This week the College Football Selection committee meets for two days in Grapevine, Texas. I’m hoping conference champions are a significant component in the selection process. I won’t get my wish of +1 playoff system or my next choice of an 8 team playoff ( 5 Power Conference Champions, 2 WildCards, Highest Ranked non-Power 5 team ).
It’s going to be 4 teams chosen by selection committee for now.
Today twitter I jumped into a conversation with @BarrettSallee @KilroyFSU and @in_the_grass who were discussing this very topic. You can view my timeline to see there were some polar opposite opinions on this.
Here’s my argument for conference champions… You have to take as much subjectivity out of the equation of choosing teams. By not choosing a conference champion you inherently saying the second or third best team in conference is better than a first place finisher. How do I know that? Did they play each other? Is the perception one conference is weaker than another a fair one when it penalizes the perceived weaker conference’s champion?
Recent results have proven you can’t do that. I won’t argue that the SEC is country’s best football conference, but in the last two years it’s 1-3 BCS record proves that it’s 2nd best team shouldn’t necessarily be given a pass into a 4 team playoff. In fact the “on field results” show this. Louisville the Big East Champion in 2011 and Oklahoma the 2nd Place finisher in the Big 12 beat, the SEC’s second best team Florida and Alabama by double digits in both years.
As @jonthewren pointed out on twitter during this discussion, 2006 Big East Champion West Virginia beat the SEC’s representative Georgia and Utah beat Alabama in 2008. Teams from perceived weaker conferences beating a SEC team. In 2010 the Big 10′s Ohio State defeated Arkansas.
If we want to say that 7 straight national titles, prior to Florida State ending the streak, is a testament to the SEC’s strength, then losses in other BCS games in 5 of the 8 previous years prove something something else. These were arguably the SEC’s 2nd best team coming into the BCS bowl games and those losses are proof enough quality football is being played by the rest of the country as well.
The argument against though is would an 8-5 Wisconsin champion of the Big 10 in 2012 deserve a spot in playoff? What about if a 6-7 Georgia Tech had beat Florida State last year? Ok Probably not, those are a lot of losses for those teams, but the solution can be straight forward.
With of the Power 5 conferences contracted to major bowls, these conference champions will have still earned the right to play in a significant game. To make the 4 team playoff you have to be ranked in the top 15. Just this year in BCS games #15 UCF beat #6 Baylor, #12 Clemson beat #7 Ohio State, #11 Oklahoma beat #3 Alabama. I would consider that more than enough evidence that a team ranked 10-15 can play and defeat a higher ranked team.
Still you have 5 Power Conferences, and the rest of the country fighting for 4 spots, there is going to be some level of subjectivity. By making conference champion an important criteria, the guesswork can be in part removed from the equation.