And, yes, hours after the official announcement, it still feels good — perhaps even drop-dead sexy — to use the words “playoff” and “major college football” in the same sentence without it veering toward an Onion-worthy post.
Of course, there are still issues that need hashed out. Yes, even this four-team baby step is being met with scorn by the more-more-more crowd failing to realize that, even in its infancy, this just-birthed format is already infinitesimally better than what the BcS has wrought over the past decade-plus.
Even with a selection committee involved in the process… even with a way-too-limited field… even with every single argument against the specific playoff wheels that officially hit the pavement Tuesday, the game will be better off because of this first step. Those who thought the powerbrokers would cannonball right into the deep end of an eight- or 16-team playoff pool? They’ll eventually get over themselves and realize what a monumental day this was for college football and its fans.
Speaking of which, there were certainly some (a lot of) winners with the announcement of a four-team seeded playoff beginning after the 2014 regular season, and (not as many) losers stemming from the same glorious event. So, well, here are but a few of them…
– THE FANS
When it came to a playoff poll on this site, you could count on anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of our readers being in favor of a change to the current system used to determine a “national champion.” Other polls would range from 65-70 percent to, well, well above that mark. The fans have clamored for it for years and, while it may not be what the majority wants, it’s certainly a day when the sport gave the fans that support it exactly what was wanted, regardless of the motive$ behind it. Which, of course, leads us to…
– EVERY FBS* FOOTBALL PROGRAM
Will a four-team playoff likely exclude the non-power conferences to a greater degree than it had in the previous system? It very well could. With $500 million annually at stake — nearly triple of what was paid out under the old system — the members of those non-power conferences, diluted already thanks in large part to expansion wrought by the BcS, will be able to wash away their collective exclusion angst with crisp $100 bills. As for the power conferences? The rich merely got richer today — and separated themselves further from the have-nots.
– MIKE SLIVE & JOHN SWOFFORD
The commissioners of the SEC and ACC, respectively, were at the forefront of a push several years ago to implement some type of playoff, only to be rebuffed by the Jim Delanys of the college football world. Even as they may not have gotten exactly what they wanted this go ’round, each of those two men and their staunch pro-playoff stances were vindicated. And the sport is all the better for their collective and unwavering approaches to the offseason.
– THE BOWLS
We touched on this earlier but it bears repeating: the fact that, after there had been some level of discussion of hosting pre-title games at on-campus or neutral-site venues, the semifinals will be hosted by existing bowls on a rotating basis is a huge win for the Football Bowl Association. The inclusion of six upper-echelon bowls in the playoff process is significant for the FBA, although raising the bar on bowl eligibility could be the death knell for postseason games that almost no one will miss.
– THE ACC
There are currently four “power conferences” in major college football: the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. With just four precious playoff spots available over each of the next 12 years, that would seem to be a rough deal for a conference like the ACC, especially based on how this exact playoff format would’ve played out if it were in place over the past decade. This conference, though, has four things in its favor when it comes to the future format: Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech, football-rich traditions which, while in “down cycles” at the moment nationally, give the ACC more than enough opportunity for its playoff water to find its level.
– DAN WETZEL & PLAYOFF PAC
Enough. Said. Other than there’s a fairly good chance that the sport wouldn’t be where it’s at right now, playoff-wise, without those two and the pressure they, and by extension the fans, exerted on the process.
– THE BIG EAST
Given the whole television contract negotiating thing, I should probably tread carefully here, but there’s really no gray area when it comes to this. The Big East signed off on a deal that will likely preclude that conference, given the recent defections generally and specifically if Boise State reneges on its expected future move, from being a major or even minor playoff player for the foreseeable future. If the Broncos follow through on their move, or if another Louisville circa 2006 is in the offing, the Big East may find a spot at a corner table, even if it’s just occasionally. Other than that? They should’ve been the loudest voices at the table for an expanded playoff field. Or merely be satisfied with cashing that lucrative postseason check.
– HARVEY PERLMAN
The Nebraska chancellor and staunch anti-playoff intellectual (pictured) would’ve been fine with the status quo. Or a Plus-One abomination. He got neither. Life is good.
– THE ANTI-PLAYOFF “CROWD”
Their stance is not one I could even begin to fathom let alone start to wrap my head around, yet the presence of that sentiment kept the sport from taking the righteous path for years or even decades. The fact that some of the staunchest anti-playoff proponents were part of the group that actually implemented a playoff induces mild chuckling… and hope that those very people are actually beginning to “get it” when it comes to an issue that’s vitally important for the future of the game.
(*with the official death to the BcS, I’ve decided to officially retire the “Div. 1-A (FBS)” designation. It’s the least I could do.)