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    • This weekend is championship weekend in college football. The Pac-12 Championship Game kicks off on Friday night between #13 Oregon and #5 Utah at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. On Saturday, we have the Big XII Championship Game (#7 Baylor vs. #6 Oklahoma), the Sun Belt Championship Game (#21 Appalachian State vs. UL-Lafayette), the American Athletic Championship Game (#20 Cincinnati vs. #17 Memphis), the SEC Championship Game (#2 LSU vs. #4 Georgia), the Mountain West Championship Game (#19 Boise State vs. Hawaii), the ACC Championship Game (#23 Virginia vs. #3 Clemson), and the Big Ten Championship Game (#1 Ohio State vs. #8 Wisconsin). 

      As it stands, the college football playoff sends the top four teams to the playoff. The four teams are chosen by a committee. The conference championship games are part of a team’s resume, but in and of themselves, they don’t guarantee a spot in the tournament or anything. 

      What really is prompting me to write this is what I saw on ESPN earlier this week. Pundits were debating whether Utah should get in over Baylor if both win this weekend and if Georgia loses as expected. The debate even went into discussion about the need to have a prettier looking win and that winning may not be enough. That you had to impress the committee by how you won. My issue with this is what makes most sports great (figure skating and a few others are an exception) is that what happens on the field/court/ice decides who wins the championship. Not a committee. 

      I understand that sometimes a committee is needed like in college basketball’s NCAA Tournament, but at least in that case, there are automatics bids handed out to the winners of the conference tournaments. There’s at least a path to play your way into the tournament and not have to worry about the committee. In college football, it’s just straight committee and I don’t think that’s fair. Really good teams get squeezed out and it leaves fans, players, and coaches all upset. 

      What I would propose is an expansion to eight teams where winners of the Pac-12, SEC, Big XII, ACC, and Big Ten get automatic bids to the tournament and then there are three wild cards selected after that. For those that don’t follow college football, those five conferences are collectively known as the “Power Five” or “P5” conferences. That’s where 80% or higher of the ranked teams are. That’s why winners of those championship games would get an automatic bid. 

      What I like about this formula is it gives college football their own version of the NCAA Tournament that college basketball has. Conference championship games wouldn’t just be for show anymore. They would have real meaning and bearing on who gets to play for the national championship. Plus, there would still be three wild cards left over for a non-P5 school to get in if they were deserving of a shot. 

      Curious to get some thoughts on this. I think it’s sad that a team like Utah or Baylor could win their P5 conference championship game and get squeezed out by the committee because of style points. Or even more cynically, because they weren’t trendy enough to boost up the ratings. There’s been some talk of Utah not being a team college football wants to see in the playoff because of ratings. 

    • Ben, I know nothing of college football and found your explanation on the “P5” extremely helpful, I felt that I learned something useful, and it propelled me to keep on reading. I’m sure others in the community who are similarly “football ignorant” will appreciate this as well.

      My sense of things is that it’s about television ratings and the committee is going to select the finalists based on which teams from the pool are going to bring in the most viewers. I would also think that broadcaster representatives would be providing their input and market research to influence the final decisions.

      Another factor in deciding the finalists, I would think from a cynical standpoint, is how many of a team’s key players are injured and expected to be on the bench during the playoff game. You’re not going to have great television if the team playing is a poor facsimile of the team that qualified.

      Of course, I could be completely wrong on all fronts here.

    • A lot of what you said is pretty accurate. Ratings play a huge role in this and so long as they don’t have automatic bids, the stink of ratings playing too big a role in the selection process will remain. Glad the P5 explanation helped!

    • Curious to get some thoughts on this. I think it’s sad that a team like Utah or Baylor could win their P5 conference championship game and get squeezed out by the committee because of style points.

      Ha. Interesting.

      Coming from a Utah perspective, “getting squeezed out by the committee because of style points” is sort of a blanket statement that encapsulates most everything Utah. ,-) In some ways, I think we sort of expect it.

      When Utah went to the PAC-12 and BYU basically dropped off the face of the earth athletic-competition-wise, it kind of messed with the whole level of in-state competition, which was incredibly intense up until then. It was like having the two biggest fish in our little pond fighting for domination. Now, the biggest fish in our little pond has stepped it up and is scrapping with the biggest fish in a far-away bigger pond! But we’re all still living in the little pond (and we like it here).

      We’re proud that our biggest fish has earned a measure of respect in the big pond, but we don’t necessarily want our biggest fish to get too big for our little pond!


    • BYU needs to find a way into a P5 conference. The Big XII needs to add a couple of teams, so I don’t know why they don’t invite BYU. Personally, I wish BYU joined the Pac-12 when Utah did. Colorado should have stayed in the Big XII instead of joining the Pac-12. That’s what I wish would have happened.

    • BYU made a bizarre decision in my mind. Especially after all the work LaVell did to put them in the map. (OTOH, good for them not letting the Football tail wag the educational dog—we can debate the quality of education in a different thread if necessary. Ha.) My nephew played for BYU during those early days after the WAC. It was a bummer to see things go downhill.

    • Ok, I did want to circle back here and provide an update on how the playoff shook out for those that are curious. 

      Pac-12 Championship: #13 Oregon 37 #5 Utah 15. 

      Big XII Championship: #6 Oklahoma 30 #7 Baylor 23 (Overtime).  

      SEC Championship: #2 LSU 37 #4 Georgia 10. 

      ACC Championship: #3 Clemson 62 #23 Virginia 17.

      Big Ten Championship: #1 Ohio State 34 #8 Wisconsin 21. 

      The Final Four is as follows: 

      #1 LSU vs. #4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl. #2 Ohio State vs. #3. Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. The winners will face off in the national championship game. 

      What I want to now provide is how things would have shook out in my eight team playoff model. Remember, my idea is to have power five conference championship game winners (the five listed above) provide an automatic birth to the playoff with three wild cards. I also want to preserve bowl conference affiliations. So, Rose Bowl being Big Ten Champion vs. Pac-12 Champion. Sugar Bowl being Big XII vs. SEC. Orange Bowl being ACC vs. wildcard. And Fiesta Bowl being two wildcards. 

      Under my model, below is how the quarterfinals would look like with updated rankings after the championship games. The rankings I listed above were the rankings going into the games. 

      Rose Bowl: #6. Oregon vs. #2. Ohio State. 

      Sugar Bowl: #1. LSU vs. #4. Oklahoma. 

      Orange Bowl: #3. Clemson vs. #8. Wisconsin. 

      Fiesta Bowl: #5. Georgia vs. #7. Baylor. 

      As for how things would look after that, I am in favor of having the different bowl champions face each other on a rotating basis. So, this year the semifinal would be Rose Bowl champion vs. Sugar Bowl champion and Orange Bowl champion vs. Fiesta Bowl champion. And the next year it would be say Rose Bowl vs. Orange Bowl, Fiesta vs. Sugar. And the next year would be the third combination and then repeat. 

      Anyways, that’s where we sit and where things would sit under my proposed formula for a college football playoff.