Every game matters. Again. For real.
You have hopefully by now read the big-picture college football playoff columns by our colleagues Andy Staples and Stewart Mandel, and have at least some grasp of what our sport will be facing in terms of a postseason in two years’ time. While on Monday we said we’d be hearing more from the presidential oversight committee than a straight-up approval of the commissioners’ proposed four-team playoff plan, in essence, that’s about all we have to go on at the moment. Logistical hurdles such as the specifics of the bowl rotations, which bowls will even be doing the rotating, the selection of the selection committee, revenue sharing and criteria for admission to the postseason will loom ever larger over the next two seasons.
But here, our thoughts went immediately to what the big picture will look like for some of college football’s smaller programs. No conference has secured guaranteed money or bids. And who even knows what the mid-major conference alignments will be in 2014? As with most issues regarding would-be buster teams in the postseason, we won’t really know until it happens. We won’t know until we get there how an undefeated Louisiana Tech might play against a one-loss Virginia Tech in the eyes of the committee. We still might never find out how a matchup like that might play out on the field. But talk radio be praised, we’ve got two years now to bitch about it. And from here, all we can see are already solid truths getting truthier.
The idea that there’s a be-all, end-all solution to a game with this many moving parts operating on such disparate collections of resources is profoundly goofy, but for the aspiring Boises and TCUs of seasons to come, there is but one solution still, after all this dithering: Win. Win again. Then again. Repeat.
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thomas called the new system “a tremendous step,” and in many ways it is. Idaho President Duane Ellis is pleased with the increase in postseason “access points,” which are indeed more numerous. But swapping selection methods for the postseason doesn’t remove the subjectivity from the process. There will be no such thing as an unbiased playoff committee member. Anxious mid-major teams, the target of your December frustrations has just shifted from the polls and computers stacked against you to an even smaller collection of powerbrokers holding your fate in their hands and awaiting your first misstep. For the cream of the MAC and the WAC and all the rest, every game really does matter, now more than ever.
The new access points are real, and open to you, but at season’s end, vaulting an undefeated upstart team over a one-loss elite power is going to take something special. So take even more feverish advantage of every opportunity to raise your programs’ profile over the next two years. Schedule hard. Take greater glee than normal in running up the scoreboard when you can. Command the attention of a nation. This new controlling committee contains human elements, and as such is not perfect. You will have to be.