Thursday, June 21, 2012
Poll: How many teams will make playoffs?
By Edward Aschoff
SEC commissioner Mike Slive was all smiles as he exited Wednesday's BCS meetings. And he had good reason.
The four-team playoff model that the BCS commissioners will show to the BCS presidential oversight committee, which meets June 26 in Washington, D.C., makes sure that the SEC will almost always get at least one team in college football's future playoff with its conference champion.
But that's not what made Slive so happy. He's excited about the chance to possibly getting two teams, or more, into the playoff. Now, getting three would be wonderful for Slive, but even he knows the chances of two teams that didn't win their conference making it into the playoff are very slim. Slive is also holding out hope to have two teams in, which would have happened for the SEC three times during the BCS era, had there been a four-team playoff.
So we'll concern ourselves with focusing on the SEC getting two teams into the playoffs.
Will it happen more often than not, sometimes or rarely ever?
If recent history means anything at all, it isn't totally farfetched that the SEC could regularly send two teams to the playoffs. According to BCS standings, the SEC has had two teams ranked in the top four three times (2006, 2008 and 2011) during the BCS' 14 years. That's not a great percentage, but those three have occurred pretty recently. And it's not like this league is getting any worse.
Alabama and LSU appear to be hear to stay. Georgia finally got over its SEC East hump last season. South Carolina and Arkansas are on the rise. Florida is still recruiting at a high level. And Auburn is only a year removed from a national title.
But league commissioners want the future playoff committee to put a strong emphasis on conference championships and strength of schedule. For starters, the SEC isn't exactly known to go out and consistently schedule tough non-conference opponents. Cupcakes and stat inflators have been much more prominent. That could hurt the SEC in its quest to get two teams in, unless its teams start scheduling outside of their comfort zones.
And when the commissioners say they want conference champions to carry a little more weight, they are really hoping their committee puts aside the SEC's past success and focuses on the current season. That means a conference championship could be used as a tiebreaker to separate a No. 4 SEC school and a No. 5 conference champion.
Also, this conference could just beat itself up too much, too often to send two teams to the playoffs.
Slive is happy with the future of a four-team playoff, but will it really payoff for the league the way he expects? Let us know what you think.