Mike Slive’s Mistake

Yesterday, I posted the process for how the four team playoff selection process should work. Unfortunately, it won’t work that way, and it’s only a matter of time before the SEC gets screwed as a result.

The Problem

If the selection committee were picking four teams in 2013, I predict they would pick:

  1. Florida State
  2. Auburn
  3. Alabama
  4. Baylor or Michigan State

The problem is Alabama would make it to the playoff. Yes, I am an Alabama fan and I said it. Alabama making the playoffs is a problem for the SEC in the long run. 

The committee would be ignoring the PAC-12 champion, which is a grave error.

Strength of Schedule

The SEC and PAC-12 are the strongest conferences this year. Therefore, the PAC-12 and SEC champions should be represented in the playoffs. Yet Stanford, the PAC-12 champion, would be punished because they have two losses instead of  one. Instead, Alabama is rewarded, a team that did not win its conference or even its division.

Short Sighted

It’s only a matter of time before the SEC Champion, like Stanford, is the two loss team on the outside looking in. It is going to happen.

There will be a year where any one of as many as as five SEC teams could win the National Title, yet they won’t make the playoffs because the selection committee is going to favor teams with weaker schedules and better win-loss records.

An Example

Let’s assume that the playoffs were in effect this year and, similar to the 2007 season[1], the best SEC teams have two losses[2]. In this example, here are the two loss teams:

  • Auburn
  • Alabama
  • Missouri
  • South Carolina

I would argue that any one of these teams could enter the tournament and have a strong chance of winning it. But in this example, I predict selection committee would choose:

  • Florida State
  • Michigan State
  • Baylor
  • Ohio State

The SEC would get hosed along with the PAC-12. The champions from the two strongest conferences wouldn’t enter a team into the tournament! 

Mike Slive’s Short-Sited Mistake

This scenario is coming. You can book it. I pointed it out two years ago, and I’m pointing it out again today.

SEC fans were greedy following the 2011 season when Alabama faced LSU in the title game. They didn’t think through the downside that should be obvious after LSU’s 2007 season.

The sad thing is that there are years when the SEC has multiple teams in the Top 10 who could win the tournament. But because we are greedy and want two in the bush instead of one in the hand, there is going to be a year when we are passed over, and teams from weaker conferences make it to the playoff instead of the SEC champion.

All this could have been avoided if only conference champions  were eligible to enter the tournament.

Quarter Finals

Conference championships should be treated as the first round of the playoffs. The problem is, there is only room for four entries in the semi-final round of the playoffs, and there are more conference championships than that. This should be the selection committee’s job; to determine which four conference champions make the tournament.

Making subjective decisions such as Stanford doesn’t get to go because they have two losses, and Alabama gets to bypass the quarter-final round because of Nick Saban’s reputation, is going to lead to an SEC disaster in the long run.

*****

Notes

  1. In 2007 season, 2 loss LSU won national championship.
  2. SEC fans seem to think two losses isn’t possible. And yet, Auburn had at least four games this year it could have lossed. Alabama could have slipped against TX A&M as well. Assume Auburn lost to Washington State early in season and Bama lost to A&M. There is your scenario where the best teams in the SEC have two losses.
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