Fact: There’s a desire by several conference commissioners to place additional roadblocks between the SEC and future BCS championships. Larry Scott of the Pac-12 and Jim Delany of the Big Ten are interested in a college football playoff involving the four highest-rated conference champions in the land.
Problem is — and this is what’s motivating those commissioners — the SEC had two teams in the BCS title game last year and the team that did not win its conference title did win the national crown.
The coach of that team — Alabama’s Nick Saban — weighed in on the champs-only plan yesterday during a speech at a charity foundation yesterday in Nashville:
“No disrespect to any conference, but there are conferences that are in the BCS that if they played in the SEC their champion may be in fourth or fifth place. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Roy Kramer and all commissioners of major conferences in the country. No disrespect to anyone. I disagree with that (plan). If you’re one of the two best teams you should be able to play in the game and we were fortunate to have the opportunity to get back in the game this year and I think we proved with our conference that we should have been in the game.”
In fact, in nearly half of the years of the BCS’ existence, two SEC teams have ranked among the top four teams at year’s end.
If the champs-only plan had been in effect this past year, #1 LSU would have played #10 Wisconsin and #3 Oklahoma State would have faced #5 Oregon.
Second-ranked Bama and fourth-ranked Stanford didn’t win their league titles. Neither did the teams ranked sixth through ninth.
We believe a four-team Plus-One system should include the four highest-rated teams in America. If guys like Delany and Scott weren’t being so shortsighted they would realize that in 2006, both Ohio State and Michigan would have made a playoff from the Big Ten and that the Pac-12 would have had both Stanford and Oregon in the field in 2010. The Big 12 would have had two teams in the field in 2008.
But, with so much of the motivation for a playoff coming from anti-SEC feelings, it’s likely that a plan involving the four highest-rated teams won’t fly.
At the same time, hopefully Mike Slive can get enough backing from another commish or two — perhaps John Swofford of the ACC — for a compromise plan. The best fix: Invite the three highest-rated conference champs plus the highest-ranked non-champ to play. Last year that would have included #2 Alabama at the expense of #10 Wisconsin. (And if the top four teams all happen to be conference champs, obviously, they would all get invites.)
We at MrSEC.com expect a 3-and-1 “wild card” system to be the eventual choice. At some point we believe even men like Scott and Delany will realize that it could be their leagues left out if a champs-only system is implemented.
But a plan just taking the top four teams in the country would make even more sense.