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Bama’s Saban (No Surprise) Is Against A League Champs Only Playoff; We Think A Compromise Is Coming

Fact: There’s a desire by several conference commissioners to place additional roadblocks between the SEC and future BCS championships.  Larry Scott of the Pac-12 and Jim Delany of the Big Ten are interested in a college football playoff involving the four highest-rated conference champions in the land.

Problem is — and this is what’s motivating those commissioners — the SEC had two teams in the BCS title game last year and the team that did not win its conference title did win the national crown.

The coach of that team — Alabama’s Nick Saban — weighed in on the champs-only plan yesterday during a speech at a charity foundation yesterday in Nashville:

“No disrespect to any conference, but there are conferences that are in the BCS that if they played in the SEC their champion may be in fourth or fifth place.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for Roy Kramer and all commissioners of major conferences in the country.  No disrespect to anyone.  I disagree with that (plan).  If you’re one of the two best teams you should be able to play in the game and we were fortunate to have the opportunity to get back in the game this year and I think we proved with our conference that we should have been in the game.”

In fact, in nearly half of the years of the BCS’ existence, two SEC teams have ranked among the top four teams at year’s end.

If the champs-only plan had been in effect this past year, #1 LSU would have played #10 Wisconsin and #3 Oklahoma State would have faced #5 Oregon.

Second-ranked Bama and fourth-ranked Stanford didn’t win their league titles.  Neither did the teams ranked sixth through ninth.

We believe a four-team Plus-One system should include the four highest-rated teams in America.  If guys like Delany and Scott weren’t being so shortsighted they would realize that in 2006, both Ohio State and Michigan would have made a playoff from the Big Ten and that the Pac-12 would have had both Stanford and Oregon in the field in 2010.  The Big 12 would have had two teams in the field in 2008.

But, with so much of the motivation for a playoff coming from anti-SEC feelings, it’s likely that a plan involving the four highest-rated teams won’t fly.

At the same time, hopefully Mike Slive can get enough backing from another commish or two — perhaps John Swofford of the ACC — for a compromise plan.  The best fix: Invite the three highest-rated conference champs plus the highest-ranked non-champ to play.  Last year that would have included #2 Alabama at the expense of #10 Wisconsin.  (And if the top four teams all happen to be conference champs, obviously, they would all get invites.)

We at expect a 3-and-1 “wild card” system to be the eventual choice.  At some point we believe even men like Scott and Delany will realize that it could be their leagues left out if a champs-only system is implemented.

But a plan just taking the top four teams in the country would make even more sense.



Compromise? 3 Champs, not 4, and the next best 2 teams vie for the 4th spot on Championship Saturday.Alabama vs. Stanford for spot #4 that first weekend of December. 


Either create a credible playoff system (4 teams will still generate controversey), or revert to the pre BCS bowl system, where bowls & their tied-in leagues would scramble to put together the best card they could to generate the most revenue. Go back to the back-room dealing of the 80's & early 90's and let the professional pollsters at the AP & the Coaches poll "select" the team they want to award a trophy to.


Here's a scenario for you - in a 14-team SEC (heck even in a 12 team league) it's not unreasonable to have a 2-loss league champ. In some leagues, a 3 or 4 loss team might win out.  What if a league champ, for argument's sake we'll take the SEC, finishes 11-2 but say, the league runner up made it to the championship game undefeated and finishes 12-1. Now the same year, let's think about the new pact between the Pack12 & Big Ten - they've agreed to schedule each of their teams against the other league for at least one non-conference matchup each season. We could see a PACK12 champ limp in at 9-4 who has already beaten the Big Ten champ that maybe finished 10-3.  Both leagues might just have other teams finish with better overall records than their league champion but the luck of the draw in scheduling has put them into a quandry. Let's then say the ACC champ finished with 1 loss while Notre Dame managed a respectable 2-loss season & someone like Houston finishes undefeated. ND would'nt be a "conference champion" but you can bet your last dollar they'd be in the Final Four.


Tell me, who would find such a system credible when teams with better overall records and equal or better SOS get left out?


Just have a 16 team playoff like the other divisions.... problem solved. If anything the basketball tournament has proven the so called little guys without the great season record CAN play with the "big boys" if given a chance.


As said before, Delany and Scott are simply acting in the fiduciary interest of the conferences that they represent.  Slive would do the same thing (as would Saban), if he were in the position to do so).  Slive just happens to be on the fair side of the issue but if he were not the commissioner of the SEC, he would be advocating anything that puts his league in the best position to win AND handicap any other conference that threatens the financial interests and reputation of his conference.  They are simply doing their jobs, and in this situation, their jobs are to act like whiny little b!tches.  


Perhaps this illogical proposal from the Big 10 and Pac 12 is just shortsighted --- but, these commissioners are not stupid.


I am more of the belief these Commissioners see long-term SEC dominance and truly believe their conferences will be left out of the Playoffs many more times than having a chance to have 2 participants. So, they are protecting the much more likely downside of not having a team in the playoffs. Imagine the embarrassment of the Big 10 or Pac 12 being excluded from the playoffs 2 or 3 years in a row? I think that is a worse scenario to them than not having 2 teams in the playoffs. Also, in a way, their proposal makes it appear "all Conferences are equal" which, right now, is nowhere near true.


Just my take. As you write, hopefully the SEC can find a friend somewhere and block this proposal.


Oops. Saw MrSec was ahead of the game.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



Actually, Mike Slive just coaxed his league into placing a 25-man signing cap on itself.  He also went against his league's football coaches and helped lead the charge for multi-year athletic scholarships.


Some commissioners do what's right and what benefits their league.  They have vision.


Others are reactionary and act only in the best interest of their league TODAY.


Slive's the latter in most cases.


Thanks for reading,


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