Secondly, this has absolutely nothing to do with the outcome of the Bama-LSU game this past weekend. However, that game did get me to consider changing my position (before the game even kicked off). But what really put things into perspective for me is not Bama's hopes for competing for the national title taking a hit (because there's still hope for that rematch, or for LSU to slip up and we end the season with a bang), but it's actually after looking at what Arkansas is going through. Basically, Arkansas is screwed. Let me explain.
Arkansas has lost to 1 team this season, Alabama on the road (BCS #3). Now granted, it was a blow-out, and Arkansas did struggle on the road against some pretty damn bad teams, as well as one mediocre team (A&M), but they are in essence, a 1-loss team to what I consider to be at a minimum the 2nd best team in the country.
So what do they have to do to end the season and make it to the national title game? Hell, what do they have to do to even make it to the SEC title game? Even at that, are they even guaranteed a chance to reach a BCS bowl game? The last one is actually likely if they beat LSU again, but the other two possibilities, even if they win out, are slim to none.
Even if Arkansas wins out, there's no way that they will simultaneously leap-frog Bama in the rankings while at the same time keeping LSU ahead of Bama, which is what it would take, assuming Bama wins out (and LSU doesn't choke to Nutt again in a week and a half). Their only hope is having both them and LSU as the top two teams ranked in the BCS out of the three. Just don't see that scenario as very likely. If they don't get to the SEC title game, I see no hope for them getting to the national title game, unless everyone chokes that last weekend somehow (even that probably wouldn't be enough).
So what is Arkansas to do now? Play for a BCS bowl? What is Bama to do now? Hold on for the Sugar Bowl? What if LSU chokes in their next two games and then barely gets by Arkansas (giving Arkansas 2 SEC losses to LSU's 1 against Ole Miss)? LSU still goes to Atlanta (although definitely not the national title game).
So basically, there are now only really about 4 teams (possibly up to 7) out of 120 total with a legitimate shot at getting to the title game.....with 4 weeks left in the season (including conference title games). And only two of them control their own destiny, LSU and OSU. The other 2 teams that need help are Stanford (the team with the best chance should OSU fall), and Bama (need a loss to both OSU and Stanford, and possibly Boise State and even Oklahoma for good measure). The other 3 possibilities are Boise State (slim chance), Oklahoma (I actually think this is very possible if Stanford falls and if the Bedlam game is hyped up too much and voters vote accordingly), and an outside shot with Oregon (although an LSU rematch with them would be much less appealing than a Bama rematch). Arkansas? They're screwed, unless we happen to drop one to MSU or Auburn on the road.
With an 8-team playoff? Or even possibly a 4-team playoff? Wouldn't that diminish the regular season? Looking back on this weekend's game, I don't think there's any way that the significance of our game with LSU would be diminished at all. Because let's say there's an 8-team playoff. We're fighting for who controls their destiny to face the #8 seeded team and who will have to face the #5 seeded team (assuming we drop to #4 if Stanford runs the table). Actually with Boise State sitting at #5, it may be best to lose that game in hindsight, but I think you understand what I mean.
My point is this. While I realize there is still so much for us to play for (a shot at a 12-1 season with a Sugar Bowl win is nothing to scoff about), it pretty much has all but about 3 fanbases feeling deflated, and one of those (Stanford) still can't be assured of getting their shot. Boise State is probably just as deflated, knowing there's almost no hope for them.
Now, with all of that said, I still have one huge hurdle to get over with this line of thinking. And that is that with an 8-team playoff, you're going to have 7 of the top 8 teams in the country end their season on a losing note, deflating all 7 of those fanbases. That's the only thing keeping me from having full-blown support for a playoff system at this time.
If they truly want the two best teams in the country to meet in the BCS title game, we'd see a rematch (even if LSU drops a game to Arkansas). But no, "we had our shot" is the mantra, and I agree somewhat with that. But look at last year. Does anyone truly think that Auburn was the best team in the country last year? Perhaps the two best players, sure. But the best overall team? In several of their games, only one bounce that went the other way and they're looking at Shreveport instead of Glendale. At the same time, with LSU's situation, is it really fair to tell them that they have to beat Bama again in a 1-shot deal? How in the hell do we get around that?
A playoff keeps the regular season alive for many more fanbases, especially after dropping a game, which diminishes the rest of their season after their hopes were so high (see Clemson). But a playoff will leave 3 or 7 teams (depending on playoff format) with a losing game, unless they played the losers in "consolation games". Not like that would be a very big draw. And in an 8-team playoff, having to go through 3 of the best teams in the country in back-to-back-to-back weeks and hope we stay healthy enough throughout all that might not be the best way to go about it either.
Anyone care to make any arguments for/against one side or the other? Cause I've officially moved from being a gung-ho bowl system guy to one that's on-the-fence. I'm just trying to figure out what's best for college football.....regardless of what happened this past weekend.