Good news, bad news on future playoff

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
11:00
AM ET
The good news out of the latest BCS meetings Wednesday: a consensus has been reached on a four-team playoff.

Finally.

But there is bad news, particularly for a conference like the Big East. Sources told ESPN.com that under the recommended model, a selection committee would pick the four teams to make the playoff. That committee would consider certain criteria such as conference championships and strength of schedule. Being a conference champion is not going to be a requirement.

As you already know, the Big East was against a selection committee, and wanted some sort of weight to be given to conference champions.

[+] EnlargeBoise State's Chris Petersen
Kyle Terada/US PRESSWIREWill Chris Petersen and future Big East member Boise State be hurt by having a committee deciding if they're worthy of playing for a national title?
The honest truth is that the Big East was not in any position of power during these meetings, especially given all the recent talk from conference commissioners that there were only really five major conferences. Even if the Big East had a full-time commissioner at these meetings, the power brokers would not have been swayed from a different selection method.

Forgive me for my cynical skepticism here, but I fear for conferences like the Big East with a selection committee in charge. How do we know that the group of men charged with making the decisions are going to choose the best four teams while turning a blind eye to conference affiliation? Particularly when a league like the Big East has such a weak national perception.

Interestingly, the idea of a selection committee seemed to be dead -- even a month ago. At both the Big East and ACC spring meetings, neither coaches nor the commissioners even addressed the idea of a selection committee because it was not a real option at the time.

The idea only picked up steam in recent weeks, when it appeared to be one solution to all the different ideas for how to pick the teams to make a playoff. It also could be perceived to be a way for conferences like the SEC and Big Ten to try and protect their own interests.

Would anybody be surprised if the selection committee ended up picking a one-loss team from the Big Ten over an undefeated Boise State team for the final spot in a playoff? Particularly given all the national skepticism surrounding Boise State?

These are all pessimistic questions, but ones that surely must be asked. If strength of schedule is going to play a role in selecting a team from the Big 12/SEC/Big Ten/Pac-12 over a team from the Big East, you can probably guess which way the committee will go. What will make matters worse for the Big East in the strength of schedule argument is conference realignment.

Most conferences are moving to a nine-game conference schedule. The Big East is not. That means there are going to be fewer opportunities for teams from the Big East to beef up nonconference schedules in order to show any type of selection committee that it has played the toughest schedule possible. Let's not forget the Pac-12 and Big Ten have a scheduling agreement in place, making it that much harder to get a game with teams from that league.

You can look at what West Virginia did this year in its move to the Big 12 to see that teams with more league games are not going to play nonconference schedules that are deemed too tough. Or you can just look at the entire SEC.

A team like Boise State already has a hard enough time getting games against marquee opponents. How are the Broncos expected to pick up some tough nonconference games when 1) so few national powers want to play them and 2) there are fewer slots for marquee teams to schedule these games?

Even if Boise State wanted to play all four of its nonconference games on the road against Alabama, USC, Michigan and Texas, the likelihood of that happening is almost nil.

I still think a playoff is good for college football, because it gives two more teams a chance to play for a national championship. But I worry about the role of the selection committee and how conferences outside the "power structure" are going to do. Whether you think it is fair or not, the Big East is going to be outside the power structure.

My hope is the selection committee will make the right decisions and pick the four most deserving teams to make a playoff, regardless of conference affiliation. My fear is that conferences outside the power structure will continue to be locked out.

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