It was a fist-pump world in many college football circles this week.
A football playoff! At last!
The creatively titled College Football Playoff will feature a four-team bracket competing for a national championship, while keeping a rotation of New Year’s Eve bowls — the best of both worlds!
And look at the committee: Barry Alvarez! Archie Manning! Condi Rice! Who could argue with such integrity, such distinguished figures?
Sure, a college football playoff is worth celebrating — unless you’re not in the ACC, SEC, Pac-12, Big 10, Big 12 or Notre Dame.
There will be two more teams in the race for the national championship, but not much guarantee that non-major conferences will get to compete for it. Small schools are still in it for peanuts.
Do the math: There will be 12 teams in the national semifinals or in a New Year’s Eve bowl. The five non-contracted conferences are guaranteed one slot among those dozen.
Gee, thanks, committee. Five conferences competing for one guaranteed spot, and it might not even be for the national championship.
“But wait,” you say, “That’s what the committee is for! They’ll pick fairly!”
Yeah, about that …
Some people want to attack the football credentials of the committee. I’m not going there. But I am interested to see their conference ties, which go something like this: SEC, Big 10, Pac-12, Big 12, SEC, Big 10, ACC, Pac-12, Big East (or American), Pac-12 and Notre Dame.
There is a voice for the smaller conferences, but it really is basically one voice: Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, former superintendent of the U.S. Air Force. You might be able to call Tom Jernstedt, a consultant for the Mountain West last year, a voice as well, but things are clearly slanting in one direction.
If midmajors were hoping that a playoff system would bring a fairer system for a national champion, they might as well start hoping for a fairer system in 2019. The College Football Playoff as we’ll know it will still be for Alabama, Texas, Stanford, Ohio State and other college football heavyweights.
The baseline for those conferences is obviously higher, and the schedules are harder. But the point of a playoff is to allow the true champion to prove it on the field. In this case, that might mean more one-loss teams from power conferences.
Would one of the undefeated Utah teams from its MWC days get a chance in the new system? An undefeated Boise State? Even with the field doubled, it’s still an upward climb.