“It would be a fun embrace of Cinderella for a sport that hates Cinderella.”

Dan Wetzel is rooting for Georgia to run the table through the SEC Championship Game.  That’s not because he’s a huge fan of the Dawgs.  They’re just a means to an end he’s been jonesing for.

One of the things that can change that thinking is when enough of college football is repeatedly left out of the playoff, rendering even historic, so-called Power Five conferences to second-tier status. Many believe the 2012 BCS title game featuring two SEC schools — Alabama and LSU — was a chief motivation for the other leagues to ditch the BCS and create the four-team playoff.

Well, if you think eight is great, if you want to increase not only the number of thrilling playoff games, but also turn these snoozy November Saturdays into a free for all where all the major conference championship races matter, then the tipping point is laying right there to be had.

All it requires is seven results, all but one of which is the predicted outcome.

Notre Dame wins out, defeating Syracuse and USC.

Alabama defeats the Citadel and Auburn.

Georgia defeats Massachusetts and Georgia Tech.

And then … Georgia upsets Alabama in the SEC title game.

That’s it. If those seven games go like that, then the College Football Playoff will feature two SEC teams (Georgia and Alabama, which isn’t dropping past four due to one loss) and an independent (Notre Dame).

One other conference will claim the other spot. It’s most likely the ACC, since Clemson is heavily favored to win out.

It could be any league though. It doesn’t matter because you’d have just two conferences represented in the playoff field … and three major conferences wondering how in the world they ever agreed to a playoff of just four squads?

Oh, my stars!  It’s the end of the world as we know it.

Dan’s world has a place in it for Central Florida, not because the Knights are one of the very best teams in college football, but because they’re not.

Much of the debate this fall about the playoff has centered on whether it is inherently unfair to programs outside the Power Five — most notably Central Florida, which is on 22-game win streak but stands virtually no chance of making the playoff.

UCF, due to its schedule, isn’t being mistreated by the committee, though. That said, an eight-team playoff would allow room for it to come in as a No. 8 seed and take an underdog swing at whoever earned the right to be No. 1.

I know my snark isn’t going to sway any of you committed eight-team advocates, but I’ll leave you with a question just the same.  How does any of Wetzel’s argument for an eight-team field not apply equally to a sixteen-team field?

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72 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

72 responses to ““It would be a fun embrace of Cinderella for a sport that hates Cinderella.”

  1. gastr1

    Well, you’ve heard this before, Senator, but it at least allows for each undefeated or 1-loss champion of a power 5 conference and any undefeated/1-loss independent, but not likely any 2-loss teams.

    A 16-team playoff would almost certainly get down to multiple two-loss teams.

    Like

    • Guys like Wetzel see that as a feature, not a bug.

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    • A 16-team playoff will never work. You would have to cut out the conference championship games (and possibly a regular season game) for a 1st round (the leagues especially the SEC isn’t going to let that happen). The quarterfinals would have to be during or right before fall semester finals (bowl assignments couldn’t be made until this happens). The semifinals and championship game are left alone.

      It would be a mess that would show the hypocrisy of big-time college athletics compared to S-A welfare and education.

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    • but not likely any 2-loss teams

      In 2014, there were two 2-loss teams in the final CFP top 8.
      In 2015, there were two 2-loss teams.
      In 2016, there were three 2-loss teams and one 3-loss team.
      In 2017, there were two 2-loss team and one 3-loss team.

      It may allow for better conference representation, but going to 8 practically guarantees 2-loss teams getting into the playoff. If you go to 16, you’ll have multiple 3-loss teams (half the field in some years), and maybe a four loss team in there somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Timphd

    Put me on the list of people who never want further expansion. I want the Alabama/Auburn game to matter, not be one Bama could afford to rest Tua for example and then play UGA for the marbles. Same with UGA/Tech. If you are not clearly in the top four, you have no argument. The idea isn’t to “give everyone a shot”. In my mind it is the four best teams who get to play the games. NOT some Cinderella. The national champ should be decided by playing three games involving the four best teams, no matter what conference and no matter what title they do or don’t have. UCF would get embarrased by any of the top six or seven teams in the rankings, and could only make for poor football on the field. I feel I am in the minority on this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nope, I agree with every word. I like 4 teams but absolutely detest the committee and its weekly shenanigans. If there’s going to be a committee, let them go to Dallas on championship weekend because that’s the only time what they say matters.

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      • Well what does it matter if they meet beforehand? Not sure that would change anything if they met just once after conference championships.

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        • My point exactly … it’s a waste of time on the committee’s part if they are truly starting with a blank sheet of paper every week. They meet to provide ESPN with broadcasting material and to suck more oxygen out of the room that is the college football regular season. If you aren’t in the CFP picture, you don’t matter. You could make the case that the rest of the regular season only matters for about 7 teams because of the release of the weekly rankings by the committee.

          The basketball selection committee doesn’t meet every week from January 15 to Selection Sunday and release a current version of the 64 teams in, those on bubble watch and the seeding of the top 25.

          Why does the CFP committee need to meet in October or this time of November?

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    • Erk's Forehead

      Agree. There’ll never be a perfect system. The pursuit of more $$ will ruin a good product on the field. I despise the NFL system. Of course, I also can’t stand the MLB divisional playoffs.

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    • Chopdawg

      I think the Auburn-Alabama game will always matter, whether the two teams are in playoff contention or not.

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      • Tony Barnfart

        Probably said that too when Tech exited the SEC. Not saying it doesn’t matter, but it would look a lot like the one to our west had they never left.

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  3. Down island way

    Tiiieiiieeeiim is on my side, yes it is……

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  4. JasonC

    UCF isn’t even in ESPN’s top 25 FPI (power index) or whatever it’s called.

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  5. David K

    I think the fact that Georgia hadn’t played Bama last year helped their chances to get in. If we beat them in the SEC Championship game, I think their chances of getting in are slim. They don’t want to set up another rematch if we had just beat them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tony Barnfart

      This. The Gumps ain’t getting in with a loss to us the day before the selection. Not without something totally crazy.

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  6. David K

    I guarantee we’ll go to 8 soon. They’ll make it the 5 champions and 3 at large. Then they’ll swear that’s the end of it and that they’ll never expand beyond that.

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  7. Mick Jagger

    8 seems reasonable – 5 champs. 1 GO5, 2 at large.

    Also, I heard someone propose a Group of 5 playoff. That would be interesting (moreso than those early bowls).

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    • Macallanlover

      Group of 5 is crazy to not have already gone in this direction. Much more likely to happen, and more profitable to have a series of games with little competition for viewers than have one team in a NYD Bowl.

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  8. Bob

    If Clemson, Michigan and ND win out, I think they are in. Bama got in last year because Big Ten and PAC 12 Champs had 2 losses. But Senator, as you know and I have preached all along, we are on that slippery slope and it is eventually coming to 8 and more. We will render that regular season less and less meaningless. Look at the ratings for regular season College Basketball…the games mean zilch. And there are some who actually want to let everyone in to March Madness. Playoff addicts are playoff addicts.

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  9. NCDawg

    I just want Cincy to beat UCF this weekend and stop the UCF madness.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I would ideally like 8 also, for the same reasons others have mentioned- 5 conference champs, 3 at large (or 1 P5 and 2 at large). That just seems logical to me, and would still not diminish the importance of the regular season. I do understand that it would almost certainly expand to 16 teams a few more years down the road, and that’s where the quality of the playoff would really be diminished.

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  11. Macallanlover

    Same old beyond ridiculous scare tactic about 16. Ain’t happening. Anything that gets us to eight is wonderful, but I disagree with Wetzel’s thought about 2 SEC teams getting in under that scenario. The SECCG is a play in game with the loser going elsewhere for a bowl game…and that is fair. But man, the discussion is going to be wild as everyone digs in for their team getting the spot. Under that proposal Clemson and ND will not even be a serious argument. Michigan will stay if they win out. I would love for the Committee to have the gonads to leave Michigan out, but that would leave the sudden death of Delany on their conscience.

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  12. Senator,
    They have thus far always had the 4 best teams which is how it is designed. Why mess with success? They should leave it alone.

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  13. Gaskilldawg

    The ESPN Invitational is an ESPN property. It wishes to give out invitations in the manner which best serves ESPN.

    A lot of people think it is some benevolent act by ESPN to give fans a”true champion.” More viewers will watch, and advertisers will pay more for, 2 big name teams play than Washington State against Iowa State even if Washington State and Iowa State were undefeated conference champions.

    What it means for us is to be a team that will attract a lot of viewers nationally as well as a top caliber team. Fortunately we have inherent advantages that make that also automatic.

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  14. Michael

    The point of a playoff should be to include every team that has a viable claim to being the best in the country. In Wetzel’s scenario, both Michigan and Oklahoma would have that claim, as they are right next to UGA right now in the advanced metrics, so if UGA could beat Bama, then those two could as well. A four-team playoff omits them. An eight-team playoff does not. There’s no team lurking at #9 with a reasonable claim to being the best. That’s why eight is a defensible number in a way that 16 is not.

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    • Wetzel gives the game away when he brings up the “C” word.

      My problem with your defense of an eight-team field is that, 2007 excepted, we’ve never experienced a season when there were 8 teams with a legitimate argument that they deserved to be in consideration for the national title.

      Once you head down the road where non-contenders are included, it hardly matters whether the field is 8, 12 or 16.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dawgoholic

      So because the #1 team could possibly be beaten by another team, teams equal to that team should get in. So if Auburn beats Bama does that mean we need a 32 team playoff???
      Btw, Clemson, Bama, and ND DESERVE a chance this year because they have gone undefeated against at least halfway decent schedules. Everyone else is hoping to get lucky and lost control of their destiny when they lost – some are fortunate enough due to their scheduling and/or conference difficulty to now control their destiny again.

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  15. Codie Alan

    6 is all you need, that way all the Power 5 conference champions get in (brings value to winning your conference) and there is one at-large spot for the highest ranked group of 5 team and it forces ND to join the ACC). Seeds 1 & 2 get a bye the first round while 3-6 battle it out. 8 is too many and shouldn’t even be in consideration IMO.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ND isn’t going to be forced to do anything. They’ll sue ESPN and the Power 5 before they give up their NBC contract to be one of 15 in the ACC. ESPN isn’t going to pony up for anything that keeps ND out.

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    • CB

      Why not just go back to BCS rankings? Top 6 get in. 9 times out of 10 if you win a P5 you’ll be in the top 6, but automatic berths leaves the door open for a 4 loss division champ (Northwestern) to pull off an upset and make it into the field.

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  16. CB

    The simple answer to you question is that he’s talking about 8 teams and 5 conferences being included. That argument wouldn’t carry over to a 16 team playoff.

    That said, I don’t see Bama getting in on you have 2-3 other one loss P5 champions in Oklahoma, Michigan, Wazzou.

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  17. There is only one “snoozy November Saturday”. Every other one is pretty damn good.

    If UCF wants to hang with the big boys than quit playing a wuss schedule. It’s a joke.

    If you go to 8 or 16, there will be numerous unintended consequences lazy pundits let haven’t even thought of yet.

    Let’s say it goes to 8, the 9th team and the Dan Wetzels will be crying about someone getting left out.

    Let’s say the do expand and UCF type team is in – there is no possible way that a team like that is going to beat PROGRAMS like Georgia, Clemson, and Alabama three weeks in a row. It’s impossible .

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    • Tony Barnfart

      UCF (in a recent article) claims they can’t get the games because big time teams won’t do home-and-homes with them and they believe they are above the Buy-game…….to be fair, they say it’s bad for growing a fan base (not having good opponents in your stadium) which is a position that is not without merit.

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      • Macallanlover

        They think wrong. FSU had the blueprint for rising to the top, let them play road games and earn their respect. The buy-in will be more expensive to land them but there is a path, they just want the easy path…doesn’t most everyone. Screw ’em. Teams that award themselves titles deserve nothing close to respect.

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        • Tony Barnfart

          Good point. And FSU did that BEFORE the massive amount of TV content, in a time where if they weren’t in Tallahassee it was likely their fans wouldn’t get to see them play. Now, that out-of-sight / mind principle is much less problematic.

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  18. DawgPhan

    I think that a Big 10 champion Michigan gets in over a 1 loss Bama for all these reason.

    Throw the Big 10 a bone after getting shutout last season and probably push back on some of the expansion talk.

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  19. hassan

    An 8 team playoff would help. But to really settle it, we need a 130 team playoff. Of course, at the very least, the FCS champion should get a shot as well. We all know any one of them can compete on any given Saturday. So really then, a 130+1 team playoff would settle things..But that would still leave out the true Cinderellas of Div III. So maybe we should seriously look at an infinity team playoff? You know…to make it exciting.

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  20. SouthernYank

    I enjoy and encourage your snark.

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  21. Chopdawg

    “How does any of Wetzel’s argument for an eight-team field not apply equally to a sixteen-team field?”

    Seems to me that Wetzel’s arguing for all P5 conference champs to be included in the playoffs. That doesn’t require 16 slots.

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  22. JCDawg83

    I’ll say it again. The best option is to go to 8 12 team conferences, let the 35 or so that are left out go to FCS and ND has to get over itself and get in a conference. Let each conference determine it’s champion however it wants to and have a three round, 8 team playoff of conference champions to decide the national championship. If a conference has three great teams ranked in the top 5 to end the regular season, two of them are going to be disappointed and can talk forever about how they really should have gone to the playoff instead of some weaker team from another conference, that is one of the great things about sports, the “what ifs”.

    Until the highest level of college football’s national championship is decided on the field in an objective playoff format any claimed “championship” will be a sham.

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    • Macallanlover

      Have no issue with 8 conference winners, or a four 16 team conferences with four winners from their championship game, but that is so much harder than expanding to eight immediately. Unraveling the contracts and lawsuits would take decades, imo.

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  23. Tony Barnfart

    To settle this AND keep the 4 team playoff, you could institute TBD blocked in seeded non-conference scheduling during the last few weeks of November. Think SEC-Big 12 challenge in basketball.

    Play 8 straight SEC games to start the season, with the SEC title game in late October, with the non-participants playing a 9th mandatory inter-divisional game that is set on which division is home/away for at least a modicum of planning.

    Every P5 then plays 4 straight non-conference games in November. Home or Away and Conf vs. Conf has a specific rotation. All seeded according to their finish within the conference. Of course, this would require the Pac12 and Big 12 to expand to 14—maybe Notre Dame could rotate between those two for who they “caucus” with. This at least sorts out some of it, keeps the regular season in tact with a compelling November “mystery” opponent(s).

    /Not sure what happens to Tech.

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  24. Junkyardawg41

    For those of you who think an 8 team playoff would include the P5 Conference champs plus some at large teams, you are sadly mistaken. If conference championships don’t matter now, it won’t matter with 8 teams. The mandate for the “best” teams” may end up having 3 teams from one conference. To the Senator’s point, what changes from 4,8,12,16 + from a best team approach? I can’t see it.

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  25. gastr1

    Also, there’s no reason it couldn’t be six teams instead of eight.

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  26. W Cobb Dawg

    Only way 2 sec teams get in is if these teams lose a game: ND, Mich, tOSU, WVA, Ok, clemmons and WSU. Two of those 7 teams will definitely loose in head-to-head games. So that will leave at most 5 teams vying for 3 spots. Oh, and bama must lose to us also. Not very good odds for the sec, but it’s happened before…

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  27. whb209

    Leave it just the way it is…
    When you have 5 or 6 teams bitching that they should have been in the play-off, it only helps college football. Bitch all year and everyone will be pumped for the next year to start.

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  28. UGA '97

    MO playoff games = mo football = good, luv it

    Like

  29. Larry R Butler

    Auburn..you had one job
    beat UCF.
    A lot of this is your fault.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I’m not sure why this is a question because the answer is simple:

    The 8 team playoff includes all 5 Power5 champions.

    That is its primary feature and it is 100% accomplished by 8 teams and is not an argument in any way, shape, or fashion for a 16 team playoff.

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  31. Texas Dawg

    No matter how may teams get in, there will always be complaining. How many teams get and invite to March Madness now? 64, 65? Even with that number 66, 67,68… is jumping up and down swearing they got the shaft and the system is stacked against them.

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  32. 904Dawg

    I think that a 6 team playoff would be best. You could take all power 5 champions plus 1 at large. That at large would be an undefeated group of 5 team or if there isn’t one of those then a power 5 conference runner up. If the big boys win their conference championship then they’re in no matter if they have 1 or 2 losses. The group of 5 would obviously need to win their conference championship but also sport an undefeated record. The automatic bid for the power 5 might also push us to at least a 9 game conference schedule since it wouldn’t kill a teams chance if they have 1 or even 2 losses. There will be issues with any format but I think this is the one that at least gives every team a legitimate shot at a NC on any given year.

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  33. PBR1975

    The problem that I see, and the scenario that I could actually see playing out is a one loss team winning a conference title over a #1 undefeated (regular season) team getting left out. Some say that WHEN the Dawgs beat Bama that Bama will stay in the top 4 even with Clemson and the Domers staying undefeated and Michigan winning their conference. Can anyone say that Mich. isn’t playing like one of the top 4 teams? No. So, what does that do for the Dawgs if you leave Bama in as a conference loser? #5!! Do you kick out a one loss Michigan Conference Winner? If so, how? Why play the Conference Championship game? Worked for Bama last year (Not even a Division Winner).

    My Solution:
    -Expand to 6 teams
    -The 5 conference winners and one at-large.
    -Reseed
    -1 & 2 get a first round by
    -Have a play in game the week after conference title game for 3 – 6
    -Proceed as usual for the Semi and Final
    Oh and this still leaves Bama or Notre Dame out in this (Let the arguments start for the At-Large or Notre Dame can get into a conference).

    Like