Lost in the white noise of the Big 12’s eventual demise in today’s college football climate is the fact that there is an easy solution to all of these real or simply perceived problems: Expand the College Football Playoff. It is that simple. And, if it were up to TCU coach Gary Patterson, it would probably have already happened.
“I just think there’s enough parity that any of those six to eight can beat anybody on any given day,” Patterson told KTCK The Ticket in an interview on Wednesday.
Coach Patterson isn’t wrong. In any given year, team six may be just as solid of playoff contender as number four. And when you have five power conferences, along with a potential challenger from the Group of 5, it does not make much sense to limit the playoff to just four spots.
All the current scenario does is cause drama. Drama, that changes on the whims of the Playoff Committee.
At first, strength of schedule was king. “Every game matters.” No, problem. The Big 12’s round robin guarantees all members finish with a strong SOS rating. But then, in the playoff’s first year, both Baylor and TCU, who had much higher strength of schedule rankings than Ohio State, got jumped by the Buckeyes.
Then, in 2015, Oklahoma made the playoff, effectively a week before anyone else as the Sooners didn’t have to worry about putting their season on the line in a conference championship game. That didn’t sit well with some, and the Big 12 was pressured into adding a conference championship game in order to get that “13th data point”. But then, Ohio State got into the playoff once again, despite not even playing in the Big 12 championship game.
“Everybody said we have to have a championship game,” Patterson said. “Well, I just watched a team not be in a championship game in the Big Ten and get in the playoff.”
At this point, who really trusts the CFB Playoff Committee? What will be 2017’s hot metric of the year? Do you know? I don’t. What I do know is that an eight team playoff not only makes sense, it would keep the committee from making any more of a fool of themselves. It’s simple. Eight teams, made up of the five Power 5 conference champions, the highest ranking Group of 5 contender as long as they rank in the top 15, and two or three wild cards as needed.
Do that, and the committee will no longer need to make up excuses on how a team like Ohio State got in when the Big Ten conference champion did not, even though Penn State beat Ohio State. They won’t have to explain how Ohio State is more deserving than teams like Baylor and TCU, despite an inferior schedule.
Until that happens though, the Big 12 is left playing behind the eight ball. They play the toughest conference schedule of any Power 5. All Big 12 members must now play a Power 5 opponent in the non-conference on top of that. And now the conference added a championship game, but the reality is, the probably won’t be good enough for some.
Upping the difficulty just means losses are more likely, and in the Big 12, when everybody plays everybody, you aren’t going to have a bunch of one or two loss teams. Until people start to understand that, until people start to understand that defense is more than just yards allowed, then the Big 12 will continue to suffer a perception problem.
“The bottom line to it is we [the Big 12] need to keep upping our game and we need to keep getting better.”