How to fix the College Football Playoff? Excluding some traditional powers is a start

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Lord knows we hate to complain, but it seems justified to say that going into our fifth College Football Playoff, it’s pretty much been a closed society. Four schools – Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma – have hogged nearly three-quarters of the invitations. This little country club leaves the feeling that, in order to make room for a Cinderella like UCF, the playoffs need to expand.

The funny thing is, Cinderella may get some help from her step-sisters in the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 one of these days, though not because they’re feeling altruistic.

Let’s consider the obvious: Alabama and Clemson are practically locks, one way or another. Even if the Crimson Tide loses to Georgia in the SEC title game, the committee would take Alabama.

As for Clemson, it’s practically the same story. Might be the only team in the nation that could keep Nick Saban from his seventh title overall and six in Tuscaloosa.

Notre Dame, 9-0, gets in, too, if it can weather the loss Saturday of starting quarterback Ian Book, who yields to the Irish’s former starting quarterback, Brandon Wimbush.

Anything can happen on game day, which is what Jason Garrett tells Jerry Jones, but the three teams above are surely the way to bet.

Where it gets sticky is the fourth spot. If it turns out to be Michigan or Ohio State, status quo is maintained. Same for either Big 12 candidate of Oklahoma or West Virginia.

But if Georgia beats Alabama, could the committee really leave home either of the SEC’s big dogs?

If just such a scenario played out, it would mean the final four includes two SEC teams for the second year in a row; the ACC; and an independent.

No Big Ten. No Big 12. No Pac-12.

Three-fifths of the Power 5.

Pffffft.

Tim Brando — Fox broadcaster, pal of the Ballzy podcast and a guy unafraid to voice an opinion on anything — has long been on record that the best path to expanded playoffs is the exclusion of the big boys. They haven’t jerry-rigged the construction of their leagues, thumbed their noses at the NCAA and all but frozen out the have-nots only to sit back and watch somebody else take home all the loot. They’ll eventually support expansion simply because it means more money. But they’ll be quicker about it if getting left out of the CFP becomes a pattern.

They won’t do it to create more Cinderellas. Do you think they care if an undefeated UCF gets left out again? The country clubbers will nod sympathetically, but it won’t lead to any meaningful change.

Especially when you’ve got so many Group of 5 schools happy to be getting a bigger piece of the pie. The highest-ranked Group of 5 champ is guaranteed a berth in a New Year’s Six Bowl. Under the BCS, the Sun Belt received $1 million or $2 million a year.

Last year, the Sun Belt pocketed $15 million.

As Karl Benson, commissioner of the Sun Belt, told reporters in January, “I’m very satisfied with the current arrangement.”

But doesn’t everybody love Cinderella in the NCAA Tournament?

And isn’t it almost impossible with a four-team playoff?

“I think it’s harder,” Judy MacLeod, commissioner of C-USA, told the same reporters, “but something’s got to prove me wrong to think it’s not impossible.”

Bottom line: Other than UCF, don’t count on the Group of 5 to rock the boat.

On the other hand, the Power 5 never minds a little dust-up, especially over money.

If two SEC teams make it again, it’ll make two years in a row that neither the Big Ten nor Pac-12 made the playoffs. You’ll start to hear more complaints about SEC bias. Or weaker competition overall in the ACC.

A six-team playoff wouldn’t be a panacea, of course, but it would spread the love. You could even remove the committee from it altogether. Take the champs from the five big leagues and use computer models to decide on an independent or the best team from the Group of 5. A far less subjective tournament would take most of the argument out of it, although, come to think of it, the heated discussion may be part of the attraction.

Even if change comes, it won’t be anytime soon. We’re not even half-way through the CFP’s 12-year contract. But it’s never too early to start knocking.

Twitter: @KSherringtonDMN

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Source : https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/cfp/2018/11/09/fix-college-football-playoff-excluding-traditional-powers-start