Gary Patterson’s playoff plan? Ditch league title games
One of the overriding factors in the Big 12 missing out on a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff was the lack of a conference championship game. One of the coaches from that league has an idea for avoiding that situation in the future -- and it doesn’t involve the Big 12 adding a title game.
In an interview with Chris Low of ESPN.com, Gary Patterson of TCU, along with Baylor one of the two teams snubbed by the CFP committee, discussed his ideas for improving on the current four-team playoff model. One of those ideas is to push the playoff field to six teams, and his reasoning is sound: "[I]t makes no sense to have four playoff spots and then have five [power] conferences.”
With the six-team plan, the Power Five conferences would all be guaranteed a spot in the field, with the final spot going to an at-large team -- either a Power Five or Group of Five team, whichever the committee selected. The top two seeds would get byes for the opening round of play the first weekend of December and... wait, aren’t the conference championship games played that weekend?
Of course they are, and this is where Patterson’s plan flies completely off the rails: he wants the other Power Five conferences to ditch their title games.
“I think you would probably make more money on the playoff games in December than you would with the conference championship games,” Patterson said. “Other than the SEC, there were a lot of empty seats that I saw at those conference championship games. The teams playing on New Year’s would have basically the same amount of time to get ready, and you wouldn’t take away from everybody’s recruiting or interfere with final exams.”
Patterson, Low writes, “said he plans to pitch his idea this spring at the Big 12 meetings and hopefully get some conversation going about it nationally.”
It’ll certainly get some conversation going as it’s an intriguing solution to what some perceive be a problem. Whether it gains any traction among the people who matter most is another issue entirely.
Here’s a hint, though: it won’t as the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC will not give up those games because of both the exposure and the money involved. The only conversation that will gain traction is the Big 12 adding a championship game to get up to the level of the other Power Five conferences résumé-wise, either through expansion (unlikely) or a waiver to conduct a title game with only 10 members (more likely). Well, that and getting a handle on the whole “One True Champion” thing.