What would a four-team playoff look like this year?


As you’ve no doubt seen by now, all five BCS games have been filled. There was no drama when it came to selecting the championship game between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama, but Northern Illinois crashing the BCS at-large party set off more than a few complaints.

Two years from now the college football world will finally rid itself of the preposterous postseason selection process code-named “BCS” and will be replaced with a slightly less preposterous selection process code named “playoff.” Or, BCS 2.0 for the more cynical bunch out there.

But who wants to wait for that? Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated put together a mock selection committee of university admins to determine, on a simplified basis comparatively, what a four-team playoff would look like following the 2012 football season. As you can imagine, it was no easy task. UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood even said “The thing that jumps out at me is that there are just four teams, it’s not enough of a sample. I was not a proponent of going larger than four, and this changed my mind totally.”

With those daunting words in mind, we here at CFT have decided to form our own two-member mock selection committee and choose four teams to compete for our inaugural Kercheval-Taylor Coaches’ Trophy.

(For those wondering, it’s a bowling trophy with a tennis ball attached to the top. Still, very prestigious.) 

First thing’s first: Notre Dame and Alabama are in. There’s no discussion about that. Those two have without a doubt earned the right to compete for a championship. But which teams fill the other two spots? That’s a bit cloudier. We’ve selected five that we feel should at least be in consideration and stated what we feel helps or hurts their cause.

So check out our picks and let us know what you think below. Also, remember that we deliberately left certain teams out because we hate them. You know, the ones we’re biased against. Yeah, those teams.


Believe it or not, there is good football outside of the SEC. You just don’t hear about it since the SEC has won six straight BCS championships and hacks like us won’t stop shoving that little factoid down y’all’s throats. Anyway, the Tide finished the season 12-1 with a dramatic win in the SEC championship game over Georgia. Other than that, the Tide’s only real sensational victory was against LSU. Michigan and Mississippi State turned out to be farces and Nick Saban’s team was upset at home by Texas A&M. Still, Alabama has two wins over current top-10 teams. That’s more than good enough to put them in a four-team playoff without complaints.

Notre Dame
Like the Irish or hate ‘em, Notre Dame has earned its right to be in the BCS championship game. There’s really no debate here, at least not as it pertains to Notre Dame being worthy of one of four spots. Go undefeated in any conference – or, Independent, as this case would have it – and a team should have a shot to compete for the whole enchilada.


This would be the most difficult selection by far even though Florida has the best résumé in college football. The Gators stand against everything expanding the championship field was supposed to correct (or, at least help correct). Will Muschamp’s team didn’t win its own division, let alone its own conference, nor did it win the head-to-head matchup with Georgia. But Florida does have wins over Florida State, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M. All are 10-win teams.

When someone says the regular season needs to matter, it can be viewed two ways. On one hand, that argument should favor the Bulldogs for the reasons mentioned above even though the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party turned into the World’s Largest Turnover Festival. On the other hand, if we’re talking about what a team did during the season, and not what it didn’t do, then it’s tough not to name Florida one of the four best teams in the country. No, it hasn’t always looked good for the Gators, but if the so-called “eye test” was the overriding consideration, Oregon would be a lock.

The other side of the cocktail glass. What’s a Bulldog have to do to get a little respect, anyway? Georgia has the head-to-head against Florida and came thisclose to winning the SEC. Unfortunately, an ill-fated pitch and catch may be the difference between a shot at a national title and being left to wonder what could have been.

There’s no doubt Georgia’s a good team, but are they a final four team? Ask yourself this: do final four teams get beat 35-7 by South Carolina? If head-to-head battles mattered as much as Georgia might argue, what would be the cost of a loss like that one? Kansas State faces a similar situation with its loss to Baylor, which you’ll read below. Losses happen, but blowouts? The only way UGA gets the benefit here is that it happened early enough in the season that the Bulldogs could point to how well they’ve played since. Like Alabama though, Georgia’s overall schedule is so-so. Of its seven conference wins, only two came against opponents with winning records.

Kansas State
If there’s one thing holding the Wildcats back from being a lock for a four-playoff, it’s Baylor. It’s tough to remain perfect every single week. Individuals, teams have off days. It happens. So my general rule is to penalize teams less for losing and reward them more for winning, but it’s impossible to ignore the whipping K-State took in Waco at the hands of a team that didn’t even have a .500 record at the time. Granted, that started a three-game winning streak for the now-bowl eligible Bears, but the Wildcats were outmatched – dominated up front, really — by statistically one of the worst defenses in the country (123rd in yards per game; 122nd in passing yards; 117 in points per game).

K-State’s best win came on the road against Oklahoma in late September, but the rest of KSU’s wins are a bit deceiving. The Wildcats played four AP top-25 teams this year, but only two (Oklahoma and Texas) actually finished in the AP top 25. The reason? Tremendous parity in the league. Half of the Big 12 finished with a 7-5 overall record and a 4-5 conference record this year. Still, there are nine bowl-eligible teams from the Big 12 this season with a round-robin schedule.

The Ducks are in a similar boat (so to speak) as Florida. Oregon did not win its division nor did it win its head-to-head game with Stanford. Oregon’s schedule is a bit like Kansas State’s too in that it played five ranked teams this year, but only two – Stanford and Oregon State – ended the season ranked by the AP. Prior to Oregon winning the Civil War last week, its best “W” was against a USC team that was on the verge of a late-season slide.

What the Ducks need from a selection committee is faith in how they look. Oregon is flashy and scores a lot in a hurry. The general curiosity about Chip Kelly’s team is whether it could score like that against a defense from Florida or Notre Dame. However, Oregon couldn’t do much at all against the Cardinal, statistically one of the best run defenses in college football. The Ducks could make an argument that loss was a fluke – it wasn’t – but it may have answered that curiosity.

Stanford might be the hottest team in college football with seven straight wins. Not only that, the Cardinal had three consecutive wins over top 25 teams (four if you count UCLA twice; once in the regular season and once in the Pac-12 championship) to end the season, so David Shaw’s group is playing well at the right time too. That win over Oregon in Eugene is one of the best of the year.

But Stanford’s body of work isn’t spotless. An early-season upset over USC gives the Cardinal two wins against top-five teams, but the Trojans have fallen hard in the past month. Still, USC was highly-regarded at the time. The following week, however, Stanford fell flat on its face and was upset by a Washington team that finished 7-5. Overall, the Cardinal has most of what a selection committee would look for: a conference championship and a handful of quality wins.


Ben’s four: Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame, Stanford

John’s four: Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Stanford

Cal, Hawaii officially announce 2016 game Down Under

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14:  The sails of the Sydney Opera House are illuminated in the colours of the French flag on November 14, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 are injured in Paris following a series of terrorist acts in the French capital on Friday.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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In September it was reported that a 2016 Cal-Hawaii game in Australia was a “strong likelihood.”  Two months later, that strong likelihood has come to fruition.

Earlier Saturday, both Cal and Hawaii sent out releases confirming that the two football programs will square off in 2016 in Sydney.  The game, which will be called the Sydney College Football Cup, will be played at the 83,500-seat ANZ Stadium in New South Wales that was built for the 2000 Summer Olympics.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience for our student-athletes and an excellent opportunity to see and learn about another culture,” Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. “We are proud to represent the University of California at this historic event. A great deal of hard work by many people has gone into making this a reality, and everyone associated with Cal Athletics is excited to take part in it.

“It is a great day for college football and all the fans of our sport. It shows the popularity college football is gaining, and we’re ready to help further introduce the sport to many more fans.”

This contest will be the first college football game to ever be played in Sydney and the first in Australia since games in Melbourne — Wyoming-UTEP in 1985 and BYU-Colorado State in 1987.

Cal has previously played outside of the United States just once, in Japan in 1987 against Washington State. This will mark UH’s first-ever game outside the country.

“The University of Hawai‘i is thrilled for this wonderful opportunity to open the 2016 college football season in Sydney against the University of California, Berkeley,” UH athletic director David Matlin said in his statement. “Our football program has tremendous pride in not only representing the state of Hawai‘i, but all of the Pacific region. From a cultural perspective, this game will afford our student-athletes an experience they will always remember and give most of them the chance to travel outside the United States for the first time in their lives. Traditionally, the University of Hawai‘i has been fortunate to welcome many student-athletes from Australia and we hope this game opens doors for many more.”

Reports: Justin Fuente leaving Memphis for Virginia Tech

Justin Fuentes

Those within the college football industry said Whit Babcock and Virginia Tech would be the first major program with a head coaching vacancy to make a hire. It appears they were correct.

As his team beats SMU down something fierce, reports indicate Memphis head coach Justin Funete is on his way out the door for Blacksburg.

Fuente, 39, arrived from TCU following the 2011 season and brought Memphis out of the college football abyss and into the national consciousness. The Tigers went 7-17 in Fuente’s first two seasons, then skyrocketed to 10-3 with a share of the American Athletic Conference championship in 2014 and a (soon to be) 9-3 mark in 2015.

Memphis opened this season 8-0 — running its overall win streak to 15 games — with a win over Ole Miss, rising as high as No. 13 in the College Football Playoff poll.

In Virginia Tech, Fuente inherits a program many described as the best current opening outside of USC, as the Hokies battle for Virginia for a berth in their 23rd straight bowl game.

And keeping around one of the most respected defensive coordinators in the business? That’s a heck of a start to get the Hokies back on top again.

With LSU rumors swirling, Jimbo reportedly tells FSU prez he’s staying

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher reacts to a play against the Oregon Ducks during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2015 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Tonight’s game against Texas A&M will reportedly be Les Mileslast at LSU. Unless it’s not, depending on who or which reports you want to believe.

Regardless, speculation has been rampant that, if/when LSU pulls the trigger and dismisses Miles, their No. 1 target by far is Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. The former LSU offensive coordinator has publicly brushed aside the speculation of late, but now is reportedly telling those in positions of power at his current university that he has no intentions of leaving.

From a report by the Palm Beach Post‘s Tom D’Angelo:

Jimbo Fisher met with Florida State president John Thrasher this week and told Thrasher he does not have to worry about losing his head coach.

Sources have told the Post that Fisher, whose name has been connected to the expected opening at LSU, has made it clear he is happy with the administration, the support he receives and the direction of the program, and has no intentions of leaving Florida State for another coaching job at this time.

It seems likely that Miles’ time in Baton Rouge is quickly coming to an end, even as an ESPN report intimates that he could save his job with a win today, as does It doesn’t appear, though, that Fisher will be riding in on his white horse to “save” the Tigers football program if Miles is jettisoned.

Then again, Nick Saban was not going to be the head coach at Alabama before he was, sooo

Ohio State leads Michigan after tight first half

Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer
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No. 8 Ohio State leads No. 10 Michigan 14-10 at the break in Ann Arbor.

Ohio State struck first with a seven-play, 94-yard march late in the first quarter, aided by a highly questionable flag. The Wolverines had forced a Buckeyes punt from their own 9, but a roughing the kicker call, on a play where Ohio State punter Cameron Johnston didn’t appear to make contact with a Wolverine, kept the drive alive. Ezekiel Elliott broke free for a 66-yard run to plays after the flag, and J.T. Barrett scored from seven yards out two plays later.

After mounting drives of 43 and 28 yards on its first two possessions, Michigan answered Ohio State’s score with a short field goal. The Wolverines moved to the Buckeyes’ 6 until two straight incomplete passes forced a 25-yard Kenny Allen field goal at the 9:25 mark of the second quarter.

Ohio State immediately answered, moving 75 yards in nine snaps — all but the first carries by Barrett or Elliott — to push the lead to 14-3 with 5:01 remaining before the half. Michigan, though, answered that answer with a five-yard Jake Rudock touchdown pass to Jehu Chesson on 3rd-and-2 with one minute remaining.

Rudock threw 24 times in the half, completing 14 for 178 yards and a touchdown. Jabrill Peppers led the Wolverines with five rushes for 21 yards and two grabs for 25 yards. Chesson caught four passes for 53 yards and a score, and Jake Butt nabbed three grabs for 43 yards.

Elliott charged Ohio State with 10 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown, while Barrett rushed eight times for 64 yards and a touchdown while completing 3-of-6 throws for 18 yards.

Ohio State will receive to open the second half.