I want to congratulate the Sounders FC on a Western Conference Championship. And the coolest part about Major League Soccer – and the NFL, and the NBA, and the NHL, and just about every professional league I can think of? You win a conference title – and you’ll play the ultimate championship.
We can’t say that about college football, now, can we?
Sure, we’ve made progress with a four-team playoff. But I don’t think anyone was delusional enough to think that was the final step. And this year is just another reminder – that with five Power 5 conferences and just four spots available, at the very least, one conference champion will be left out. This year it could be two, and maybe even three. It begs the question: What does a conference title really mean?
Both the Pac-12 and the Big Ten have championship games next week, where all four teams currently rank in the Top 10. There shouldn’t be a question that the winners of those games advance to play for a national title.
It’s a shame the Selection Committee will make their four choices, and everyone in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania will be clamoring for... a recount. Oh, the irony.
The point is: This year is a reminder that a four-team playoff does NOT work and is just a stepping stone to a six or (my preference) an eight-school field: Five unquestioned conference champs that some selection committee can’t touch, along with three at-large berths determined by that committee. I’ll even give the committee the power to seed those eight teams, based on their overall resume and the eye test. Meaning: if you somehow have a weaker conference champion with three or four losses, then the committee can seed them seven or eight, but can’t prevent them from playing for a national title.
This isn’t any different from what I’ve said the past two years, but I know it finally hits home for Husky fans who unfortunately have to worry about the possibility of being left out, even if they beat Colorado and win a conference title next week. Leaving the Pac-12 champion out of national title contention is a slight to the school, a slight to the conference, and a slight to spirit of determining a true national champ.
It’s not that difficult. Fewer than five teams will continue to be a disservice to the Power 5 Conferences. More than eight teams dilutes the field too much.
But all this drama about conference champs being left out of the playoff? It’s unnecessary – and it’s flat-out wrong.