The new College Football Playoff is still more than a year away from being implemented (576 days and counting as of this writing per the web site Collegefootballplayoff.com), but there is already at least one call for change to the new format.
University of Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds wants the newly approved format to jump from a four-team to an eight-team format before the first four-team playoff has ever even been tried.
"It's a baby step," Dodds said recently at the Big 12 meetings. "It's a good step. I'm kind of an eight-team person."
Dodds believes the four-team configuration leaves too much room for conversation about a deserving fifth team that does not make it into the playoff, saying there would not be as much debate about a ninth team.
The College Football Playoff's four-team field will be used for the first time at the end of the 2014 season. Two national semifinals will be played on New Year's Day, 2015 with the two winners of those games to then play in the College Football National Championship Game on Monday, Jan. 12. The No. 1 seed faces the No. 4 seed in one semi, while the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds face off in the other semifinal.
If the arrangement had been used last season No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0) would have played No. 4 Oregon (11-1) in one semifinal (would the winning coach Kelly have been granted the first interview with the Philadelphia Eagles?). Meanwhile, No. 2 Alabama (12-1) would have played a second SEC Championship by facing No. 3 Florida (11-1) in the other semifinal (after already beating Georgia (11-2) in the SEC title game in early December).
The odd team out in a four-team playoff last season would have been No. 5 Kansas State (11-1). The Wildcats were the 2012 Big 12 champions, but took a stumble with their only loss on Nov. 17 last season when the fell to unranked Baylor (remember all the rankings used for seeding purposes are pre-bowl rankings).
There was not much grumbling about Florida being left out of last season's BCS Championship Game and there likely would not have been much more dissention about K-State being the team left out of a four-team playoff.
Seedings and pairings for an eight-team playoff would have looks like this:
No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0) vs. No. 8 LSU (10-2), No. 2 Alabama (12-1) vs. No. 7 Georgia (11-2) in a rematch of the SEC Championship Game, No. 3 Florida (11-1) vs. No. 6 Stanford (11-2), and No. 4 Oregon (11-1) vs. No. 5 K-State (11-1).
The odd team out in the eight-team model would have been Texas A&M (10-2) with freshly crowned Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Dodds' proposal of an eight-team field is there would not be as much outcry about the No. 9 team in the country being left out when compared to the No. 5 team going bowling instead of to a playoff game. Think the prospect of the Heisman Trophy winner being excluded wouldn't rankle some Texas-sized feathers?
That said, notice the four-team format includes no teams from the Big 12, while an eight-team format gets one in. Cha ching, that's money for Dodds and every other Big 12 AD if a school from his conference gets into the party.
The jump from four to eight teams may eventually happen, but now is not the time. None of the other current postseason tournaments for other sports like men's or women's basketball or baseball resembles its original format.
Remember the 1952 NCAA Basketball Tournament (I don't actually remember it - they played those games in black and white, right)? The tournament field that season began with just 16 teams (including the likes of Oklahoma City and Duquesne). It took just two wins for a team to advance to the Final Four, which was NOT played in a dome at that time.
The basketball field actually began as an eight-team event and did not expand to 16 teams until 1951. It took all the way until 1975 for the field to double to 32 teams, it went to 40 in 1979, 48 in 1980, 52 in 1983, and finally 64 teams in 1985 (those "play-in" games that the NCAA doesn't call play-in games started popping-up in 2001).
Those are baby steps.
College football fans have been waiting forever for a true playoff format. The BCS system, while far from perfect, was a step up from the good ol' boy bowl system when No. 1 might be playing No. 5 and No. 2 playing No. 16 with a "mythical" national champion crowned. The BCS system at least tamed some controversy and the playoff system should taper more debate, although there is room for some at the onset.
While the BCS formula relies on human polls and computer rankings, the four teams in the College Football Playoff will be chosen by a selection committee. "Performance during the regular season, including, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, championships won, and other factors" will go into those decisions (that criteria per Collegefootballplayoff.com).
Get ready for the outcry.