Even with a playoff, don't expect Purdue here any time soon. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The biggest news in college football is the death of the BCS, which looks to finally be dead after the 2014 season in favor of a playoff. Naturally, we don't know what said playoff will entail yet, as knowing that would make sense, and that is something that everyone involved clearly lacks.
All signs appear to be pointing toward a four-team playoff, but they can't decide if there will be a homefield advantage element, if the current BCS bowls will factor in, or how the Rose Bowl will factor in since it is the oldest bowl and holds the lynchpins of the Big Ten and the Pac-12.
Honestly, I haven't paid a lot of attention because it does not affect Purdue much. In 99 years of out of 100 Purdue is more likely going to be a spoiler when it comes to the National Championship in football than a contender. In the unlikely that Purdue is a contender for a playoff I take solace in knowing that our membership in the Big Ten would automatically give us more consideration toward a berth in the championship than Boise State ever got.
That's not to say we're better than Boise State. Far from it. The Broncos have never been given a chance to prove their worth in a National Championship game, but they are certainly worthy of playing for the title and would roll over us. The unfortunate nature of the beast is that an undefeated Purdue team, if it ever happened, would get a longer look at a title game or a playoff than an undefeated Boise State team simply because of the Big Ten factor.
It does not change what it would take for our Boilermakers to even be considered for a playoff: We would have to be the undefeated champion of the Big Ten. Given that we have one ten victory season in school history, a run to 13-0 really seems out of the question.
I am of the opinion that the four-team playoff should have the stipulation that you must be a conference champion to enter. Readers here shouldn't be surprised of this, as I didn't think Alabama was worthy of being in the title game in January and I even voted Oklahoma State No.1 in the final blogpoll. If you can't even be the best team in your conference you have no business being named the best team in the country regardless of what some poll says.
If a "conference champions only" provision had been in effect this past season here is how your "Final Four" would have looked based on the pre-bowl BCS standings:
No. 1 LSU (SEC Champion) vs. No. 10 Wisconsin (Big Ten Champion)
No. 3 Oklahoma State (Big 12 Champion) vs. No. 5 Oregon (Pac-12 Champion)
Nope, there won't be a shred of controversy there, as now picking four teams to play for the title clearly solved every issue and all the other teams will clearly nod in agreement and got to play their bowl games. If you believe this then you believe no one gets snubbed from a 68-team field on Selection Sunday.
Here are the reasons that we had to go all the way to No. 10 Wisconsin to find the fourth team, keeping in mind the "conference champions only" provision:
No. 2 Alabama - Not a conference champion
No. 4 Stanford - Ahead of Oregon, but not a conference champion
No. 6 Arkansas - The same as Alabama and third best team in heir division.
No. 7 Boise State - The top "mid-major", but lost the Mountain West to TCU.
No. 8 Kansas State - Runner-up to Oklahoma State
No. 9 South Carolina - Didn't even win the SEC East
I am an advocate of, "If you don't want to bitch, don't lose", but I know most people don't think this way. If you thought the screaming about Alabama was loud this year, just wait until a No. 2 or 3 SEC team gets left out of a playoff in a similar scenario. The internet (for those few trailers in Alabama with internet) could melt and Paul Finebaum's switchboard would literally catch fire.
Imagine if you went to eight teams in a playoff, but only allowed conference champions plus one "wild card" non-conference champion. Here is how it would look in that scenario, again, using last year's final pre-bowl BCS standings as a metric:
No. 1 LSU (SEC Champion) Vs. No. 2 Alabama (seeded 8th as the "Wild card")
No. 3 Oklahoma State (Big 12 Champion) vs. No. 18 TCU (Mountain West Champion)
No. 5 Oregon (Pac-12 champion) vs. Southern Miss (Conference USA champion)
No. 10 Wisconsin (Big 10 Champion) vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech (ACC champion)
TCU and Southern Miss get in by the benefit of winning their conferences and being ahead of any other conference champion, including the Big East, whose champion after tiebreakers was rated No. 23.
This obviously brings an element of mid-majors (TCU and Southern Miss) into the mix, but seeing Southern Miss get in instead of Arkansas might cause the South to re-secede from the Union. Don't forget completely overlooking Stanford, Boise State, Michigan, etc. The No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in the first round would also cause people's heads to explode, though how else would you handle the "Wild Card" team? If you have no wild card, suddenly West Virginia is there, which I like because at least it is all conference champions, but the state of Alabama would collectively lose its shit.
The bottom line is that even with a playoff, people are going to argue and politic. We see it with a 68-team field every March, so a four-game playoff is not going to solve every problem. Eight teams is better, and it maintains the integrity of the regular season and "every game is a playoff" by including only conference champions. With the Big 10, Pac-12, SEC, and ACC all having conference title games it is like having a first round of a 16-team tournament, anyway.
Purdue doesn't factor in here because we don't have nearly the clout to even be considered a "wild card" team, which will invariably be the "name" team in the country with the best profile unless Purdue ran roughshod through the entire Big Ten and Notre Dame, then lost a quadruple-overtime thriller in the Big Ten title game to someone like Michigan. Then, maybe, we'd get a look.
In the end, very little will change. There will still be bowls to reward everyone else. Purdue will still need to win the Big Ten to have even a hope of ever winning a national Championship in football, and people will still argue.