After two weeks of BCS chaos, all of the top teams took care of business on Saturday and fans were left with a very simple understanding of the BCS scenarios. Notre Dame, finishing the regular season 12-0 after beating USC at LA Coliseum, will play for the national championship against the winner of Alabama (BCS No. 2) and Georgia (BCS No. 3) in the SEC title game. It is one of the easier scenarios in recent memory in the current two-team system.
Extend that system to four teams, like we have been doing with our CBSSports.com Mock Selection Committee to preview the future playoff system, and things become much more difficult. With one-loss teams like Florida, Oregon, and Kansas State also wrapping up BCS-caliber seasons, there was hardly any chance for consensus on the top four teams -- and even less the order for playoff seeding.
|College Football Final Four|
|1. Notre Dame||Notre Dame OR Georgia|
|2. Alabama||vs. Alabama OR Florida|
|Sugar||No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Florida|
|Fiesta||No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 Georgia|
|Rose||No. 7 Stanford vs. No. 13 Nebraska|
|Orange||No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 12 Florida St.|
|Cotton||No. 5 Oregon vs. No. 6 Kansas State|
|Chick-fil-A||No. 8 LSU vs. No. 15 N. Illinois|
The same "who will get left out" argument that exists in the current BCS system will still exist in the four-team playoff, just with No. 5 left out instead of No. 3. We've got a simple scenario in 2012 to determine our top two, but there is as much an argument for the Gators to be included in a top four as there is for the Ducks. Could you imagine the mayhem to determine a top four if Notre Dame had lost on Saturday? Drawing that line in the sand is much more difficult, and that is reflected in our balloting.
Seven different teams make it into the top four across our 10 ballots. There is Texas A&M (ranging from No. 2 to No. 10), and Georgia (falling outside the semifinals on more than half the ballots, yet firmly hanging on at No. 4 on others). Of the 10 ballots, only three had the same four teams in the semifinals -- and that was not even the consensus order.
Now that part -- the difference in order -- would be the new debate created by the playoff system. How different teams are seeded and matched up in the semifinals could be the difference maker for a team's potential national title run. It's entirely based on the human element, and if the selection committee is going to be transparent there will be some drama regarding how the members voted. That extra revenue created by a semifinal appearance puts a lot on the line for the selection committee, raising the stakes for an otherwise dull balloting process. Fans will be all over the committee members. If fans can dig up Julius Peppers' transcript from some forgotten university servers, they can do some damage to college administrators. If you think SEC paranoia is bad now, just imagine what it will be like when "they rig the seeding to set up a SEC vs. SEC title game."
Good thing for us, this is just a mock committee. The disgruntled fans are normally satisfied with a loving note in the comment section or on Twitter.
It's going to be very interesting to see how they set up the real selection committee. Who is on it, how the results will be shared -- just a few of the dirty details left to be decided for this future postseason.
A few interesting notes about this week's ballot:
• Northern Illinois finished ahead of Rutgers and Louisville, earning a bid to one of the host bowls. In our fictional setup that features the Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl as semifinal games, the Huskies would face LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. In the 2012 BCS system, it is actually Kent State in the best position to slide into a non-AQ bid.
• Despite the other differences in the top four, Notre Dame is a unanimous selection for the top spot -- just like the Irish were in Sunday's AP Top 25 balloting.
• After Texas A&M, the three teams with the greatest variance in the balloting are Florida, Kansas State, and Oklahoma. Each one of them were placed as many as five spots apart by different voters, but as you can see most of the teams are all over the board.
The CBSSports.com playoff selection committee is: Tony Barnhart, Dennis Dodd, Bruce Feldman, Tom Fornelli, Jeremy Fowler, Jerry Hinnen, Matt Hinton, Chris Huston, Jerry Palm and Chip Patterson.