Scoggins: Any college football playoff plan is better than status quo

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 5, 2012 - 12:39 PM

 College football's movers and shakers disagree on format, but a better system for naming a champion is on the way.


Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany

Photo: Paul Beaty, Associated Press file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

College football will institute a playoff starting in 2014. That seems hardly disputable at this point, thankfully, since the sport's method for determining a champion remains an outdated and convoluted process that triggers annual hand-wringing.

How a playoff ultimately will look is stirring up lively discussion, strong viewpoints and some snide comments that could intensify as conference commissioners seek compromise on a postseason model at several high-level meetings this month.

As it stands, top conference officials differ on the format, the number of teams involved and the selection process. Their differences aired in tones that some liken to a political debate.

The Big Ten weighed in Monday following a meeting of league presidents and chancellors and announced its preferred options. The conference's leaders scribbled "status quo" at the top of their list, which is wasted energy because preserving the current bowl system is no longer an option and the Big Ten knows it.

Commissioner Jim Delany said the presidents' second choice is a plus-one model -- a matchup of the two highest-ranked teams after bowl games. Their third choice is a four-team playoff, which is the most likely scenario and a model the Big Ten appears willing to back under certain conditions.

(My preference remains an eight-team playoff, but that's too much change for a discussion that's moved at glacial speed. My hope is that a four-team playoff eventually will expand to eight in the future, but this is a good starting point.)

The main sticking point is the method used to select the four teams. The SEC is steadfast in its belief that the four highest-ranked teams should advance to the playoff, to the degree that Florida president Bernie Machen insisted the league would not compromise. That was a direct shot at conferences -- the Big Ten included -- that prefer automatic qualifiers for top-ranked league champions, even though Delany never actually drew a line in the sand on this issue.

We tend to side with the best-four model. In the most logical sense, if you're going to have a four-team playoff, shouldn't it include the best four teams? Alabama didn't win the SEC last season but held the national championship trophy on the final night, a scenario that couldn't happen in a playoff model with only automatic qualifiers.

But this discussion requires some form of compromise. One idea floated is a so-called "three-and-one" model in which the three highest-rated conference champions and one wild card advance to the playoff. This model would allow a conference to send two teams -- one champion, one at-large -- to the playoff, which ultimately might be palatable to the SEC, which has won six consecutive BCS championships.

Delany agreed that any playoff should include the four best teams, but here's the rub: How do you pick that group? Delany finally joined the chorus of anti-BCS folks in acknowledging the current system is inherently flawed. The Big Ten prefers a selection committee, but that option lends itself to biases and self-interests.

This is where things get messy. The BCS formula, which combines computer rankings and human polls, lacks transparency and is overly confusing. As others have noted, Oregon finished one spot below Stanford in the final BCS rankings last season despite winning the Pac-12 title and drilling Stanford by 23 points. Oregon finished the regular season with one more loss than Stanford, but that came against LSU.

It's hard to support any system that produces that type of result. However, the thought of a committee of 10 or so individuals locked in a board room to decide a four-team field doesn't sound all that appealing either.

This is not the same as the college basketball selection committee picking the 68-team tournament field. Whatever team gets left out of that postseason probably deserved it and wouldn't win the title anyway. Imagine the pressure and scrutiny a football committee would endure in choosing between the fourth- and fifth-best team. Plus, how would you find anyone associated with college football who doesn't own some sort of bias?

There is no perfect formula though, and everyone must show some compromise. But at least they're having this discussion. A playoff in college football is inevitable. That's certainly better than status quo.

Chip Scoggins •

  • related content

  • Sandusky jurors include Penn State senior, ex-prof

    Wednesday June 6, 2012

    Most of the men and women who may render a verdict in Jerry Sandusky's child sexual abuse case have been chosen, and their ranks reflect the strong role Penn State...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 42 2nd Qtr 2:45
Cleveland 48
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Detroit 6:00 PM
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 39 2nd Half 12:10
Butler 48
NJIT 55 2nd Half 7:43
South Alabama 50
Northern Iowa 12 1st Half 7:49
Illinois State 10
Louisville 26 1st Half 7:40
Pittsburgh 22
UMBC 3:40 PM
Niagara 4:00 PM
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Washington 7:30 PM
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 60 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 59 2nd Half 12:06
Marquette 46
Providence 18 2nd Half
DePaul 49
Northeastern 46 2nd Half 11:20
Elon 57
(2) Connecticut 84 2nd Half 5:47
Cincinnati 23
Oregon 54 2nd Half 4:58
Arizona 62
Bradley 19 2nd Half
Loyola-Chicago 23
NC State 32 2nd Half 13:06
(23) Syracuse 39
(7) Maryland 47 2nd Half 20:00
Indiana 29
Illinois State 27 2nd Half 11:55
Missouri State 34
Colorado 19 1st Half 10:05
Washington St 12
Tulane 9 1st Half 9:20
South Florida 19
(14) Kentucky 23 1st Half 9:15
Missouri 20
(9) Oregon State 16 1st Half 9:45
(13) Arizona State 17
Vermont 3:30 PM
UMass Lowell
Iowa State 3:30 PM
(8) Texas
Southern Ill 3:45 PM
Wichita State
(15) Duke 4:00 PM
(12) North Carolina
Miami-Florida 4:00 PM
(4) Louisville
(21) Minnesota 4:15 PM
(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM


question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters