The road to a college football playoff has officially hit the skids over the last two weeks, and the AP's Jim Delany has a detailed write up covering the different problems facing the AD's and Presidents at this time. And certainly, one thing appears to be clear: The SEC and Big 12 are on one side with the Big Ten and Pac 12 on the other.
The showdown could get ugly.
It did produce reports of a standoff, with the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 on one side and the Big Ten and Pac-12 on the other. Fans started to worry the four-team playoff which once seemed inevitable after April meetings in Florida had fallen into jeopardy.
Talk of a "plus-one" format, which would not create national semifinals but instead pick the championship game participants after the major bowls are played, had seemingly crept back into the conversation.
The story, which I encourage you to read, essentially boils down this standoff to two simple principles. The Big 12 and SEC want a four team playoff, with the top four ranked teams included. The PAC 12 and Big Ten want a Plus One, or a playoff where the conference champions qualify, not the top four teams.
While the detracting conferences aren't being totally contrarion at this point, they are insisting that they will present every option to their presidents, no matter what the consensus is, in an effort to steer the decision away from the top 4 playoff model.
This is where things could get ugly. It is a fair assumption that that Presidents will support their ADs no matter what the national consensus is, and if Larry Scott decides to put his feet down and protest there is a real likelihood of not being able to come to a compromise. Ultimately, this means no playoff.
Here is where my logical mind loses track of this madness: The conferences have to square four basic principles:
- The conference slate and championship games must be relevant.
- The conference schedule must still be incredibly important.
- Every conference must have some type of route into the playoff, not just the top four.
- The conferences must agree on a way to limit dominance by one specific league, IE: No more than two teams from one single conference.
Immedietly, you can cross off the plus one. What a failed model that would be, an incredible waste of time. Next, you can cross off the "four conference champions" theory, as it excludes other conferences. Now, an argument could be made that if, for instance, a non "Playoff Conference" team was ranked higher than a conference champion they could qualify, but the coaches will never agree to this. Imagine a #20 Florida upsetting a #1 LSU in the SEC Championship game and keeping both teams out of the playoff because the Big East has #14 ranked Rutgers sitting and waiting. You have essentially nullified the point of having a playoff.
So, we come to the "top four ranked teams" theory. I find this the most acceptable theory, as winning your conference championship will effect your ranking and thus your placement in the playoff. But, I think two factors would have to be addressed:
- No more than two teams per conference can make the playoff.
- The ranking system must become more inclusive. (BCS Computers, Harris, AP, Coaches)
Ultimately, the PAC 12 and Big Ten hate this model because it makes it easier for the MWC/Big Easts of the world to get into the dance and only makes it harder for their conferences to get into the final four. BUT, if you are trying to be totally fair, this is the only way (in my eyes) to make a four team playoff work (I would rather see an 8 team playoff).
But, when was this ever about "fairness," all that matters is money. And, if you slice the pie too many times, people get angry. And you don't want to see DeLoss angry.