Texas Football: Why the New Playoff System Helps the Longhorns
Well, college football fans, the long-awaited playoff is finally here. It may not be perfect, but it is here, and it is a most welcome sign of change.
Here are the Cliff Notes on the most significant decision in college football over the last decade. The playoff will feature four teams selected by a committee, where the semifinals will be rotated among the six major bowls and the championship will be awarded to the highest bidder.
There is still some skepticism surrounding the change, especially with regard to the selection committee, but Texas fans can rest assured that their beloved Longhorns will be just fine in this new system. Here's why.
The Selection Committee Will Have No Problem Picking Texas
Fans of smaller programs probably suffered an aneurysm when they read that this new format includes yet another selection committee, but it is a welcome sight for the country's most profitable football program.
Purists may hate this, but college football is all about the money, plain and simple. No matter who is chosen to serve on this committee, one can almost guarantee that money will be a focal point when deciding who will play in these games. There is plenty of evidence to support this considering that the championship game is going to be played in whatever city shells out the most money to get it.
This is bad news for the Cinderella programs we see every year, but good news for teams like Texas that are revenue-generating machines. If it comes down to Texas and another program that makes less money, it is a pretty safe bet the Longhorns will not be the angry ones after the decision is made.
Sorry if this upsets fans that believe in a higher moral standard for sports, but that is just how it is going to be.
Being Conference Champion Is Not Required to Make the Playoff
Another feature of this new playoff format that helps the 'Horns is that teams are not required to be conference champions in order to participate in the playoff.
Somewhere, the members of the 2008 team are cursing in frustration, but this provision does certainly help the Longhorns in future since it also implies that a major conference can have more than one representative in the playoff. This means that should another 2008 scenario take place, Texas will not have to rely on an upset to get a fair chance at being selected.
Obviously with this format being the way it is, winning the conference is definitely the safest way to ensure a spot among the final four teams. The reason this is encouraging is that the committee at least left the door open for the possibility of multiple deserving participants from the same conference.
Best of the Big 12 Is Basically Guaranteed a Spot
While it is not required that the Longhorns win the Big 12 to earn a spot in the playoff, it will certainly help their case considering the conference's current status means its champion will almost certainly be invited to the party.
Not only has the Big 12 survived the realignment craze after what seemed like certain death, it has been able to reaffirm itself as a national power thanks to the additions of TCU and West Virginia. Most importantly, the conference is secure in its position as a top-four conference, and it is a foregone conclusion that its champion will be selected to participate in the playoff.
This is good for Texas, a program on its way back to the top, because not only is this conference very winnable, but there is no championship game. Think back to 2009 where a middling Nebraska team pushed the Longhorns to the brink and almost ruined their shot at a national title. Yeah, no more of that noise.
I'm sure loyalists from the other conference that do have championships will take issue with this, but no conference championship game means more time to get healthy and less time worrying about a potentially back-breaking loss. Granted, this will change if the conference adds more teams, but right now, all Texas has to do to win the conference is get it done in the regular season. Easier said than done, but also easier than playing an extra elimination game.
The Big 12 Is Well-Positioned to Become a Superconference
Even though the topic of super-conferences is almost exclusively speculation, it is nice to know that the Big 12 and Texas alike will be just fine should 16-team conferences come to fruition.
The super-conference chatter has quieted as of late thanks to the resurrection of the Big 12, but the establishment of the four-team playoff makes increases the odds of this taking place. This probably will not happen until a selection committee fiasco on par with what happened in 2008 or last season. When that happens, the natural course of action would be to do away with the selection committee and have the four teams determined by whomever wins the super-conferences.
This scenario would be nightmare for a lot of conferences and programs, but not the Big 12 and Texas. As stated before, the best of the Big 12 is basically a lock for the playoff, making the Big 12 a very logical starting point for a super-conference along with the SEC, Pac-12 and Big 10. Even if the super-conference format occurs under more natural circumstances, the Big 12 is still a convenient destination.
Basically, Texas is set in the Big 12. It will not have to worry about relocating or losing more rivalries, though more teams will mean a conference championship game. As long as the Big 12 brass continues to stay current in its practices, Texas is positioned quite nicely here for years to come.