Gary Laney neatly distills why the four-team playoff format is toast, even before the first one has been set.
A season ago, neither Baylor nor Michigan State, champions of the Big 12 and Big Ten, respectively, would have made the tournament, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said.
Instead, both Alabama and Auburn would have made it out of the SEC, along with Florida State and Oregon.
When that happens in the future, it won’t be analogous to other postseason snubs like, say, the NCAA basketball tournament. The first team left out of that tournament is the 38th team in line, aside from the 31 conference champions that qualify automatically.
In this case, the selection committee will always leave out at least one major conference champion, even in years when it doesn’t pick two teams from one conference. [Emphasis added.]
That is exactly why I’ve bitched about bracket creep for years. The system they’ve built is unstable. And it’s not predicated on settling it on the field, or having the best teams. It’s about sharing the wealth. Eventually, that’s why they’ve got to expand, because leaving a member of the Big Five out every year isn’t going to set well with the people running the game.
They’ll no doubt use us fans as an excuse, the first time there’s a selection controversy, because that will be convenient. But the thing is, the move to eight, if it’s done as Laney describes – all major conference champions to get in, plus a few at-large berths – isn’t going to make things any more stable. Because there will come a year when a major conference team that didn’t win its conference and is excluded from the playoff field is better than some teams that do qualify. And there’s only one cure for that fever.
It won’t stop until there’s no more money being thrown at it.