It now seems that the dream of most college football fans will come true; that of a playoff system at the FBS level. Now nothing’s set in stone yet, but with the BCS itself putting forth a ‘recommendation’ for such a format, that which seemed as mythical as the Anicent Greek gods or a Cubs World Series win is that much closer to reality. The current idea floating around is a 4 team system, but the trouble is howto allocate those slots. It boils down to two formats; 4 conference champs or the 4 best teams in the nation. Both have their pros, but the 4 best has more pitfalls then the former.
The problem with having the 4 best teams in the nation duke it out is that they will more then likely include 2 or possibly 3 SEC teams. This should be no surprise since that is the conference that produces most of the top teams in the country. It’s also no surprise that the coaches, Miles, Saban, Muschamp etc, and commish are heavily in favor of that. However, this would ultimately be bad for college football. In the interests of full disclosure, I will say I am a Big Ten guy, went to schools in it for both undergrad and grad, so I’m naturally inclined against the SEC. However, what worries me the most about this SEC-favored format is that it gives too much power to one conference and would further the competitive imbalance that already exists in the sport.
There’s always going to be one SEC in the top 4 and a majority of the years there will be 2. There might even have been 3 last year, with Arkansas lurking just outside. If that had happened you might as well have just called it The SEC Playoffs. What makes college football, and college sports in general, great is the idea of parity and that any team has a chance. Now the reality of college football is that the SEC dominates and there’s really no way to change that short of states like Nevada or Indiana to become talent hotbeds, though SEC teams might then pilfer them.
One pro-4 best argument would be why penalize an SEC team that did very well in the toughest conference just to accommodate a team with less talent and a worse record? There is validity to that but what about teams that worked just as hard to win their conference, only to be left out? Any way you look at it, someone’s going to be slighted. It happens all the time on Slection Sunday. Therefore the fairest option would be the 4 conference champions one. What would be an even better option would be an 8 team tourney of the best in the nation which would allow for more teams and eliminate the SEC exclusivity, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.