Poll of top four teams shows players favor college football playoffs

by | CBSSports.com College Football Insider
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NEW ORLEANS -- If it were up to the players from the nation's top four ranked teams, college football's national championship would be determined by a playoff, according to a survey conducted by CBSSports.com.*

Of the 126 starters and top reserves interviewed from No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Stanford, 43 percent prefer a college football playoff, while 19 percent were against it and 38 percent were undecided.

"Everybody who feels like they deserve a shot would have a shot with a playoff," Stanford senior free safety Michael Thomas said. "It definitely feels like there should be a system where there's a clear-cut champion. There are pluses and minuses to bowls and the BCS games, but I hope in the future there is some type of solution to determine a clear-cut champion."

LSU sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu said he would prefer a six-team playoff.

Playoff Poll
Question: Do you favor a playoff?
Yes -- 43 percent
No -- 19 percent
Undecided -- 38 percent
Question: How many teams in a playoff?
8 teams -– 33 percent
4 teams -– 22 percent
12 teams –- 13 percent
6 teams –- 11 percent
16 teams –- 11 percent
10 teams -– 9 percent
Note: 126 players from LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State and Stanford were surveyed.

"You want to see the best players play against each other," Mathieu said. "It would be a fun few weeks."

Of the players that favored a playoff, an eight-team playoff was the most popular choice, receiving 33 percent of the votes. Next was a four-team playoff (22 percent), 12-team playoff (13 percent), a six-team playoff (11 percent), a 16-team playoff (11 percent) and a 10-team playoff (9 percent).

"Just to see some of the smaller conference teams get in a playoff would be awesome," Alabama sophomore center Kellen Williams said. "To see them have the chance to compete with the bigger schools in the SEC and the Big 12."

Stanford senior running back Jeremy Stewart said it was the only "true way" to determine a national champion.

"Every other sport -- the NFL, they do it, NBA, women's basketball and men's college basketball -- does it," Stewart said.

LSU senior safety Brandon Taylor disagreed. "A playoff would take a toll on the body," Taylor said. "The BCS is doing a great job of putting the best two teams in the game."

Of the four teams, Oklahoma State had the highest percentage of players that favored a playoff (54 percent), while Alabama had the smallest percentage of players that favored a playoff (32 percent). Also, Alabama had the highest percentage of players opting against a playoff (21 percent), while Stanford had the smallest percentage of players against a playoff (6 percent).

"The common misconception is that all the players hate the BCS," said Alabama junior left tackle Barrett Jones, who is undecided. "It's hard to hate the BCS when you're in the SEC. It's been so good to us. We feel if we win our conference, we'll have a chance to play for the national title."

Stanford cornerback Johnston Bademosi, however, favors a playoff.

More on BCS

"The BCS [bowls] don't necessarily select the best teams," Bademosi said. "They select the teams that will provide the biggest draws, so a lot of teams like Boise State get left out. That's not fair.

"If I'm on top of a BCS committee, of course I don't want a playoff. Look how much money they're pulling in, how much money they're making for themselves and it's going well. If you create what Division I-AA has, that would be the fairest thing that can happen, but that creates a much longer season."

LSU freshman punter Brad Wing, who is from Australia, said he enjoyed the playoff system in high school, but was undecided about it at the college level.

"I really don't understand the BCS," he admitted. Most of the players against a playoff felt it could hurt the bowl experience.

"Having been to three bowls and the Orange Bowl last year, I've gained an appreciation for what the bowl committee does to make this experience special for all of us," Stanford punter Daniel Zychlinski said. "I like the bowl game aspect rather than a playoff because it makes the game more special. It's kind of our championship game."

Added Stanford senior punter David Green: "This is so nice [the Fiesta Bowl hospitality]. We get to do all this. It's the best vacation you can have all year."

Stanford senior defensive end Matthew Masifilo is not in favor of a playoff because of the additional games it would create.

"The college football schedule -- especially with our bodies -- playing any more games without monetizing the system for the players would be unnecessary," Masifilo said.

However, Oklahoma State sophomore cornerback Justin Gilbert was among the players who were not deterred by the wear and tear a 16-team playoff might bring. LSU senior quarterback Jarrett Lee also favored a 16-team playoff.

"We work out 365 days a year," Gilbert said. "There can never be too many games. We don't have enough games as it is now."

LSU junior right tackle Alex Hurst said he would prefer a four-team playoff. "It would be survival of the fittest," he said.

Stanford junior quarterback Andrew Luck said he needed to do more research before making a decision.

"If it would make sense, if people think the winner would be a more clear-cut champion than this system, then why not?" Luck said.

Here is how each team voted: LSU 34 percent in favor, 22 percent against, 44 percent undecided; Alabama 32 percent in favor, 26 percent against, 41 percent undecided; Oklahoma State 54 percent in favor, 21 percent against, 25 percent undecided; and Stanford 53 percent in favor, 6 percent against, 41 percent undecided.

"If you want to be here [in the BCS title game], don't lose," Alabama junior tight end Michael Williams said. "Then if you lose, you have to hope for the best."

Alabama junior kicker Jeremy Shelley favors a playoff because he said it would finally end the debate over which is the best team.

"We've gotten bashed by some Oklahoma State people because they think they should be playing in this game," Shelley said. "A playoff would give teams a chance to step on the field and show it."

Both starting quarterbacks in Monday's BCS national title game, LSU senior Jordan Jefferson and Alabama sophomore AJ McCarron, are against a playoff.

"The whole season is looked at almost like a playoff now," McCarron said. "With the system they have now, you have to try and win every game. That's what makes the sport so much fun. Hopefully they don't change it while I'm playing."

Oklahoma State junior wide receiver Justin Blackmon said he was undecided, but thought a playoff would be "cool."

"It'd be fun to play more games," Blackmon said. "It would shake things up a bit. The No. 1 team's not guaranteed to make it to the championship. It would make things more interesting.

"The BCS has been here for years. I haven't complained about it yet. I'm not going to start now because it didn't work in our favor."

Oklahoma State senior quarterback Brandon Weeden said he didn't know the best format for a playoff, but he's in favor of one.

"I think there are ideas out there," Weeden said. "I know the BCS is set to find the best 10 teams. I think the top 10 teams should play in the BCS bowls, but that's not the case this year, which I think is weird. I don't agree with that part of it."

LSU sophomore right guard Josh Williford had an interesting opinion.

"As a college football player, I'd say I don't want a playoff," he said. "But later in life I'd say yes I'm for a playoff."

* The starters and top reserves at the Fiesta Bowl and BCS title game media days were asked by CBSSports.com if they favored a college football playoff. If they responded yes, they were then asked how many teams should be in a playoff. Oklahoma State and Stanford players were interviewed in Paradise Valley, Ariz., on Dec. 30, 2011, three days before Oklahoma State's 41-38 Fiesta Bowl victory. The LSU and Alabama players were interviewed at Friday's BCS national title media day inside the Superdome.

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