Over on the Chris Petersen forum thread, Space Coyote commented that Petersen will get at Washington a program he can build as he wants "and isn't required to get 9-10 wins every year."
This is something I've been thinking about lately ... that is, the disparity in expectations among major college football programs, and whether the 4-team playoff coming next year increases the pressure for coaches at high-expectation schools.
It's simply a fact some programs have much higher football success expectations than other programs. Persistent losing is rarely tolerated, but there are plenty of programs where 9-win seasons keep everyone happy. Washington is probably one of those programs. But for places like Ohio State, Alabama, Florida, Texas, USC, Oklahoma ... the expectation is much higher.
So my question is this: Does the new 4-team playoff structure create more pressure on those high-expectation programs? Or less?
I'd argue more. My reasoning is this: today there's an escape hatch for high-performing programs that don't get into the BCS title game. It usually takes a perfect season and some luck to get into the BCS title game. A 10-2 or even 11-1 season won't always get you there, but it's still a great season and coaches can make that argument and generally it'll be accepted.
But with the new playoff system the expectation will be to get into that playoff. Winning it all will be great, of course ... but failing to get into the playoff will be a greater magnified shortfall.
Now there'll be four slots, so the competition is going to be fierce to be in the top 4. Four slots is twice as many as two, and the "perfect season and some luck" argument is diminished. "We finished 10-2!" the coach will argue. "Yeah, but you didn't get into the playoff so you fell short!" will be the counter-argument.
Some programs won't play that game ... preferring instead to play their game and if the record is 8-4 or 9-3 with no playoff, then okay. But the high-expectation schools are going to go all out to make the available playoff slots. Thus my argument that things get more intense, not less.