Another fascinatingly improbable regular season of college football is coming to an end. And by “fascinatingly improbable” we mean “completely predictable.”
Seriously, who would have guessed that two teams from the Southeastern Conference would be playing on Saturday in Atlanta for the right to play in the BCS national championship game?
If it hadn’t dawned on you already, this is when you finally come to the realization that something is amiss with college football: Everyone in the country outside of the Deep South is going to be rooting for Notre Dame in the sport’s national championship game.
Here’s the subject of an email I received from an offshore sportsbook earlier in the week: “Notre Dame would favored against only one of the top six teams in the SEC, that being South Carolina.”
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South Carolina is ranked 10th in the BCS standings entering conference championship weekend. There are five teams in the Gamecocks’ conference ranked higher in the BCS: Alabama (2), Georgia (3), Florida (4), LSU (7) and Texas A&M (9).
So, let’s skip ahead two years and pretend this is 2014 and the top four teams in the standings are Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Could a four-team playoff for the national championship be any more farcical than independent Notre Dame and three teams from the SEC?
Yes, actually it can when you factor in the conference championship games. Some conferences have them. Some don’t. And some teams aren’t even in conferences.
Imagine being on the selection committee for the first FBS playoff and Alabama just knocked off Georgia in the SEC championship game. Good luck.
If the current computer formulas and polls that make up the BCS standings are used as a guide for the playoffs, that would mean Florida, which lost to Georgia, would move to third in the BCS standings and Oregon would slide into fourth.
Already you can see the problems. Only one team in the national championship playoff would be a conference champion, Alabama.
Meanwhile, the Big 12 — another conference without a championship game — would be shut out despite Kansas State only having one loss. The Big Ten, ACC and Big East wouldn’t even have a chance, based on the current standards.
And what happens when, say, San Diego State, Boise State or BYU runs the table? Just more chaos, that’s what.
No, a four-team playoff isn’t going to fix a thing. In fact, it will only make college football’s postseason even more maddening. Move to an eight-team playoff, you say? Based on the current standings, that would give the SEC four teams in the field. Conference commissioners and school presidents outside the South would just love that.
This might seem farfetched right now, but, from my vantage point, a 16-team playoff isn’t too far off. Want intrigue? Kill the computers and retire the pollsters and set the playoff at the end of the season without the crutch of standings.
And how happy is Texas A&M to be done with the Big 12 and that long shadow of the Texas Longhorns? Join the SEC and you’re instantly an elite team and your redshirt freshman quarterback becomes the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.
Aggies freshman Johnny Manziel is likely to become the first freshman to win the Heisman in the history of the award and the third dual-threat quarterback from the SEC to win the award since 2007.
Florida’s Tim Tebow accounted for 51 regular-season touchdowns when he became the first sophomore to win the Heisman in 2007. Before the 2010 SEC championship game, Auburn’s Cam Newton threw for 24 touchdowns, ran for 18 and even had one touchdown receiving. Manziel’s touchdown numbers are comparable (24 passing and 19 rushing).
I know what you’re thinking: If only Denard Robinson would have played in the SEC. OK, that’s probably not what you were thinking.
Manziel is an overwhelming 1-6 favorite to win the Heisman, according to Bovada Sportsbook, but “Johnny Football” isn’t getting my top vote. The award goes to the most outstanding player in college football, and Manti Te’o of Notre Dame is that player. Without Te’o, Notre Dame is a three-loss team.