What happens when you combine an idea that is almost universally disliked with one that is so bad no one has ever bothered to advocate for it? Solid gold.
Group of 5 playoff
When I first heard the proposal from NIU’s Sean Frazier, I immediately dismissed it like most in group of 5 country. I don’t think of MAC football as lesser college football. If anything, I think of it as real college football, and not the pomp and circumstance that power 5 football has become. The thought of a special/lesser championship didn’t appeal to me in the least.
Then I gave it some more thought, and slowly, the idea has been growing on me. Certainly it’s highly unlikely that any MAC school will get an invite to the “real” playoffs. Any exposure from the national media, which seems to be increasingly putting all it’s eggs in the p5 basket, is good. Most importantly, I think the kids would enjoy it.
There are several main obstacles. The first is that people don’t like the idea of a faux national championship. It works in basketball, because instead of calling it a secondary national championship tournament, the NIT is simply the National Invitation Tournament. The new playoffs could be marketed as such.
The power 5 isn’t completely evil, they allow the g5 to have one slot in the New Years 6 bowl lineup. That makes selection for a 4 team g5 tournament pretty simple. The 4 remaining conference champions duke it out. This doesn’t do anything for me. You take 4 of the g5 champions, and not even the best one, and play for nothing. Boring.
I would be in favor of taking those 4 teams, and 4 other invited teams, for a tournament championship. Especially if those 4 teams were ranked p5 teams.
Ultimately my biggest fear is that a g5 team will be good enough to win a national championship, and be left out because they are a g5 school. The only way to avoid that is for the g5 to earn more respect. The current bowl situation doesn’t allow for that. It doesn’t matter that g5 teams have been knocking off quality p5 teams in the non-conference slate, pundits are refusing to take notice.
That was blatantly clear this season, when Oklahoma State was in the conversation for the playoffs, right up until they got waxed by Oklahoma. As we all know, Central Michigan needed a bad call to beat Oklahoma State. Never mind the fact that CMU was 3-5 in the MAC, and the game was at OSU, somehow, that loss shouldn’t have happened, and OSU should have been in playoff contention. Meanwhile, Western Michigan was undefeated, made no doubt that they were the better team than CMU, and wasn’t ever considered for the playoff, ever.
I know that’s just one game, but there have been plenty of other games over recent history where the g5 have knocked off quality p5 teams. Going back to when FCS Appalachian State knocked off then number 5 Michigan, it should have been clear that the gap between the haves and the have nots was closing. The p5 didn’t get the message, or they did, and have been doing everything in their power to make sure that trend changes.
The committee and it’s defenders want you to believe that the Cowboys beating Kansas is somehow more impressive than WMU beating Toledo. It isn’t. They’ll use WMU’s close loss to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl as proof that WMU wasn’t good enough for the playoffs, and dismiss the next great g5 school.
Here is the problem with that thinking, 130 teams weren’t good enough for the playoffs last year, including 2 that did, in fact, make the playoffs.
Back on target, that’s why I would like an 8 team invitational, with a mix of g5 and p5 quality teams. It would be fun to watch, and could eventually raise the prestige of the MAC, and the rest of the g5, as they hold their own with the best of the rest of the p5.
The ultimate goal of this tournament could be a play in for a NY6 Bowl Game.
A glaring problem with an 8 team tournament to end the season, especially for the g5 schools that already had to play in a conference championship game, is the number of games on the season. That’s where the second bad idea comes in.
Bowl Games For Everybody!
One thing most college football fans and media types agree on is that there are too many bowl games. They are a reward for a good season, and 5-7 teams are increasingly getting rewarded for sucking. I will say this, there are some exceptions. Miami this last season was a perfect example. They rattled off 6 wins in a row, to finish the season 6-6, and almost beat an SEC team in a great bowl game. It would have been a shame if that never happened. It’s equally a shame when 6-6 Ohio State plays 6-6 Florida in the IDGAF Bowl, like they did a few years ago, and it was some of the most atrocious football I ever witnessed.
So how could I come up with the idea for more bowl games? Because I am a genius, that’s why. Or crazy. Probably crazy.
It seems like every season, the powers that be throw around the idea for an 8 or 16 team playoff for the real trophy, and one common solution to the extra games is to lop off a meaningless game at the start of the season. The problem is that most teams don’t make the playoffs, so you are taking away a game from them, too.
My solution is to have a conference competition at the end of the season. You could have one for the g5 and the p5, and incorporate the current bowl games. Basically, you take evenly placed teams from each conference, and have a point system. A win against the second place team in a conference would be more than knocking off the last place team. The math would have to be figured out by someone smarter than me. The conference with the most points earns the title of best conference. A lot of these games could be played on the home field of one of the teams, cutting the costs. Take away a meaningless game at the beginning of the season, and play one at the end that actually means something. Maybe the winning conferences could host their respective tournament championships the following season to up the ante.
Boom, in one fell swoop, I solved meaningless bowl games and expanded the playoffs. Up next this off season, I tackle world peace! Or head to the funny farm. Probably the funny farm.