I think it all began when money started to become the primary motivation for college football. Before, it was an amateur endeavor. The universities themselves, TV, marketers and others all started to get in on the act.
Someone, maybe us fans included, began to get obsessed with this national champion thing. The national championship trophy used to be something they gave in the locker room at the Orange Bowl to whichever Florida team was playing that year. Now it's turned into an obsession all season long. I remember when some announcer was doing the 12th game of a team who had 11 wins that year. They were losing. He voiced, "These guys need to save their season" (as if an 11-1 season made them losers). It seems any team who is not undefeated is no good because "they blew their chance for a try for the national championship."
Also, the BCS came along. This was a major blow to the game. This method stretched the limits of statistics to attempt the impossible task of ranking over a hundred teams who only play 12-game seasons. The system does include computer programs, an attempt at legitimacy, but the most weight still comes from opinion polls. It also has trashed the traditional bowl system.
The BCS ranking process is an interesting creature. In general, it is a combination of a sports writers' poll, a coaches' poll, and several computerized statistical programs. Things were going along fine with this process until the middle 2000's when a popular school complained about the outcome that year regarding not being picked for the big game. The BCS addressed the problem by giving more weight to the polls in the formula and less to the computerized programs, thereby reducing what statistical legitimacy the process did have. It also handles upsets poorly. If, for example, the number one team during the majority of the season gets upset by the 20th team, the system doesn't seem to know what to do. From a purely statistical standpoint, and I use statistically very loosely here, the rankings arrived at the week before this game were incorrect. The 1st place team was mis-ranked, because it was not number one. But they don't automatically switch the two teams, instead, they lower the 1st a few and raise the 20th a few. So the weight given to the winner of a head-to-head match-up is only significant some of the time.
And then there is league hopping. Teams are jumping all over the country to improve their chances of getting to the big game. Soon will we have, in addition to a championship game, a four-team playoff.In addition, the court decisions are starting to come in that grant college football players collective bargaining rights. College players may be getting overtime pay, health insurance, and a 401K plan when the upcoming labor negotiations take place.
Goodbye college football.