Playoff talk is heating up in college football. We've heard about a plus-one, using home sites for playoff games and the possibility of just using conference champions to determine the members of a four-team playoff.
While everything is still very much up in the air and it sounds like no one involved in the discussions is exactly on the same page, SEC commissioner Mike Slive did tell Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News that he is open to using campus sites for a playoff.
Here's what Slive said:
"There are plusses and minuses to that concept. One is that you're playing a couple games to determine the national champion and to make it a home game for somebody has always been perceived as a competitive advantage. The NCAA men's basketball tournament is not played at the homes of the higher seeds. So you have to look at that.
"The other side is there would be the question of fan travel and the ability to travel to one or more games. You guarantee good attendance (at a campus stadium) -- for one team. It needs to be looked at carefully. It's on the table and it should be on the table."
You also guarantee a pretty tough road environment for a team traveling into SEC territory. Slive has to like that. But it would also provide teams outside of the SEC a chance to bounce an SEC team from a chance at a national title on its home field. Big Ten faithful would no doubt love the chance to face an SEC team in less-than-ideal conditions for southerners.
(But have an SEC team win in much, much colder weather and the Big Ten would never hear the end of it.)
For my own selfish reasons, I prefer neutral sites. I think it helps make the venue as fair as possible for each team. But I understand that it's probably better for schools financially to have home games and it might be more practical.
What Slive isn't so open to is having only conference champions participate in a playoff. If that had been the case last season, Alabama wouldn't have been crowned national champion because LSU won the SEC. However, you wouldn't have heard so much whining from outside of this part of the country that came with an all-SEC national championship.
That also means Stanford, who was fourth in the BCS standings heading into bowl season but didn't win the Pac 12, wouldn't have had the opportunity to play for a national championship.
Here's what Slive said:
"I'm willing to have a conversation about (only conference champions), but if you were going to ask me today, that would not be the way I want to go. It really is early in the discussions, notwithstanding what some commissioners say publicly. There's still a lot of information that needs to be generated."
I have to agree with Slive when it comes to not having just conference champions in the playoff. Last year, LSU and Alabama were clearly the top teams in the country and they deserved to be in the BCS title game. You automatically eliminate last year's national champion by using only conference champs. If you just put in the top four BCS teams, then Oklahoma State can talk all day about potentially putting up 30 points on an SEC defense. Stanford gets its shot and LSU gets another game to figure out what exactly it wants to do on offense.
If we are going to use the BCS in college football and you want a four-team playoff, then we should use the top four teams in the BCS standings -- however it shakes out. You won't please everyone, but it's only fair if that's the system we're going to use.