So tonight, the Pac-12 Championship is going to be played at Levi’s Stadium between Washington and Colorado. My, how the times have changed.
I grew up as a Pac-10 fan. I bleed blue and gold of UCLA and the first goal was to win Pac-10 title and go to the Rose Bowl. In that, a win over USC was paramount as well. Everything else was a bonus. That is not the college football we are in today.
Tonight, Colorado can upset Washington and win the very competitive Pac-12 conference and then what? They will win one of the power 5 conferences and will likely be left out of college football’s prestigious Final Four. So the Buffaloes would have 11 wins, a Pac 12 title and would stand above powers like USC, Stanford, Oregon, Washington and UCLA and would be left out because “the committee” is more impressed by a non conference champion. Doesn’t seem fair does it?
Well, when did fair and college football go together? It doesn’t.
With that said, the sport can do some serious improving in its guidelines for crowning its champion. Right now, everything is based on a combination of opinions, strength of schedules, perceived conference greatness and probably a mix of bias too.
Imagine doing this futile process in the NFL. Who would you pick right now to be the Final Four? Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots and…?
The point is, the process isn’t always easy and in the NFL and every other sport they have guidelines that take the debate away. Win your division and add two wild card teams and let’s play. Plain and simple.
In the current college game, it isn’t that clear. Why do we have divisions, and more importantly, why do we have conference championship games if they really may not mean squat?
Let’s take a dramatic example of what could happen this weekend. Right now Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Washington make up the Final Four. Ohio State isn’t even in their title game and what if Alabama, Clemson and Washington all lose? Alabama would likely still be in as would Ohio State. The other two teams would probably fall out and then we could have a scenario where there would be all four teams in the playoffs that either didn’t win their championship or didn’t even play for it.
Even though I think an eight-team playoff could fix a lot of this (certainly not all), we need to have some guidelines for the current four-team playoff.
First, you have to win your conference championship. Have to. Sorry, Ohio State – that means you. Sorry, Alabama, your perfect season could go up in flames if you stumble Saturday against Florida.
The game isn’t even worth watching now because they can lose and get in. Tonight’s Pac 12 game would have more juice and so would the other conference title games. As far as the Big-12 goes, you better find a way to clearly establish who your conference champ is too.
The other thing this does too, is eliminate our evaluation of the non-conference schedules. That is the most unbalanced thing we have in college football. Some schedules are tough, some only play at home, some have cake walks – it is too hard to measure that with any kind of consistency.
That wouldn’t matter if all you have to do is win your division. The other thing it may force conferences to do, is eliminate the money-grab that is the conference championship game knowing they could be taking out the league’s best team on the final weekend all for greed. That actually would make me laugh or cry depending on which team got the boot the last weekend.
All in all, the debate will go on and I will continue to watch and all these thoughts may change the first time it relates to my UCLA Bruins. However, I think college football could at least attempt to make this more fair.
Fair, haha. Who am I kidding?