Equality has been one of the most used words of 2020. It’s a necessity in every facet of life, except when choosing the four teams that’ll play for a chance of winning a National Championship. The playoff has quietly turned into a four-conference tournament between the ACC, SEC, Big 10, and Big 12. The Pac-12 has been regularly left out and if we’re being honest, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. With the early struggles of the Big-12, the Pac-12 was poisoned for their first birth since 2016, but as always, they seem to find any way possible to convolute the process.
Expansion in the playoff is commonly talked about amongst college football fans and I’m STRONGLY against it. The case can seem compelling at times when considering you’d include each of the power 5 school and one ad-large bid. It’s even sexier when we have undefeated teams like UCF in 2017-18, Western Michigan in 2016, and currently Coastal Carolina is joining the function. Holistically, it truly begs the question is this recreational sporting or elite collegiate sports? The goal is to crown a champion; not may sure everyone has a chance during the tournament. It would consequentially place some level of devaluation on the regular season.
Here’s a better question, has there been a season since the inaugural 2014 Playoff where you walked away questioning if the champion was the best team in the nation? There’s been one season where we saw two schools from the same conference make the playoff, 2017 where another team from Georgia blew a double-digit lead to a legendary coach. I think we can agree that Alabama was the best team that season. Additionally, in those previous five seasons, we’ve only had two instances where a four seed has beaten the one seed to make the National Championship game. Both instances ended with the four seed winning the championship. The elephant in the room for many seasons with the selection committee was if there was any form of bias? Absolutely with the SEC receives a lion share of it, but the end result is unparallel and it’s not the BCS – Bowl Championship Series (analytics and computers make my eyes roll).
The answer to this problem for the Pac-12 specifically is coaching. The story lines of Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, and Oklahoma at times becomes exasperating. What doesn’t perturb any football fan is the regularity of elite and quality competition these programs display. It can be attributed in large part to the men who lead the programs. I think we’d put Mario Cristobal in that second tier of coaches with Kirby Smart, Ed Orgeron, Brian Kelly, and Dan Mullen. Nonetheless, he’s the sole representative from the Pac-12 and still doesn’t have a CFP appearance on his resumé. The rebounding of Stanford, USC and Washington are really the pathway to a Pac-12 rebirth. Ironically enough, there won’t be any coaching changes made to either of those programs for “upgrades” this offseason.