Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC Lining Up Against SEC, Big 12 and Notre Dame
The play is not even complete yet, and already there are penalty flags all over the field.
College football is considering a four-team playoff but by early indications, this proposal is going to create more problems than it is supposed to solve.
Conferences are lining up on different sidelines and an all-out rivalry is being created, one that could turn out to be the conferences’ equivalent of Alabama-Auburn, Ohio State-Michigan and USC-UCLA.
Jim Delany started it all. The Big 10 commissioner, in a desperate attempt to protect his league’s recent weakness of producing national title contenders, said the format should be reserved only for conference champions. This was an obvious slap to the SEC, which had the two best teams in 2011 and had them in the BCS National Championship game. Delany even continually referred to Alabama as “that team.” (Well, commish, “that team” plays one of your marquee teams to open this season. See you in Dallas.)
This seemed like a good idea to the other title contending-challenged conferences – the Pac-12, ACC, Big East – so their commissioners immediately voiced support.
The SEC, however, is now digging in its heels. Florida President Bernie Machen said the league would not compromise; it wants the four highest teams in the playoff, regardless of conference affiliation. The Big 12, which each year has three teams that could potentially qualify (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas) and Notre Dame agree with this position.
“We won’t compromise on that,” Machen said at the SEC spring meetings. “I think the public wants the top four. I think almost everybody wants the top four.”
Under the “conference champions” proposal, last year LSU may have faced Oregon. Except LSU spanked Oregon to start the season, and this hits at the craw of Sideline Sam’s primary concern about a playoff: It would have rendered the regular-season game meaningless. As it turns out, that opening-season game had a huge effect on the rest of the season because no matter what Oregon did, it was proven on the field that it was not as good as LSU.
And that’s the way it should be, and what makes college football unique among all other sports.
The SEC, Big 12 and Notre Dame are right. A four-team playoff should be among the four best teams, period. If your conference can’t produce one of those teams than too bad, but don’t cry on our parade.
And now, even NCAA President Mark Emmert has raised another potential issue, that the four-team playoff would cause a mass re-alignment of conference teams. Again.
“If there’s going to be significant movement by FBS institutions over the course of the summer,” he said. “It will be driven by that.”
Maybe college football should just leave well enough alone. Call the play(off) back because there are already so many penalty flags on the field because of it. If this continues, it could divide, rather than unify, college football.