San Jose, Calif.--On Monday the 10 conference commissioners (plus AD Jack Swarbrick of Notre Dame) that make up the College Football Playoff committee will meet before the national championship game between Alabama and Clemson.
Given all that has happened in this college football season, it is safe to say that the possibility of expanding the four-team playoff will be discussed.
Now we can’t get you a seat in the meeting but we can lay out the most cogent arguments for and against an eight-team college football playoff.
Writing in favor of keeping the playoff just as it is will be Tony Barnhart, a.k.a., Mr. College Football.
Providing the counterpoint, as only he can do, will be none other than A Jersey Guy, Mark Blaudschun.
Here we go:
MR. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: The main reason we won’t have an eight-game college football playoff is that we DON’T’ NEED IT. We are currently wrapping up the fifth year in a 12-year contract. We have what are clearly the two best teams playing Monday night for the national championship.
So what’s the problem, Jersey Guy? Some people (Ohio State, Georgia) get their feelings hurt and you want to blow up the whole system? Give me a break.
Did you watch the semi-finals on Dec. 29? If 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 gave us less-than-exciting games, you want to have 1 vs. 8 and 2 vs. 7?
A JERSEY GUY: Hey, Mr. CFB. How about taking a look at the world beyond the SEC (and we all know that Clemson is more of an SEC team than Vanderbilt or Missouri).
Under an 8-team plan nothing would change from the past week, EXCEPT instead of having games on the third week of December between Alabama and UCF, Clemson and Washington Notre Dame and Ohio State and Oklahoma and Georgia, we were served these bowl “treats:" Louisiana vs. Tulane, North Texas vs. Utah State, Arizona State vs. Fresno State and Eastern Michigan vs. Georgia Southern (which most likely would draw a bigger rating from Mr. CFB’s support group.)
You could have had those games, plus the semifinals that you had last weekend and probably the same championship game match up.
But Mr. CFB and his fans want more games like the Cheez-it Bowl between Cal and TCU.
MR. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Funny. Look, there are so many unintended consequences to an eight-team playoff. Let’s start here. When and where would you play the quarterfinal games (round of eight)?
The earliest you could play them would be the third Saturday of December, two weeks after the conference championship games. This year that would have been on Dec. 15. Did you know that Alabama’s Fall commencement was on Dec. 15 this year? Does the school change its fall graduation for an on-campus football game? Are you going to make that call to the Alabama president? Will you get Nick Saban to make that call?
A JERSEY GUY: Fall graduation in Tuscaloosa? Is that like leaf peeping in New England. Give me a break. You are talking about four on campus sites at places where college football is bigger than any “Fall graduation.’’
And I’m sure Alabama president Dr. Stuart Bell (did YOU know his name Mr. CFB?) will turn down a check for about 10 million dollars from CFB head honcho Bill Hancock (which is only a small projection of the money that TV would produce to have an expanded playoff system.
Fall graduation? Please.
MR. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Okay, Jersey Guy. You seem to have this hang-up with fairness. You want to make sure that every child gets a participation trophy. That’s awfully sweet of you but I’d rather have the best teams in the playoff. This should be about rewarding excellence rather than making sure all the snowflakes feel good about themselves.
But you want to guarantee that everybody in the Power Five gets a slot in the playoffs for winning their conference. How egalitarian. Especially for a guy from Jersey. How are you going to keep an 8-5 Northwestern who just happens to win the Big Ten championship game, out of the playoff?
A JERSEY GUY: Wait I must have missed something. Did Northwestern beat Ohio State?
Fairness. Yeah, who was it that said that “that this will never happen again on m watch when Auburn (what league) was squeezed out of a BCS title slot. Oh, that was the late, great SEC commissioner Mike Slive) who was aghast when the SEC wasn’t invited to the last big dance of the season.
The problem with the CFB playoff system is that there are 4 slots and five Power 5 conference schools. Yeah, that makes sense. All I’m saying is that EVERY power 5 conference is guaranteed a slot. How that slot is determined is up to the conference.
And, oh yes, with 8 teams the SEC wouldn’t have to hear the whining from guys like Rankman (another smaller is better proponent) about an unequal amount of conference games.
With every conference guaranteed a slot the SEC could cut its number of conference games from 8 to five and set up more challenges such as Alabama vs. The Citadel and Georgia vs. UMass.
MR. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: You have suggested that the highest ranked champion in The Group of Five be given one of the eight spots in the playoff. I’m not really excited about it but I’m willing to let the G5 in if they meet a certain set of criteria (like a top 12 ranking by the committee).
Why should those guys automatically in? It’s one thing to guarantee them a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl, which is the case now. It’s another thing entirely to just GIVE them a spot in the playoffs. So 8-4 Boise State, the No. 8 seed, gets to open the playoffs at No. 1 Alabama? Now that should be riveting.
A JERSEY GUY: Yeah , you got me on that one. Why have Appalachian State vs. Michigan or Virginia Tech vs. ODU on schedules.
Upsets are part of sports. And if an 8-4 Boise State is the best Group of 5 team with an 8-4 record, let them take on one of the big boys. It’s a “learning’’ experience, which is what school is about, isn’t it?
MR. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: The biggest complaint I have about the whole discussion is this idea that we should sacrifice every element of college football for the sake of the playoffs.
Well I have news for you, Jersey Guy. One sport has already made this mistake: It’s called college basketball.
Other than Durham, N.C., Chapel Hill, N.C., Lawrence, Kansas, and Lexington, Ky., not a whole lot of people care about regular season college basketball. It’s all about the NCAA Tournament.
We’ve already got a bunch of guys skipping bowls and that number will only increase as we expand the playoffs. You can take that to the bank.
But hey, anything for the playoff, right?
A JERSEY GUY: You need a break Mr. CFB. You are losing steam. “Sacrificing every element of college football?’’
You got to be kidding me. An 8-team playoff makes the regular season even more important because there are two AT-LARGE slots, which means that a team like an Alabama can make it into the playoffs when it doesn’t win its championship game.
When was the last time the Tide won a title through the side door? Oh was that last season
Two Power 5 conferences will almost always have their second best team make the field.
MR. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Thanks for a spirited discussion Jersey Guy. As long as you admit that I'm right and you're wrong, we can end this on a happy note.
A JERSEY GUY: The defense rests.