Fri Jan 16 12:30pm EST
As for the political intrusion, I find it distasteful and unprincipled but also telling, and possibly inevitable. Some people think a college football playoff will never happen, but I can't remember not thinking the sport was headed for a bracket. It's too obvious: The big conferences formed the Bowl Coalition, which became the Bowl Alliance and then, after the SWC dissolved to make way for the "superconference" concept in the Big 12 and SEC (the sacrifice of the Big East for the sake of the ACC a few year's later hasn't quite panned out, yet), the Bowl Championship Series as we know it, all of them centered around creating bigger, better bowl matchups and, finally, a "true" champion. That's not going so hot, so a mini-playoff -- a "Plus One," maybe, or a four-team setup -- is the next step in that process, then a full-fledged version and so on, until it's a bloated monstrosity that everyone loves.
Every year, another barrier falls and the pressure increases from among the ranks of the staunch suits who are always said to be fiercely guarding the status quo. In 2007, it was Florida's president presenting a plan to the rest of the SEC; last year, it was Georgia's president making the push, open discussion by BCS honchos of instituting a mini-playoff format under the "Plus One" tag and Florida State's president publicly declaring a playoff "inevitable" over the summer. Since the start of the last season, six different high profile coaches -- including four with a BCS championship on their resumé, along with the winningest coach in the sport's history -- publicly supported a playoff.
Coaches are one thing; coaches are on the payroll. Grandstanding politicans, antitrust lawsuits, Congressional committees and bills in the House of Representatives are another level entirely. If the College Football Playoff Act of 2009 has anything to say about it, not only will there be a playoff, but it will happen in 2011, on the dot, and the revolution will be televised when ESPN takes over the show. The president is another level still, and he won't shut up about a playoff. In principle, this may be a waste of time, energy, money and governmental power. In practice, it's something of a landslide.
We may be years away, but as we prepare to watch the snowball picking up steam throughout the offseason, the question for anyone who still thinks a college football playoff "will never happen" will be this: Who's going to stop it?