The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


June 29, 2012

LEVINE: New bowl system creates equality for teams

CLINTON — Periodically in this space I write about other things than chasing around my 2-year-old and since it’s too hot to think about a new development in my parenting life, I’m going with a topic that comes naturally to me — football.

Sure, it’s not even July and the temperatures are so high that my daughter even complains about the slide at the park being too hot, but it’s never too early to start thinking about cool, fall mornings, tailgating outside with family and friends, and enjoying an entire weekend’s worth of non-stop football. And when a major change happens in the middle of summer that will completely alter college football, I can justify writing about football just a little bit more.

University presidents on Tuesday agreed on a plan to conduct a Final Four-esque playoff in Division I college football starting in 2014. The move comes after years of passionate pleas from fans to institute something different from the BCS bowl system choosing a national champion.

However, unlike many fans of college football, I stood firm in a stance on not reducing the greatness of college football’s regular season with a playoff system featuring multiple teams. My argument then, and still now, is to take a look at college basketball. Their regular season is almost meaningless because virtually no one cares about the regular season and fans only tune into March Madness to see 68 teams attempt to earn a national championship.

College football’s uniqueness comes from a great regular season where every game matters. In college basketball, only March matters.

But after years of defending the BCS and bowl system, I came to a crossroads in 2008, when Oklahoma leapfrogged Texas to reach the national championship. Now I’m sure all my faithful readers remember my classic column from November 2008, but I wrote then about my displeasure with that decision.

Ever since then, I changed my mind (trust me, that doesn’t always happen) and backed a four-team playoff, which will now soon be instituted.

The new system will likely not affect either of the state teams since Iowa State has never come close to finishing in the top 4, and Iowa would have been considered once in 2002. But this new way of crowning a national champion is the fairest and best way to keep the regular season from being marginalized by an overabundance of teams receiving invites to a postseason for a trophy.

This format also will keep the bowl structure in place, which is a good thing for fans and players. There are definitely too many bowls, but for the most part, the postseason games award teams and mostly fans with an opportunity for a vacation, all the while watching one more football game. Fans enjoy the bragging rights provided by big-name bowls and teams get some national exposure that isn’t always prevalent during the regular season.

I’m still not sold on a selection committee choosing the teams for the four-team playoff. While the NCAA basketball tournament generally does a good job of picking the right teams, there have been plenty of squads deserving of a spot in the tournament, only to not hear their name mentioned on selection Sunday. By using a formula like the BCS, onlookers are kept informed of what everyone needs to do to get into the championship round, and surprises will be limited.

And there’s no doubt there will still be controversy. Once again, just take a look at the basketball tournament to see why that statement is true. The 69th team in the field always feels slighted, even though they obviously didn’t do enough to get into the Big Dance. Any team on the bubble didn’t do enough and shouldn’t have much room to complain, even though it happens every year without fail.

But with the college football system, there’s a lot less difference between No. 4 and 5, than 68 and 69. There are plenty of years where three teams should be in the discussion, while other times five of six teams could vie for the final spot. And then there will be times when two teams have clearly deserved to be the only representatives in the national title game, only to have to go through one more opponent. In the end, though, the university presidents did something they had to do. A playoff needed to be created. Now, I hope they don’t mess it up by adding even more teams.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at

Text Only
  • 'Case Day' inspires students to aim high There's an MRCTV video circulating on the Internet that features a man with a microphone asking college students in Washington, D.C., to name just one member of the United States Senate. At least half a dozen are stumped. When he asks how many senato

    April 16, 2014

  • 4-15-14 13-Photo, Masters Bubba more than local hero? AUGUSTA, Ga. -- He plays a sexy game of golf, owns two green jackets and -- in what constitutes a show of major respect in these parts --Bubba Watson made rabid Georgia Bulldog fans take a break from spring football to watch some golf this weekend. A

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Leonard Pitts mug ...and this is Overkill News Network Enough, already. Please, for the love of Cronkite: Give us a break from the missing plane. Yes, we all wonder what happened to it. Yes, our hearts go out to the families seeking resolution. But really, CNN ... enough. Put your hands up and step away

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • If I can do it... If I can do this, you can also do this. What I would like to tell you about is being a volunteer driver for the Veterans Administration. I am retired from the electrical trade. I worked as an electrician for 36 years. When I took my retirement some t

    April 15, 2014

  • Allie Kibler mugshot YWCA camp offers fun for kids Each month YWCA members and volunteers are featured highlighting the many facets of our community in which they're a part of. This month, YWCA Youth Director, Allie Kibler shares information on this summer's YWCA Fun in the Sun Summer Camp program. T

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Could LBJ do as much today? Fifty years later, it's hard to imagine the enactment of the Civil Rights Act by today's polarized Congress. Maybe, as the old saying goes, today's fighting is so vicious because the stakes are so small. We Americans fight less among ourselves when w

    April 14, 2014

  • Retiring CCC instructors praise college's growth, direction After more than 35 years of service to Clinton Community College, we would like to offer some pre-retirement observations about the college: its past, its present and its future. When we arrived at the college in 1976, it had already been transforme

    April 14, 2014

  • School funding still an ongoing topic The budget still has several hurdles to jump before it is finalized. Now the House has to reach a consensus and then if the House and Senate cannot agree, a conference committee would have to merge the two versions. Finally, the governor has to sign

    April 12, 2014

  • Meier Take a survey, win a cruise; not going to happen A Clinton woman called me last week to report on a phone call she received. She first received a call from a young woman, who asked her to take a short survey. It sounded innocent enough, so she agreed, and answered a few questions, none of which so

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Economic plan invests in Iowans Our work at the statehouse this week has been spent on the last few major budget bills. Since I serve as vice-chairwoman of the Economic Development Budget subcommittee, I have been focused on House File 2460. This bill funds small business developm

    April 12, 2014


Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

     View Results