Just a few thoughts as we close the book on the 2014 regular season:
1) The eight-team playoff isn’t going to happen anytime soon: Now that the first four-team playoff is set, some fans and some media are now clamoring for eight. If we just had eight, they argue, we wouldn’t have the hurt feelings at places like TCU and Baylor. Here’s the reality: The fact that we had the Ohio State-TCU-Baylor tension in the last week of the regular season is exactly why the playoff format does not need to change. Here’s another fact: the CFP is a 12-year contract composed of three-year increments that allows each of the six bowls a chance to host the semifinals four times during the contract. We’re not going to even have a serious discussion about this for at least six years, if not more.
2) New Year’s Day is back!: The best thing about the CFP is that it makes New Year’s Day relevant again. The BCS provided a national championship game but it also rendered New Year’s Day to being just another day on the calendar. Under the CFP New Year’s Day becomes a two-day holiday (Dec. 31 and Jan. 1). To watch the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, knowing that the two winners advance to the national championship is going to be something none of us has ever experienced. In 2015 (Cotton and Orange) and 2016 (Fiesta and Peach) the semifinals will be on Dec. 31.
3) The Big 12 won’t overreact to getting left out: There is no doubt that the absence of a conference championship game hurt the Big 12. Just do the math: Ohio State was the Big Ten champ at 12-1. TCU and Baylor were co-champs of the Big 12 at 11-1. But what the Big 12 can’t do and won’t do is overreact and try to add two teams that don’t fit. You have to have 12 teams to hold a conference championship game but the Big 12 could petition the other Power Five conferences for a waiver of that rule or for the ability to schedule a 13th game. Would those conferences help a brother out and grant the waiver?
4) Mariota will win the Heisman, but by how much? Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon and Alabama WR Amari Cooper will join Oregon QB Marcus Mariota in New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation on Saturday. The only mystery here is whether or not Mariota wins by the largest margin in Heisman Trophy history. That distinction belongs to O.J. Simpson who won the 1968 trophy by 1,750 points over Purdue’s Leroy Keyes.
5) Les Miles is not going to Michigan: Coaches (unless you’re Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen) leave for two reasons: 1) Better job; 2) More money. Neither of those things would be true if Miles left LSU for his alma mater. Miles is one of the highest paid coaches in college football ($4.3 million) and his staff makes a collective $5.5 million, which is No. 1 nationally according to a recent report in USA Today. He has a great talent base that allows him to compete for the SEC championship on a regular basis. He is some decent quarterback play away from contending for a championship in 2015. Michigan is a house divided with way too many cooks in the kitchen and an interim athletics director. As the late Jim Valvano said: “Don’t mess with Happy.”
So now we’re going to shut it down until Dec. 29 when we’ll come to you from New Orleans and the CFP semifinals. Thanks for a great year. Hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas.