Coaches want best four in playoff
Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 11:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 11:37 p.m.
DESTIN — Commissioner Mike Slive and the SEC football coaches are making it clear they are all in favor of the proposed four-team playoff. They're making it just as clear that they want it done their way, with the four best teams in the nation getting the invite — whether they've won a conference title or not.
“To me, it's got to be the best four teams,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said at Tuesday's SEC Spring Meetings. “In our league, we might have four of the best teams in the country.
“I don't think there's any question. Do we want to have the best teams competing (in the playoff), or do we want conference champions? We want the best teams at the end of the day.”
Muschamp reflected the opinion of Slive and the other SEC coaches.
After the first round of meetings Tuesday, Slive reiterated that the league will push for the four best teams in the nation to comprise the playoff field.
“I think our league has been consistent with the idea that if you're going to have a four-team playoff that the best four teams ought to be selected to play for the national championship.”
That appears to be the consensus opinion of the league coaches.
“If you take the top four teams, I think we'd all be in favor of that in our league,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “If you take four that won conference championships, only one of us would go. The other way, we'd have a shot at two going. That's kind of what everyone is talking about.”
Different conversations are taking place in other conferences across the nation. Coaches in four conferences — the Pac 12, Big Ten, ACC and Big East — have said they are interested in at least preferential treatment for conference champions when determining the four-team playoff.
The SEC is going to be reluctant — very reluctant — to accept such a prerequisite to determining the four teams that will play for the national championship. The conference commissioners will meet June 20 to determine how the teams will be selected and where the games will be played.
The SEC, the most powerful conference in college football, will try to make an argument for the best four teams going (regardless of whether they've won a league title).
The league's best argument is what happened last season. Alabama lost to LSU in the regular season, then came back to beat the Tigers in the BCS Championship Game in New Orleans. The national champion did not even win its division title -- but was rated the No. 2 team in the BCS Standings at the end of the regular season and had the opportunity to play for the title.
“I want to be a team that gets into the (four-team) tournament and wins it,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “I think we had the best team (last season). I want to be the team that wins the conference, plays the best team in the national championship game and wins it.
“We wanted to play the best team in the country when we got there last season — and we did.”
Determining how the field of four will be selected is a hot-button topic at the SEC Spring Meetings.
Richt said the most plausible system might be the old one — using the BCS Standings to determine the best four teams for the playoff.
“The way we do it now (might be the way to go),” Richt said. “If you just want to keep that in place and take the top four teams in the BCS, that's one way of doing it. That's already in place. You wouldn't have to re-invent the wheel.
“I'm not for making it a prerequisite that you have to be the winner in our league (to reach the title game). I would not make that part of it.”
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, long a proponent of a college football playoff, floated an idea Tuesday: do what the NCAA does in basketball and have a selection committee that would determine what teams reach the four-team tournament.
Spurrier said he would recommend that college coaching legends Frank Broyles and Darrell Royal be on the committee.
“Those are two honest and fair guys,” Spurrier said. “They could come up and have a committee like basketball does.”
As for the proposed playoff, Spurrier is the one SEC coach who said he would like to see a larger field.
“If I was running the show, I would probably do like President Obama said. I would find eight teams and start playing,” Spurrier said. “But that's not going to happen. Whichever way they tell us, we'll try to participate.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban also said he would be in favor of a selection committee.
Spurrier was asked if he thought there would be eight teams deserving of a shot at the national title.
“Geez, do you know who's won the Super Bowl the last two years?” he said. “A team that was 8-8. Were the Giants 8-8? And the Packers didn't even win their division the year before and got hot in the playoffs.
“It just depends on how much importance you want to place into a playoff system. I know there have been a lot of NCAA (basketball) champions that didn't necessarily win their conference, but got hot in the tournament. I don't know how it will play out.”
It seems pretty obvious that the SEC would find only one resolution acceptable — take the four best teams in the country and let them play if off.
“I'm in favor of the best four teams in the country playing for the national championship,” Slive said. “I'm comfortable with that.”
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