The playoff will be better. Decades overdue, the four-team tournament coming to major college football in 2014 will not only double the present championship pool but also upgrade other prominent bowls.
But the playoff, selecting and seeding its participants, will be difficult. It will be messy and controversial, though heaven help us if it's not transparent.
Case in point, this season.
The Bowl Subdivision's sole unbeaten, Notre Dame (12-0) is the clear top seed, and not simply because of its unblemished record. The Fighting Irish defeated three teams among the BCS' top 20: No. 6
Only two of Notre Dame's opponents, Boston College and Wake Forest, finished the regular season with losing records, and all six computers used to calculate the BCS standings tab
With an unprecedented six teams among the BCS' top 10, the
Yes, league commissioners have mandated an emphasis on conference championships, but compare Alabama's credentials with those of SEC rival Florida (11-1).
They did not play one another, and while the Tide's loss, at home to
Florida is the only team with four victories over top-15 BCS opponents: No. 8
Basketball's selection panel often cites non-conference strength of schedule because these are the teams you choose to play. Florida has the edge here, too. Its FBS non-league opponents — 8-4 Bowling Green, 11-2 Florida State and 8-4 Louisiana Lafayette — are a combined 27-10. The Tide's — 3-9 Florida Atlantic, 7-5 Western
Why parse the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds — I'd make Florida the two and Alabama the three — when they clash in the playoff semifinals (neutral site) regardless of order? Because it prepares us for choosing the fourth playoff team.
This is where the committee's deliberations become as thorny and critiqued as the Obama-Boehner budget taffy pull.
Eight teams for one spot. Good luck.
Like conference champs? Kansas State won the
Strength of schedule: Oklahoma's is No. 5, Stanford's No. 6, again, per Sagarin.
But although the Sooners lost to teams that are a combined 21-1, Notre Dame and Kansas State, I'm eliminating the Sooners. They're the only one of the eight without a victory over a team in the BCS' top 20.
As the lone one-loss conference champ among the eight, K-State makes a strong case. But that defeat was by four touchdowns to 7-5
Among the SEC quartet, LSU is the strongest with conquests of South Carolina and Texas A&M, and narrow losses to Florida and Alabama.
Which leaves us with Stanford, Oregon and LSU for the No. 4 seed.
Oregon has the best record and most head-turning offense, but the Ducks lost at home to Stanford, and their only win over a top-25 BCS team was at No. 13
Both of Stanford's losses were on the road, at Notre Dame and
So could a four-team playoff include the SEC's Alabama, Florida and LSU? Since there will be no limit on conference representation, the answer is yes, but the immeasurable is how much value the committee will place on league championships.
My fourth team would be LSU, but my hunch is the panel would pick Stanford. No matter the choice, the subsequent howling would be louder than Pit Road at Daytona.
A fair price for progress.