Joe Castiglione warned us last week that a four-team college football playoff might not be automatic, as we all assumed. Warned us that a compromise might be necessary to take any steps in the eternal quest for postseason satisfaction.
Now we know what the OU athletic director was talking about.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott told The Wall Street Journal a few days ago that the new Big 12/SEC partnership could bring about a “plus-one” model for college football.
Plus-one would not be good news for playoff zealots. Plus-one is a two-team playoff, only the teams are selected after the bowls instead of before.
But a plus-one would be great news for the new Big 12/SEC bowl game, which purports to match those conferences' champions in a bowl starting with the 2014 season.
In a four-team playoff system, such a bowl would really be nothing more than the current Cotton Bowl, which matches Big 12 and SEC runners-up. The champs of both leagues would be included in a four-team playoff most years.
But in a plus-one system, the new Big 12/SEC bowl — modeled after the Rose Bowl — would be a virtual national semifinal most seasons.
And the plus-one seems to be a viable option right now.
“We might not get to one of those (four-team) models right now,” a Big 12 insider told me the other day. “We may not see enough support for one of these models. Best first step might be a plus-one.
“I heard a little bit of chatter about that in the last few weeks. Almost like if we can't get to an agreement on these other models, the best we can do is an agreement on the plus-one.
“Everybody realizes change is imminent, but will people be able to accept a lot of change is the question.”
A Big 12/SEC champions showdown with a plus-one format would have placed the winner in the Big Bowl most seasons in the 2000s.
Certainly in 2011 (OSU-LSU), 2009 (Texas-Alabama), 2008 (OU-Florida), 2007 (OU-LSU) and 2004 (OU-Auburn).
In other years, one of the two teams would have been automatic with a victory: 2010 Auburn (vs. OU), 2006 Florida (vs. OU), 2005 Texas (vs. Georgia), 2003 LSU (vs. Kansas State), 2001 Colorado (vs. LSU) and 2000 OU (vs. Florida).
But absolutely, a plus-one would elevate the Big 12/SEC bowl into the most elite of status. Because of the SEC's and Big 12's prowess, their bowl would trump all.