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I know Halloween was last week, but I’m going to let you in on a few horrifying realities. The first will make you question humanity in general. The second will make you question the direction of college football.
First, did you know there are 5,472,526 people who “Like” Flo the Progressive Girl on Facebook? Flo is the most annoying company pitch-woman of all time and I’d almost promise to buy Progressive Insurance if they’d just fire her. I’d also wear a Progressive hat when I golf, not only shilling for an insurance company, but potentially making people think I’m a member of that group with weird, flaky political views.
Second, there’s an outside chance the SEC gets shut out of the CFB Playoff. I know. Both of these things sound impossible, but their reality exists.
I can’t explain the first aside from over 5 million people having no soul. The second, I can.
This is how it goes down: Alabama beats Mississippi State; Alabama loses to Auburn; Mississippi State loses to Ole Miss; Missouri … the current leader in the SEC East … beats the SEC West champ. You can throw Georgia defeating Auburn in there too if it makes you feel better, but it probably doesn’t matter either way.
At this point, your SEC West champ has three losses and isn’t even the conference champion. Your conference champion is from the tepid-bath-water SEC East and isn’t getting in. And there you go, doomsday scenario that honestly isn’t incredibly far-fetched.
All of this is obviously contingent on the remainder of the conferences producing unbeaten Florida State and one-loss champions from the Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-12. We know this much: Oregon is in if it wins out. Because of the strength of the Pac-12, Arizona State is in if it wins out too. The Ducks and Sun Devils are in the same realm as the SEC with that … so long as the Pac-12 produces a one-loss team, that team will get in.
The question is, what happens if this happens? What happens if the SEC West champ has multiple losses and loses to Missouri, and especially Missouri, because Missouri got tagged at home by a Big Ten middle of the road team, the Indiana Hoosiers?
Look, I get that arguing hypotheticals … especially ones that take a Super Mario Bros. 3 amount of steps to get to the end result … is sort of like raking leaves in a wind storm.
But rest assured, there’s a doomsday scenario out there that is bound to happen. Would the CFB Playoff committee take a deep breath and put the four best teams in if the four best teams might look like they don’t come from the allegedly vaunted SEC?
Or… are we operating with a system in which certain teams are guaranteed slots before the season starts based on region? We just play the games to find out the exact names? Neither idea is anything close to ideal.
The slate is supposed to be clean coming into the season, which is why the idea of the CFB Playoff committee not releasing rankings until late October makes a whole hell of a lot more sense in a senseless world than a far worse alternative: polls from week one on.
Whether or not the slate really is clean is another question. Human beings by nature have biases and opinions on most anything. Nothing, no one, is truly “objective” in any sense of the word. Those who say they are fall in the class of those who say, “I’m a really nice guy.” That most assuredly means you are not.
At any rate, SEC doomsday might cause the revamping of the postseason system a whole lot sooner than we imagined. Normally, we all figured it’d take some five to seven years before some impossible scenario happens that makes the end result unfair for someone and everyone immediately freaks out and wants 8, 12, or 16 teams.
That is doomsday for college football right there. People will go do other things on Saturday if the prospect of 8 or 16 teams starts creeping into the reality. While the four-team playoff somewhat devalues the regular season’s intensity and takes away the “regular season IS the playoffs” mantra, it does leave more teams with a shot and that’s the trade-off. Whether you like it or not depends on who you are.
However, an SEC team left out might bring the requisite outrage required to just walk in the house and rearrange the furniture once again, buyer’s remorse style. It’d be the ultimate, “I realized after a week with her, I made a mistake, so let’s start over” moment for the sport.
It’ll take something drastic to move on from the playoff system, and leaving an SEC team out probably would do it. Will it happen? Absolutely not. The above scenario is not only unlikely, it depends on the fortunes of others as well, and that’s a total crapshoot.
College football’s best step forward is a movement toward mega conferences that inadvertently feature an “8 team playoff” by gutting one of the Power 5; spreading those teams out across the remaining four conferences; having “conference only” schedules; a championship game which acts as a “quarterfinal” in each conference; and then a tournament of the four teams that win each conference.
Personally, I think that’s eventually where we’re headed next. It’d trim the top off of the Gang of Five and allow those stronger programs into what would become the “Power 4” conferences, and away we go. Everyone would feel equally as though they had a shot. Everyone knows the deal and what you have to do going in.
Then, it becomes like everything else: win your division and get in the playoffs in pro sports; win a conference tourney and get in with college basketball; place in certain spaces in automobile racing and get points (I think); place in certain tournaments to get into majors in golf.
That’s the utopian end to all of this, and while some from certain regions might get chaffed at that, who cares? You have a real system with a defined path.
We’re a bit away from that … until the SEC gets squeezed out. It could happen this year. Five million people publicly admit to liking Flo. Never doubt the impossible.