Harrison Thought: The Playoff Problem

Posted Nov 19, 2012

A playoff is coming in 2014, but it won’t be everything to everyone--or every team if you will. It’ll be a whole lot of fun for sure, but one only needs to look at this season to realize that controversy will still be abounding.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

A college football playoff (or something like it) is coming in just a couple short years, and it’ll do everything from settling debates of pigskin supremacy on and off-the-field to curing world hunger. Or will it? Are we all so excited about the possibilities of a multiple team tournament that we are all failing to look at what this season could tell us about what might be reality once all of the money starts rolling in?

There’s no doubt that a four team playoff is a step forward from the wacky tapdancing of the BCS and the years of empty solitude many teams have felt. But even a four team playoff is not designed to handle a season of utter chaos at the top like we have today.

With only one undefeated, eligible team left in big-time college football, the BCS computers might come as close to melting down as ever. Is there any doubt that many athletic programs and coaches are spit shining their shoes and prepping the best promotional materials money can buy to sway voters’ opinions. After all, someone has to separate the men from, well--the other men.

And you thought you could bid good-riddance to campaigning with the passing of the 2012 presidential election. Think again.

To paint a picture of what we might be looking like if we survive Mayan apocalypse, and THIS were 2014, let’s look at the current state of the BCS standings. Currently as stated, the Irish are the only undefeated team left (notwithstanding Ohio State that is still sitting in the penalty box). That’s easy. They’re in for team number one.


Now put down the pens because things are going to begin to get a little murky. It’s a fairly decent shoe-in that the SEC Champion will get the second nod in the playoff, especially considering that Alabama and Georgia are right on the doorstep of the penthouse. There’s team number two. But even that wouldn’t be without controversy, especially if a one-loss Florida State runs the table as well. The Seminoles are down some in the rankings, but it’s still just one-loss, after a league title game win if it makes it there.

Okay, now we’re going to need some pencils with erasers because things get to be a lot like dissecting hairs that have already been dissected for the other two spots. Besides the aforementioned Florida State, you’re going to have a myriad of teams deserving of being included as the other two teams to get a shot for all of the marbles just behind a one-loss SEC champ (if that’s what ends up happening).

Do you give one of the remaining spots to a second SEC team? One that clearly did not win its conference--or even division for that matter? Right now, that looks like the most reasonable assumption with the embarrassment of riches at the top the SEC has. Okay, but that would go over like a lead balloon these days for all of the anti-SEC sentiment. And it’s a hard argument to have because the SEC has beat up on itself for the evidence of quality wins.

Then there’s also one-loss Oregon and Kansas State that have been lights out all season until last week. K-State would be done polishing its profile after playing Texas, and Oregon might be sitting at home watching Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship, but still lurking as an extremely highly ranked one-loss team with offense to spare. Clemson is also there sitting at home with one-loss and no championship to speak of.

Wait, who’s on first again?

Do you get the point yet? We haven’t even began to discuss the resumes of teams like Florida, LSU, South Carolina, and Texas A&M. Those teams are also highly ranked and should at least be in the conversation. They are also all from the SEC, so would the conference that aims to please have a shot at three in the mix?

It’s enough to make your head spin.

It’s clear that the selection committee will have its work cut out for it in some seasons. It might be easier to figure out peace in the middle east than determine the four teams worthy of selection in THIS season. And as we have all seen, THIS season might be closer to the rule than the exception. I mean who else expects there to be a neat little package of teams waiting at the end of 2014?

Now, if Notre Dame loses......ahh, Fughetaboudit.