: the new era of college football explained

The 2014 season marks the beginning of the college football playoff era.
The 2014 season marks the beginning of the college football playoff era.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The 2014 college football season is underway and the BCS is thankfully no more. College football fans are rejoicing everywhere. The controversial computer-based ranking system (the BCS), which was used from 1998-2013, will no longer select the teams that will participate in the national championship. Instead, a 14 person selection committee will choose four teams to participate in a playoff. The winners of the two semi-final games will meet with the national championship on the line. This marks the beginning of a new and exciting era for one of the most popular sports in the country.

Who is in the committee?

The selection committee is comprised of Jeff Long (chair), Mike Gould, Barry Alvarez, Condoleezza Rice, Pat Haden, Oliver Luck, Tom Jernstedt, Mike Tranghese, Tom Osborne, Dan Radakovich, Steve Wieberg, Tyrone Willingham, and Archie Manning. These are respected names all connected to college football in one way or another. It's an eclectic group athletic directors, former coaches, student-athletes, journalists and one avid fan (Rice).

Why did this change occur?

It simply had to. Year after year in the BCS era quality teams were edged out of a chance at the national championship without explanation. With a selection committee, actual human beings will be held accountable for their decisions. Thus, the truly deserving teams will undoubtedly get their chance to play for the championship. College football risked further damage to its brand if it didn't make this change. Its national champions were often disputed and the system continually left a sour taste in the mouths of football fans (and in some cases still does). This new system is much more fair and vastly more exciting. One of the country's favorite sports just added playoffs; everyone is going to be watching. In a world driven by money imagine how much will be made with these three games alone. You can bet that the potential revenue weighed heavily into getting this new system in place. These factors combined to force this change to happen and college football fans couldn't be happier.

What does this change?

Everything. College football will never be the same -- for the better. Instead of just two teams getting a chance at the national championship, four teams will get to battle it out. College football was the only highly popular in the country that decided its champion without playoffs, but not anymore. The teams will not be announced until after the regular season has been completed. Which means that all teams will, technically, be in the race until the the committee makes its announcement. Every team every year can now dream of a championship, unlike in the BCS era. The regular season will be much more fun for the fans to watch, too. With a human selection committee to impress, instead of a computer to appease, high-profile teams are scheduling other powerhouse programs to play in their non-conference schedule. Instead of the nation's top teams scheduling lesser teams that they'd blow out, more competitive and nationally relevant games are being scheduled with regularity.

Who benefits from the college football playoff?

Everyone. The sport itself will raise in popularity as it can market an actual playoff system to go along with its already immensely popular 'bowl season.' The fans will enjoy the season more thoroughly knowing that there is a more fair system in place to help decide the national champion. The teams and players benefit by knowing that the participants in the championship game will be decided on the field and not by a questionable computer system. Not to mention, they'll get to play in more high-profile games and gain more exposure throughout the entire season -- not just at the end. The only qualm about the new college football playoff that some people have is that it only includes four teams. But I believe this to be the first step toward an eventual eight team playoff. Of course that is only speculation, mind you. Either way this is a huge step in the right direction for college football in every way imaginable. If it is always 'just' a four team playoff the sport is still way better off than it was only a year ago.

Now that you know why there's a new system and how it works, there's nothing to do but enjoy the season.