College football’s postseason future will soon be decided and everyone has an opinion on the best format. There’s the model endorsed by the Big Ten commissioner, the format preferred by the SEC’s strongest coaches, and variations in between.
As an admittedly biased citizen in Pac-12 country let me make this very clear: The SEC model is best.
Just not the SEC model they’re talking about.
Consensus appears to have been reached to replace the current two-team “playoff” that is the BCS Championship Game with a four-team tournament. The questions now are where to play the games and how to determine who gets in.
The former is just a matter of logistics. The games will be played on a football field, lots of people will watch, and mountains of money will be made.
The latter determines the very essence of the championship. What makes a team worthy of a chance to prove itself the absolute best in college football? Conference champions only or four at-large teams?
The Southeastern Conference is currently the best college football league in the land. The national championship should be determined exactly how the SEC does it.
Not how the SEC wants to do it. How the SEC does it now.
Who were the best two teams in the SEC last year? Louisiana State and Alabama, without question. So why didn’t those two schools meet in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta?
LSU and Alabama play in the same division. On the basis of the Tigers’ head-to-head victory over Alabama on Nov. 5, LSU finished atop the SEC West standings and played the SEC East champ, Georgia.
Where was Nick Saban’s outrage about being excluded? Why were there no calls for a rematch, no claims that “the whole thing should be based on who’s the best two teams”?
Saban knew his team had its chance on the field and lost. Alabama did not deserve a second chance to win the conference championship.
Why does the SEC even have divisions? Instead of continuing forward with an awkwardly-split 14-team league, why not just use the SEC’s version of the BCS and pick the best two teams to play in the Georgia Dome each year? On the national level, why not just have 120 independents schedule whomever they please and let the polls and computer rankings determine all the playoff and bowl matchups?
Conferences matter to anyone who cares about college football from the heart. Rivalries matter. Regional superiority matters.
There’s a reason Michigan’s fight song says “champions of the West” and not “champions of the world.” The Wolverines were boasting of beating their rivals, their peers. They were celebrating a conference championship.
College football was built on conference rivalries and those conferences should be the foundation of the reformed postseason. The goal of a playoff shouldn’t be to find the best two teams or the best four teams; it should be to find the single best team through a process of elimination.
The argument for a champions-only playoff is a call for a logical progression. If I’m not the tallest person in my family, I’m not the tallest person in my town. If I’m not the best speller at my school, I can’t claim to be the best speller in the state. If B is not greater than A, B is not the greatest.
The conference season eliminates the majority of teams and the playoffs should eliminate the rest until a true champion of champions is crowned.
Just like in the SEC.
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