It's starting to look like the +1 or four team playoff is about to blow up. The Big 10 and PAC 12 are looking out for their own interests and the ACC is ready to make a deal with the devil to save their conference. The SEC and Big 12 are flexing their muscle and Big East is disappearing. Notre Dame is starting to feel the need to join a conference or get left out of the conversation, though I doubt that will happen. I wouldn't be surprised if we see the conferences taking over control of the bowls and things end up looking a lot like the pre-BCS. This could have all been avoided if the University Presidents had elected to cap football conferences at 12 teams and agreed upon a +1 when it was first proposed. But that doesn't matter now. Things are going to get ugly.
Well, you can’t say we didn’t see this one coming.
A week ago Monday, Tony Barnhart of CBSSports.com made the case for a college football playoff involving the four best teams in the nation, period. In that piece — which, as you know, we totally agree with — included this quote from ACC commissioner John Swofford:
“I’m a big believer in conference championships and that resonates with me. But if you’re selling a four-team playoff, and it’s not 1-2-3-4, then the credibility of the system is undermined.”
To date, the Big Ten and Pac-12 have been the leagues trying to limit the number of non-conference champs who could reach a playoff. The ACC and SEC have been in favor of inviting the top four teams regardless of league silverware.
But between last Monday and this past Monday, Florida State’s Andy Haggard opened his mouth and sent shockwaves across the landscape of college football. He put FSU on the auction block. That put Swofford in a tough spot.
On Monday — in a post titled: Did An FSU Trustee Just Cost The SEC A Playoff Partner – we wondered if Swofford might change his tune regarding a playoff for political purposes. We wrote:
“(Faced with losing FSU) Does Swofford suddenly switch sides in the current playoff talks? If the ACC were to suddenly join the Big Ten and Pac-12 in pushing for a champs-only or champs-mostly style of playoff, he’d be exerting pressure in two places. Faced with a champs-only plan, Notre Dame might be forced to actually join a league and the ACC would have a one-in-three shot at grabbing them (along with the Big Ten and the Big 12). In addition, Florida State might suddenly view the ACC, Pitt, Syracuse and all those other ‘basketball schools’ as looking pretty good. What’s the easiest path to a national title and beaucoup playoff dollars: Besting Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and TCU in the Big 12 or beating, well, uh, the field in the ACC? The ACC would clearly be the easier path at the present time (even though FSU has only one its league once and it’s division twice since 2005). In that scenario, it might make greater financial sense for Florida State to stay put.”
So guess what Swofford said earlier today:
ACC commissioner John Swofford said ACC membership prefers conference champ model in playoff
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyCBS) May 16, 2012
Well, whaddya know?
This will most likely be seen as a tit-for-tat deal with the Big Ten and Pac-12. ”You stop pushing for on-campus semifinals and we’ll go along with your plan of taking any conference champs ranked in the top six.”
But don’t think for a second that this isn’t also being driven by Swofford’s need to either a) lure Notre Dame into the ACC or b) hold on to Florida State.