College Football Playoff Coming In 2014

A report this morning on says that the university presidents have approved a 4-team college football playoff system to be implemented in 2014. I have been waiting to see if that recommendation to the presidents would be approved to comment on the new system. A reader who lives in the San Diego area sent me to a column written by Nick Canepa in the San Diego Union-Tribune which had little good to say about the new system. When I read Nick Canepa’s columns, I tend to agree with him more often than I disagree with him. On this matter, I disagree completely.

From that column, here is the central portion of his objections:

“I’ve been waiting for a college football playoff since my first gray hair, and it wasn’t yesterday. This is not what I expected. It doesn’t cover enough ground. And it still allows more than one conference team (see the all-powerful SEC, which has won the past six titles) to make the Final Four without playing its way in. In that there will be a playoff selection committee similar to the NCAA Basketball Tournament, rest assured good teams are going to get left out.

“The complaints are not going to cease. What if there are five unbeaten teams? Or six?”

Here is why I think the 4-team playoff system is a good idea:

    1. Just as the BCS system – - flawed as it certainly is – - was an improvement over the previous way college football determined its “national champion”, this 4-team playoff is an improvement over the BCS. Even if it is not perfect, it is an improvement. If humankind let perfection stand in the way of progress and improvement, we would still be living in caves and I would be writing on cave walls with charcoal.

    2. In the NCAA Basketball tournament, it is possible for three teams from a conference to make it to the Final Four. [That happened the year Villanova beat Georgetown in the final game; St. John’s was in the Final Four too that year.] If two of the best teams in the country are from one conference, I have no problem with both of them being in the football playoffs.

    3. I will worry about the problem of 6 undefeated teams in a year once someone shows me that such a thing has happened more than one time in the last 50 years. I do not recall such a happenstance.

    4. My preference would have been an 8-team playoff but getting from 2 teams (the BCS model) to 4 teams is a step in the right direction; so, I am happy. I cannot recall a year when a horde of fans were outraged over the exclusion of more than a couple of teams from the national championship discussion. March Madness is a great event but the reality is that there are teams in the 68-team field that have exactly zero chance of winning the tournament. I do not think that should be the model for a football playoff.

I choose to disagree with Professor Canepa and those of his colleagues who think this is not a good idea for college football. The key element is the Selection Committee. My preference would be for the committee members to take on this responsibility as a close to full-time job from September until December watching tapes of all of the games for the 10 best teams in the country so that they can make an informed choice in December. What I would not like is for a series of computer programs to make the selections.

Here is one more thing that the Selection Committee will need to do in order to keep the conference mavens happy and to give columnists around the country something to vent about in December:

    By whatever means it takes, Boise State has to be ranked #5 in December and just miss out on the playoffs.

I have no idea which college football teams will emerge as the dominant teams this year, but I am confident that PAC-12 games should be fun to watch. Chip Kelly, Mike Leach, Rich Rodriguez and Jeff Tedford run four of the programs in that league; they will move the ball up and down the field. USC should have a potent offense again this year and Jim Mora Jr.’s arrival at UCLA could signal an emphasis on offense there too. Expect to see some “Over/Under Lines” for PAC-12 games in the high-60s or low-70s this year.

Another news story this morning reports that the NFLPA has sent a letter to the NFL demanding that the league look into the status of the negotiations between the Saints and Drew Brees because the NFLPA suspects that the Saints might not be bargaining in good faith with Brees. Clearly the backstory here is that Brees was one of the vocal player leaders during last year’s lockout and was one of the plaintiffs in the anti-trust suit filed against the league. There is plenty of intrigue to consider and to speculate about in this matter but there is one aspect here that seems not to be in the realm of the possible for the NFLPA:

    Since Drew Brees and the Saints have yet to reach a contract agreement, that can only mean that both sides have failed to arrive at a place where both sides are comfortable with the terms and conditions of the contract.

    In that situation, is it even possible that Drew Brees is the one who is not negotiating in good faith?

Finally, Chad Ochocinco tweeted that Roger Goodell would be fining him a lot of money this year as Chad plays in Miami. Prior to those tweets, Dwight Perry had this comment about his signing with the Dolphins in the Seattle Times:

“Chad Ochocinco’s decision: He’s taking his baggage to South Beach.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • Brian  On June 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I am less-than-impressed with this new format. Why is Division IA (I refuse to use the other term) the *ONLY* division of NCAA college football that doesn’t have a true playoff like the others? I know, I know, it has to do with the bowls and their tons of money.

    Oh, and there are already too many bowls (Humanitarian Bowl, International Bowl, Change-the-Sponsor-to-Someone-Else-Every-Year Bowl). Why can some of the older, already extant bowls be worked into a 16- or 24-team playoff, like the other NCAA football divisions?

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On June 28, 2012 at 8:43 am


      Your idea for a much larger football tournament could indeed be worked into a bowl-game system. And as more bowl games prove to be economically neutral at best, you may indeed see a movement in that direction.

      My problem is that the 24th best team in the country probably has a minimum of three losses on its record and stands the same chance of winning as does the Ivy League champ in March Madness. Yes, if a team seeded 20 or higher ever made a run in a football tournament – -even to get to the Football Final Four – - it would be a huge feelgood story. But I fear that you will have to sit through a lot of mismatches between the top three or four teams against the teams seeded 20 – 24.

      My preference is still for an 8-team playoff.

  • Tenacious P  On June 27, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I love the four-team format. That way, undefeated Brigham Young University can get their heads handed to them on a serving tray on nationa. l TV. Oh, but they were so good in the WAC Conference.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On June 28, 2012 at 8:38 am


      It was that BYU national championship that made folks realize that something other than a poll conducted by the AP and the UPI needed to exist.

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