"We can't control the committee," Patterson said. “All we can do is try and win.”
That's TCU head coach Gary Patterson after yesterday's win over number 6 Kansas State, a win that shoud elevate his team to number 4 or 5 in the country and the cusp of making the final football four. Yet here we stand, with another coach begging to a committe because his team is out of options to "settle things on the field." At the end of the season, both TCU and Baylor could have one loss, and Kansas State could also be tied for first place in the Big XII with one conference loss. If the playoff committee is going to look at a Big XII team they'll need to choose between these three, who have now all gone 1-1 against each other, and the Big XII does not play a championship game.
The esteemed committee members do not collectively seem the type to say "screw it, too hard to figure out ... just put the B1G Championship Game winner in instead." But this season is shaping up to be the Big XII's worst nightmare. They've been touting their scheduling ability to play nine conference games and have every team play each other, but with their three top teams going 1-1 against each other that has completely backfired. The winner of a TCU-Baylor rematch in a Big XII championship game would surely be chosen over the winner of the weaker B1G, but there is no such opportunity.
This scenario, along with other happenings like Notre Dame being eliminated, have inspired some bold predictions and observations:
Over-arching observation: As long as there are four slots in the bracket and five power conferences, the CFB Playoff will ALWAYS be a referendum on which four conferences were the strongest each year, and those champions will be selected.
Prediction: The Big XII will add two more teams to bring their total to (hey look!) 12 ... and soon. And it doesn't matter much who they are at this point. (By the way, in this "new world" of the Power 5 autonomy and the CFBP, is that "rule" still in place that a conference MUST have 12 teams in order to stage a championship game? Wasn't that a BCS/NCAA thing? Couldn't the Big XII these days just split into two five team divisions? But I digress). This season may already prove without a doubt that they NEED that KSU-Baylor championship game. Grab Cincinnati, Colorado State, BYU, or get the SWC band back together and welcome Houston, Rice and SMU back.
Prediction: Notre Dame will permanently join the ACC. This may not happen right away, but it's clear that the committee will have its hands full already trying to choose among six contenders for four slots -- The power five champions plus the second-best SEC team. Granted, it would have happened in 2012, but the whole landscape has shifted and will continue to shift, especially if the domino of the Big XII adding CCG happens and strengthens their CFBP candidacy. We all know how much of an anomaly that season was for them.
Prediction: The B1G will regret prioritizing TV markets over program strength when expanding. At least where it comes to getting teams into the CFBP, that is. Adding Rutgers and Maryland only weakened the conference and gifted the ACC a slot to add a stronger Louisville program. If the Big XII begins playing a CCG and ND joins the ACC permanently, that makes the B1G's two closest "rival" conferences in the strength-of-schedule battles even stronger. Having Missouri in the B1G West and Notre Dame in the B1G East would have made the conference a lot more compelling.
Long-Term Prediction: In 2025 college football will be NFL-ized anyway. Traditional conferences will be voluntarily dismantled and AFC/NFC-style conferences and divisions will be put in place, allowing for a cleaner 8- or 16-team playoff bracket.
What does this mean for Michigan? Obviously not much right now, we've got our own issues to sort through. Except hey, the more CFB continues to resemble the NFL on a big-time scale, that bodes better for attracting Jim Harbaugh, right?
EDIT: I did not realize that Kansas State and Baylor have not played yet, my error. My point about the possibility of a 2008 Big XII Texas-Oklahoma scenario remains, but I should have done more fact checking than thinking to myself "I'm pretty sure they played each other."