First, to the notion that college football needs to expand to an eight-team – or more – playoff, we can safely say: Pfffffft.
There is as of today no compelling reason that the lords of the game should feel obliged to let out their belt like Uncle Jess after the Thanksgiving feast and expand in an unsightly manner. Just because that’s the easy thing to do rather than admitting the obvious and summoning up the gumption to walk into that big and tall store.
It is not required that big-boy football take another step toward the FCS model. Let James Madison ride the long bracket. To be an efficient and effective tool, an FBS bracket needs to have no more levels than a good fork has tines.
If that means Alabama has to miss the postseason once every decade or two, so be it.
If that means that an undefeated team like Central Florida doesn’t get in because it lacks the sex appeal of universities you’ve actually heard of, well, welcome to how life on the whole operates. (And the Golden Knights have one legitimate argument for consideration – hey, they’ve beaten as many currently ranked teams this season as has Alabama).
Looking at the upcoming conference championships in the right light and you almost can make out an eight-game playoff as it is. Just throw out the Pac-12 and you’ve got yourself a very nice de facto quarterfinal round.
These are elimination games in the guise of conference championships. That certainly is the case in the SEC (Auburn vs. Georgia), ACC (Clemson vs. Miami) and even the Big-10 (Wisconsin vs. Ohio State). Yes, even a two-loss Buckeye team that fell by 31 to Iowa could stake a claim to the Final Four by beating some undefeated Badgers and winning its conference.
As for the Big-12 championship between Oklahoma and TCU, a Horned Frog victory would muddy the water. They are 3-2 over their last five games entering this one. But the Sooners really should prevail, so long as their volatile quarterback doesn’t get thrown out of the game mooning the TCU band in the first quarter.
The possibility of a couple two-loss teams making the playoffs is real, especially in the cases of Auburn and Ohio State.
Wouldn’t that just singe the eyebrows clean off one-loss ‘Bama? That is reason enough to bring back the Buckeyes and provide Clemson another semifinal walkover (flashback: that was 31-0 a year ago).
"I think this team deserves an opportunity to get in the playoff,” Nick Saban was saying practically before scoreboard at Jordan-Hare was cold Saturday night. He is a better destroyer of worlds than a lobbyist, but this was a necessary transition.
The fact is, the conference championships deserve great weight. That, along with the thus-far undiluted nature of the college playoffs, is what has made these past couple of weeks so intriguing and meaningful.
To make a truly convincing argument that you belong in the mix come January, shouldn’t you at least make it to the first weekend of December – where the playoffs begin in essence if not in name?