I don’t think we’re breaking any news here at Crystal Ball Run by saying that the sport of college football appears to be on a collision course with a four-team playoff in 2014. Sure, there are plenty of details to figure out between now and then; how we pick the four teams; where the games will be played; what to do with the Big Ten’s precious Rose Bowl; you know, stuff like that. But for all intents and purposes a playoff is coming, and everyone seems to be on board.
Well everyone that is, except for one of college football’s most powerful coaches.
That’s because in a meeting with the media yesterday, new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was hesitant to get excited about a proposed four-team playoff. As a matter of fact, he actually doesn’t like it at all.
Here’s what Meyer told reporters on the proposal.
“I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this, but I think the ideal setup is what’s happened the last decade of football,” said Meyer, who won two national titles at Florida in that span. “I think we’ve had a true national champion. I was (coaching) a Utah team where I was hoping for a playoff at that point because that’s the only access we could have. But I don’t know. I can understand why it’s happening. But I was not one of the screamers and yellers saying it was broken before.”
Hmm, there are so many different directions we can go here.
For one, this news isn’t totally surprising, since over the last seven or eight years, Meyer has been one of the true benefactors of the current system. Thanks to the BCS’s quirky computer algorithms, his Florida team controversially got into a BCS title game over Michigan in 2006, and in 2008 it wasn’t certain that the Gators were one of the two best teams in college football either. If you’ll remember, there were three one-loss teams in the Big XII that year, in addition to an 11-1 USC team which most thought to be the best club in college football, yet it was Florida and Oklahoma who played for the title. Still, Urban’s clubs made the big game, and to their credit won each. As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And for Urban Meyer’s personal welfare, the system ain’t broke.
In addition, Meyer does bring up one pretty salient point about a playoff that no one else seems to talk about: The timing of it all.
Now granted, as things stand, there’s probably a little too much time between the end of the regular season and bowl games, but under most playoff proposals, the National Championship Game would be played the week after the semifinals. Would that give players enough time to recuperate? Would it give enough time to each coaching staff to properly game-plan? Meyer isn’t so sure:
“You play in one of the bowl games and then it’s (teams seeded) 4 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 3 and then you go play the championship game,” he said. “I can only imagine the workload that’s going to be on that coaching staff and those players. I can’t even fathom that you’re trying to get ready for a national championship in two days – because that’s what you’ve got because of travel.”
Now, whether you agree with Meyer or not, it is interesting to hear the other side of things. Since these rumors first started floated a few weeks ago, it seems like - from conference commissioners, to coaches like Nick Saban, to fans- everyone is universally on board with a playoff, as if it is some be-all, end-all, fix-everything-that’s-broken solution. It obviously isn’t, and at the very least, it’s interesting to hear the other side of the argument, especially from someone who has been on the front-line to experience it all. Not to mention that it’s not like Meyer hasn’t been on the other side of the BCS coin as well. As he mentioned in the first quote, Meyer’s 2004 Utah team missed out on a chance to play for a title, when a playoff might’ve provided them one.
Unfortunately, if Urban is looking to pick an argument, his back may be against the wall. Something tells me he won’t win this debate.
For all his opinion, insight and analysis on college football, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.