Mike Gundy’s Playoff Plan Remains Great, Would Include a Mid-Major

Written by Kyle Porter

Mike Gundy has been talking about how he would amend the College Football Playoff since the College Football Playoff began. It’s eventually going to happen, of course, because … ???, but it might not happen for a few more years.

Eight teams, seven games, all the dollars for ESPN.

Anyway, Gundy was asked again on Monday on the Big 12 media call what he would do. His answer was a little bit self-serving because OSU (and everyone) would have a much better chance at getting into an eight-team playoff than a four-team playoff, but that doesn’t mean it’s not A. Correct and B. Going to happen.

“I think they’re going to have to go to eight teams,” said Gundy. “I understand the academic requirements and amateur athletes vs. professional. You’re going to run into an issue where the human element with the committee is going to cause some concerns across the country. Whether we like it or not there’s way too much money involved in this. There’s five Power 5 conferences. Somebody’s going to win a conference championship and not get in.”

Maybe Oklahoma State in the Big 12 this year!

“In my opinion, they should have eight. If you win your conference, you’re in. That means it’s important to win your conference. When you go to the smaller schools — Western Michigan as an example last year — Western Michigan should be in. Otherwise you won’t ever, ever have a smaller school that has a chance to win a championship. They’re not ever going to get in.

This is a drum I’ve been beating for years. North Texas comes to camp in August knowing if it goes 12-0 it has no chance of winning it all. Why are you even playing in the same division of football as Texas and Texas A&M?

“Then you still have your two wild cards. In my opinion they’re going to have to go to eight. If you want to make it entertaining which is what people want to see, you take the Western Michigan from last year and play them against the four team. You don’t put them against the one team. You go to eight, you find a time to do it. Even if you have to cut the regular season or start it earlier. I think that’s the direction the game is going.”

So here’s what an eight-teamer might look like based on current standings.

No. 1 Alabama (SEC) vs. No. 8 USC (P12)
No. 2 Miami (ACC) vs. No. 7 Wisconsin (B10)
No. 3 Oklahoma (B12) vs. No. 6 Georgia (Wild card)
No. 4 Clemson (Wild card) vs. No. 5 UCF (Mid-Major)

Something like that. And yeah, Ohio State doesn’t get into my eight-team playoff even though it might get into the real four-teamer.

My only issue here is that college football is fun as hell right now. It’s certainly not egalitarian, but who doesn’t love arguing about the merits of 1-loss Miami vs. 1-loss Alabama vs. 5-loss Ohio State? It’s the sport within the sport. It makes the regular season great. It makes every week a thrill.

The flip side to this argument is that picking the wild cards above was actually kind of tough. There would still be plenty of arguments (and always will be) because of inequitable schedules. The five champs are indisputable, but can you put 1-loss Georgia in over 2-loss Auburn given last week’s result? Do we value non-conference wins too much given that Oklahoma State plays teams like Pitt and Auburn plays teams like Clemson? Is it fair to give Alabama a USC team while Clemson, as the No. 4 seed, gets UCF?

The debate might be a little different but it would still barrel on.

Would all of this be more fair if you had a clear path to the title (i.e. winning your conference)? Yes it would. Would it probably be better for all involved? Sure. There wouldn’t be as much friction, though, which I think is half the enjoyment of all of this.

Of course, I also was dubious that the CFP replacing the BCS would be better for the overall circus aspect of the sport, and it’s actually gone the other way. It’s become more of a circus. But as soon as you remove the human element, as Gundy said, in picking those postseason teams, you lose a little bit of the juice.

I think that’s a good trade — conference champs should certainly be eligible for the playoff (says every Big 12 blogger) and now the bottom half of FBS can legitimately say if they win all their games, they’re the champs. But open this thing up too far, and the CFB regular season might turn into … college basketball.