PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Will an untested, undefeated team get a shot at the title instead of a one-loss team with tougher competition? Can a team finish No. 1 in the polls and still not make it to the championship game? Is the winner of this year's college football championship the real champion?
Fortunately for everyone involved, these dumb questions and more should fade away with the Bowl Championship Series when it ends after this season.
The BCS seemed like a fine idea in the early 1990s, when coaches and sportswriters' polls had picked two different teams as the "national champion." It was also, ideally, supposed to give mid-major teams a shot at college crown against larger-higher profile competitors.
As we're all painfully aware, the BCS did none of the above. College football divided its national championships again in 1997 -- when an early, crude form of the BCS was in place -- and in 2003, when Louisiana State and the University of Southern California were each named the best team in the country in the coaches' and Associated Press polls. It eventually required intervention and assistance from Congress to get college football to agree to the four-team playoff system being implemented in 2014-15.
From the perspective of fans, schools and the businesses and sponsors surrounding college football, nobody is going to miss the BCS.
That became abundantly clear in November 2012, when ESPN (DIS) agreed to a 12-year deal to broadcast the college football playoffs. It will be paying $475 million per year for television, radio and online rights those games and will shell out even more to air the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and Orange Bowl in Miami during years when they're not in the playoff rotation. The deal also gives the network the right to air three "host bowls" featuring conference champions and at-large teams, with the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas, and the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, slated to be those bowl sites.
Considering ESPN was paying a relatively scant $155 million per year for rights to the BCS bowls and championship from 2009 until this year -- and Fox (FOXA) was paying $82.5 million a year for the BCS Championship, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar bowls before then, ceding the Rose Bowl to ABC for more than $30 million a year -- broadcasters aren't going to miss lackluster championship matchups and blowouts one bit. Judging from the ad numbers, the playoff can only help matters.
As big-money sporting events go, the BCS Championship still has some catching up to do. Back in 2011, 30-second spots during the BCS title game went for $750,000 apiece, according to Kantar Media. That's little more than half of the $1.2 million similar ads fetched during the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship and well shy of what the $1.3 million to $1.4 million could charge just for the AFC and NFC title games, never mind the $3.5 million they took in that year per 30-second Super Bowl commercial.