No, it wasn’t a dream.
Coming at the end of the 2014 season, college football will have a playoff. An honest-to-goodness, best by-God four teams in the country playoff.
Long may it wave.
Just like that, years of cursing and wanting and wishing is over for millions of college football fans. It’s like the Berlin Wall toppling and someone signaling touchdown.
It’s fair — the top four teams will be in, regardless of which conference from which they hail. It’s proportionate — the college football season will still be heavy with meaning week after breathless week. It’s respectful of college football tradition with the inclusion of existing bowls in the mix for playoff sites. It’s already popular. And it’s going to pump an added gazillion dollars into college athletics.
“It will be very lucrative,” LSU Chancellor Mike Martin said Monday. “If March Madness is any indication, people like the playoff format. It breeds intensity and excitement.”
What it won’t do is squelch the controversy, end the angst, satisfy everyone. As Nick Saban said at the Southeastern Conference Spring Meeting, it just pushes the carping down the road from No. 3 to No. 5, the new address of the most deserving team not to get a shot at the national title.
“You can guarantee not everyone will be happy,” Martin said.
But it is something. It is a start toward the logical determination of a champion the way even golf and NASCAR now do it — with a playoff.
It’s something we should have seen coming after it was decided LSU and Alabama would meet in last season’s BCS championship game.
Few thought they weren’t the top two teams in the nation, but so many thought at least one more team (Oklahoma State) deserved a chance.
Now, they’ll get that chance, though there’s still every possibility of an All-SEC championship game — or even three SEC teams filling the four playoff slots. Remember LSU, Bama and Arkansas were ranked 1-2-3 going into the last week of November.
“I don’t think it will change the real power structure in college football,” Martin said. “I think two or three leagues, led by the SEC, will dominate.”
There are still lots of things to hash through. Thorny things. What will the selection committee look like? Will there be revenue distribution and how much? How much will the bowls keep?
“There has to be revenue sharing similar to basketball,” Martin said. “It’s incredibly skewed. The difference from the SEC to the Mountain West is so enormous as to not be a level playing field.”
Martin has a stake in a level playing field in that he’s going from LSU to Mountain West member Colorado State later this summer.
“As a new representative of Colorado State, I don’t expect to be wearing a BCS ring any time soon,” Martin said. Then he added: “But dreams are not bad things.”
True. But this is no dream.
College football has a playoff. For real.