The College Football Playoff system is an improvement over the BCS, but the system is still imperfect.
Even for the “Power Five,” the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, the CFP has a major flaw: at least one conference will always be left out of the race. Just three conferences would be represented if an independent program like Notre Dame or two teams from one Power Five conference crash the party. Can you imagine the hysteria in that scenario?
Still, it’s much better to be Baylor, TCU or whichever major conference winner is held out of the field in 2015 than it is to be Boise State.
Given that the new system doesn’t even have room at the table for all the Power Five conference winners, the non-Power Five—or, as former SMU head coach June Jones called them, the “have-nots”—face the same unconquerable mountain they did under the BCS. Boise State and the rest of the “have-nots” can win as many games as their little hearts desire, but the Broncos are never going to crack the field without the perfect marriage of a very tough non-conference schedule and an unusually-deep Mountain West.
That is, until the inevitable expansion of the playoff system.
While Washington State head coach Mike Leach is aiming far too high with his 64-team proposal, an eight-team field could do the trick. This way, all five major conference teams, a couple more at-large Power Five teams/Notre Dame/BYU and a non-Power Five team could get a shot. What kind of college football fan wouldn’t sign up for an opportunity to see a Cinderella squad in the mix? It’s like injecting the best part of March Madness into football.
Unfortunately for the “have-nots,” if this expansion ever does come, it may not be for another twelve years, at least. ESPN CEO John Skipper and BCS executive director Bill Hancock previously noted that it is unlikely an expansion will be discussed by the two parties during the length of the current contract, as no “look-in” language was incorporated into it.
“The commissioners and presidents wanted to go long because they wanted to stop further speculation about eight teams and 16 teams,” Skipper said. “They put a stake in the ground that, for 12 years, it’s going to be the same. I don’t think there’s any contemplation that there will be any change to that.”
That said, Skipper’s comments were back in January 2013. After a few more seasons under the four-team format, there may be more interest in expansion talks. Certainly, more games means more money, which is really what’s at the heart of these playoff changes, anyway.
This year, Boise State enters the season ranked 23rd in the AP poll. While wins over non-conference foes Washington, BYU and Virginia could help them earn an invite to one of the New Year’s Six bowls, none of those match-ups will vault them into the College Football Playoff picture. With no other Mountain West team currently ranked, a better non-conference schedule likely wouldn’t have provided enough of a push, anyway.
This is the unfortunate state of BSU football. Hopefully, one day soon, this Cinderella will actually get to try on the glass slipper.