Commentary

In the Playoff, humans matter again

Updated: August 12, 2014, 2:23 PM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

I'm going to miss the Bowl Championship Series much the same way I'd miss secondhand smoke, cellphones at dinner and people who examine their own earwax.

Michael Corleone had it right: It's not personal, it's strictly business. The BCS was full of good intentions, but it was a kazoo quartet in a Fightin' Texas Aggie Band world. It needed to go away.

Now -- cue the percussion section -- we get the College Football Playoff! Admittedly, the name needs some vitamin pills, and the logo looks more like swan wings and a flow chart than an actual football. But those are quibbles.

The CFP has its own Rudy-inspired commercial. The BCS never had that. If you made a commercial about the BCS, it would have been titled, "Mama, we tried."

The CFP has its own online merchandise store. Do you ever remember anybody wearing BCS gear? In public? On purpose? Didn't think so.

[+] EnlargeBCS Painting
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesIt's goodbye to the Bowl Championship Series, and so long to the crystal ball.

There's also a countdown clock on the CFP website. We can't wait for the playoff to begin. With the BCS, we couldn't wait for it to end.

Thanks to the CFP (did I mention the name needs some work?), Jan. 1 means something again. Humans mean something again.

You say the Supreme Court is the most powerful ruling body in the world. I say the 13-person CFP selection committee has lapped the D.C. Nine. I'll take committee member Barry Alvarez over Justice Antonin Scalia six days a week and twice on football Saturdays.

The selection committee, which includes Hall of Famers such as Wisconsin's Alvarez, Archie Manning and Tom Osborne, has forgotten more about football than the BCS computers and the poll voters will ever know. And the committee members who didn't coach -- or, as Pat Dye so eloquently put it, never played with their "hand in the dirt" -- will figure it out fast enough. They can't be any worse than some of the knuckleheads who voted in the coaches' or Harris polls.

Will we agree with the committee's every decision? No. Will we at least have a voice and explanation attached to those decisions? Yes, and his name is Jeff Long, committee chairman and Arkansas athletic director. If you remember how Long conducted himself during the Bobby Petrino dismissal, you know you'll get straight answers to your CFP straight questions. I'll take that over the murkiness of the BCS "formula."

The arrival of the four-team playoff will mean the departure of the public lobbying system. No more Auburn AD Jay Jacobs saying it would be "un-American" if the Tigers were left out of the BCS National Championship. No more SEC commish Mike Slive arguing his conference's case on "Mike & Mike." No more coaches contorting logic to squeeze their team into the national title conversation.

Talk means nothing. Records mean something. Strength of schedule means something. Conference strength means something. And that's the way it should be.

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops can pop off all he wants about the muscle mass of the Big 12 schedule, about the top-heaviness of the SEC, about Bama coach Nick Saban calling his Sugar Bowl loss to OU a "consolation game." Florida State's Jimbo Fisher can scold other leagues (hello, Big 12) for not playing a conference championship game. And Baylor's Art Briles can bite back. Stanford's David Shaw can unleash the hounds on the SEC's eight-game conference schedule.

[+] EnlargeDabo Swinney, Steve Spurrier
AP Photo/Richard ShiroNow that talking season is over, these gentlemen can get back to coaching football.

And guess what? It won't make any difference when the CFP selection committee meets on Mondays and Tuesdays and releases its first rankings on Oct. 28. It won't make any difference when the committee releases its final rankings Dec. 7 -- college football's Selection Sunday.

Stoops, Saban, Fisher, Briles, Shaw ... it's all just offseason noise. South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, Clemson's Dabo Swinney, Pluto, Mars ... it's what the Head Ball Coach calls "talking season" -- and he's right.

The talking season is about protecting territory. It's about recruiting. It's a lot of coaches taking their larynxes for a walk.

Right now, the preseason final four features Stoops vs. Saban on one side of the bracket and the criminal justice system vs. player arrestees on the other side. If we went to an eight-berth playoff, we'd add Texas' Charlie Strong vs. his own roster and FSU's Jameis Winston vs. the 2015 NFL draft.

But once the season officially begins Aug. 27, the football calculus changes. Everything changes.

Can Florida State repeat? Can Fisher monetize peanuts in soft drinks?

If there is a football god, can he/she please arrange for an OU-Bama semi?

Will one conference have two teams in the final four? And if it's the SEC, will Stoopsy's head and visor explode?

Will Condoleezza Rice have to miss any teaching time at Stanford? (We can answer that now -- her PolEcon 584: Managing Global Political Risk class doesn't begin until Feb. 23, 2015. Pass/fail, by the way. And absences will affect your grade.)

Which program is going to play the role of Auburn this season and come out of nowhere?

Which team is going to be fifth in the selection committee's final ranking -- and insist it deserved to be fourth?

Will there be a CFP war-room cam?

Is it too late to add a 14th committee member? I can get Mondays and Tuesdays off.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter

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