A four-team playoff in college football? What a fantastic thing that would be

by Berry Tramel Published: March 3, 2012
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“So much of the passion of a move to a playoff is to see it earned on the field,” Scott told The New York Times. “What more clear way to have intellectual consistency with the idea of a playoff than to earn it as a conference champion?

“It would de-emphasize the highly subjective polls that are based on a coach and media voting and a few computers.”

Wow. I like that guy.

Even Kramer said much the same thing, to cbsssports.com: “It makes those conference championship games bigger. It makes the regular season bigger.”

Such a format last season would have produced semifinals of LSU-Wisconsin and OSU-Oregon.

Everybody seems to want those played on home fields, which I think is goofy, but I won't quibble.

Playing the semifinals on home fields would free up the bowls to continue their traditions — the Rose Bowl would not have to hold its nose for Oklahoma State or Louisiana State to play in its game.

And playing the semifinals on home fields would pacify those poor souls who want to keep the polls or the BCS rankings empowered. Somebody would have to decide who gets to play and host.

“There's concern about selection,” Neinas admitted. “For example, strength of schedule is not currently used. You're going to have strength of schedule in there.”

Even better news. Returning a strength of schedule element to the process would do more than protect the regular season, it would enhance September. Could motivate teams to beef up their schedules; putrid nonconference games are the bane of college football.

Some have criticized the champions-only model, saying every playoff in the world embraces wild cards.

I don't know if that's true. But this is true: No playoff in the world includes wild cards to the exclusion of champions.

Yeah, March Madness is full of at-large teams. But the champs are in, too. Baseball just added another wild-card team to its October, but a primary benefit was to enhance the status of division winners. Sure, the NFL has wild cards, and like Alabama, sometimes they win the whole enchilada. But NFL division winners aren't shut out of the process; they even get at least one guaranteed home game.

So shed no tears for second-place teams omitted from a four-team tournament. They had their at-bats.

The recent BCS meetings left everyone involved thinking change was coming.

The Big 12, which a couple of years ago helped torpedo an expanded playoff, is now on board.

“The sentiment is, the majority wants some type of four-team arrangement,” Neinas said.

“Among the majors (conferences), there's no desire to go beyond four.”

Four's plenty. Especially if all four are champions.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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