New playoff format shouldn't hurt SEC

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
10:34
AM ET
ESPN Insider Brad Edwards, who's tracked the BCS standings as closely as anybody the past few years, doesn't think the new college football playoff format being discussed will do much to slow down the SEC.

I agree with Edwards and think it's equally comical that SEC commissioner Mike Slive pitched the "plus-one" format a few years ago only to have officials in the Big Ten and Pac-12 look at him as if he were trying to sell them beachfront property in Arkansas.

Well, here we are a few BCS national championships later (all won by SEC schools), and suddenly there's mounting support for a four-team playoff.

Funny how that happens.

As Edwards points out, at least one SEC team would have been included in a four-team playoff in nine of the past 10 seasons, using the BCS standings as the vehicle to seed the top four teams. And in three of the past six seasons, two SEC teams would have been included.

The SEC has 12 top-four finishes in the BCS standings over the past 10 years. The Big 12 is second with nine, followed by the Big Ten and Pac-12 each with seven.

One of the things the Big Ten is supposedly pushing for is playing the two semifinal games at the sites of the two highest-seeded teams. The Big Ten's thinking is that getting an SEC team in a cold-weather environment in January would work to the Big Ten's advantage.

I also like the idea of playing the semifinal games on campus sites, but the Big Ten might want to be careful what it's wishing for. How would Wisconsin have fared at Tiger Stadium last season? How would Michigan have fared at Bryant-Denny Stadium?

For that matter, how has Ohio State fared against any SEC team in any bowl setting?

One caveat that's being discussed that the SEC wouldn't be in favor of is mandating that only conference champions be eligible to participate in the four-team playoff. Take last season, for instance. The top three teams in the BCS standings going into the final week of the regular season were all from the SEC -- 1. LSU, 2. Alabama and 3. Arkansas.

It's pretty obvious that we're finally moving toward a four-team playoff, and it could be in place as early as the 2014 season. The presidents and chancellors will have the final say, and there's still the whole Rose Bowl issue that the Big Ten and Pac-12 have to solve.

However it shakes out, the SEC is still going to be the conference to beat.

And unless there's some stipulation in place about having to win your conference championship to be eligible (which would be bogus), then those of you who moaned and groaned about seeing two SEC teams in the championship game last season might want to get used to it.

Chris Low | email

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