College football playoff could prove trickier than thought
As is usual this time of year, my obsession with a college football playoff got me thinking.
I was all set to write a quick little "On Deck" about how great the matchups would have been this year.
Then as I figured those matchups out, I realized that a playoff would have been just as flawed as the current system.
When advocates toss around what a playoff would look like, it usually involves eight teams - the six winners from the "power conferences" and two at-large teams.
This year, the six major conference winners were Oregon, Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati and Georgia Tech. Florida, a team that's only loss came to the current No. 1 team, would have to be in. So that would leave one spot for Texas Christian and Boise State, both undefeated out of mid-major conferences.
Upon realizing this, I feel kind of like those scientists who tweaked their research to strengthen their claim. Maybe I could just leave out that Georgia Tech would get an automatic bid. No one would realize.
But the best way to make an argument isn't that your way is perfect, it's just better. And a playoff certainly is.
Obviously a playoff is a great system - it's why every sport on the planet uses one, except college football. It's just finding the right playoff that strikes the balance of fairness and profitability that the NCAA is looking for.
And that doesn't seem to exist.
We've seen the problem with the eight-team playoff as described above. An undefeated team would still be left out. You could give undefeated teams automatic births in lieu of conference champs that are low in whatever formula the NCAA uses to figure out the playoff rankings - probably very similar to the current BCS formula. But that would jeopardize the cash flow of the major conferences, so that plan is out.
You could do a larger playoff, say 10 teams as not to go overboard, and give byes to the top two. But that adds a fourth week anyway, so you might as well just go to 16 teams - that would still take four weeks to play, so the more the merrier.
Four weeks isn't too terribly long, but that's the advantage of the eight-team playoff - it doesn't eat too much time up and gives athletes more time to study for finals. And by that, I mean it gives schools the chance to say it gives them more time to study for finals.
Plus, that takes away another eight teams from the pool of teams for existing bowls - likely consolation prizes for those not in the playoff.
For the NCAA to accept a playoff - other than if mandated by the government, and we know how (a) likely that is to happen and (b) well it will go over on the off chance it does - it would have to be a simple system. Eight teams was nice, small, and didn't take away too much from the current bowls.
Two weeks ago, I never could have conceived I'd be against a college football playoff. And while I'm not there yet, I'm beginning to see it may not be as rosy as we thought.