Thursday, November 06, 2008

Secession Is The Only CFB Playoff Solution:
SEC, Big 12 Should Join Forces, Force Issue

Like President Barack Obama, would you like to see a college football playoff? Did you enjoy hearing Bob Stoops join the chorus -- led by the SEC -- lobbying for a playoff?

Time to re-pitch the only reasonable playoff solution, now expanded for more awesomeness:

First, let's stipulate that the Pac-10 and Big Ten adamantly refuse to -- and even actively obstruct -- a playoff. (Sorry, Pete Carroll and Joe Paterno: Take your problems up with your conference commissioners. Not our problem.)

Next, let's stipulate that the Big East and ACC each bring very little to the table.

Finally, let's get revolutionary: The SEC and Big 12 should secede from the BCS and set up their own playoff system -- 16 teams, 8 from each conference. Each group of 8 competes in a 3-game playoff to determine a conference champ. The two winners play for the national title.

It doesn't even infringe on the schedule. The conference playoff quarterfinals would be played the day of the traditional conference title games. The next Saturday would be the conference playoff semifinals. The Saturday after that would be the conference finals. Two Mondays later -- in 2009, January 5 -- would be the "Big 12-SEC title game" or, as it would be universally recognized, the national title game.

We'll see how fast the Pac-10 and Big Ten fold when their teams are shut out -- shut out of championship legitimacy (who would crown an unbeaten Pac-10 or Big Ten team over a team that ran a 4-game gauntlet of Big 12 and SEC playoffs?) and, ultimately, shut out of recruiting. The Big East and ACC would do anything to join in; resist the temptation -- look what their inclusion did to the BCS.

And it would be backed by TV money -- a lot of it. Imagine how much ESPN would pay.

And it doesn't hurt the existing bowl structure, which can continue to cherry-pick the playoff losers for Christmas Week and New Year's Day bowl games... except the two title-game finalists, which can meet in a game that rotates quadrennially between the new Dallas Cowboys stadium, the Edward Jones Dome, the Superdome and the Georgia Dome.

Watch how fast the rest of the country comes into line. The Big 12 and SEC would have to be willing to give up their 8 vs. 8 exclusive playoff in favor of a nationalized 16-team playoff. The rest of the country can guarantee a preponderance of the revenues to the founding two conferences (call them equity stake-holders) in exchange for the chance to be included.

If the Pac-10 and Big Ten want to continue to keep themselves out -- perhaps committing to the Rose Bowl -- more power to them. But let's be clear here: Given the option to join a playoff, they actively choose to take themselves out of it. That way, there are no complaints when the Rose Bowl champ finishes no higher than 3rd in the annual final polls.

Thoughts? I had previously created this theory as SEC-only, figuring the Big 12 was a natural ally to join in, once the model proved itself. I am happy to open it up to the Big 12 right from the start. An SEC-Big 12 joint-venture would be unstoppable.

-- D.S.


DougOLis said...

Yeah, because a system in which only 24 out of 120 teams are even eligible makes perfect sense for crowning the "national champ." What happens when the SEC and Big-12 have down years? It's not like they've always been clearly the best 2 conferences; you're advocating a system that's based off a brief snapshot of time which is pretty dumb.

Unknown said...

ACC brings little to the table?! One down season and you forget all the National Championship teams they have had in the last decade? Or maybe more to the point, Big 12 and SEC are hot this year and you are ready to sign them for life, as if they will forever be the best? Fans want a play-off so that good teams in lesser conferences can have a chance. Excluding all but two conferences in a playoff is taking the worst aspect of the Bowl system, and making it into a playoff system.