No drama. That's what the weekend's college football provided leading up to the big announcement on Sunday of which teams would qualify for the four-team playoff. Form held, there were no upsets, and ESPN's four-hour selection show Sunday was more than a little humdrum. However, depending on how you feel about the playoff system, this isn't necessarily such a bad thing.
Clemson defeated North Carolina, and Alabama rolled past Florida in their conference championship games. Oklahoma was idle, and the Big Ten Champion would be in whether it was Michigan State or Iowa. The only question was whether or not the Spartans would jump Oklahoma into the third seed, which they did.
So that sets up the two semifinals New Year's Eve: Undefeated Clemson vs. fourth-ranked Oklahoma in Miami, followed by second-ranked Alabama vs. number three Michigan State in Arlington, Texas. The winners of those two games would meet January 11 in Glendale, Arizona for the title. Good enough? Why not.
This will be the second year of a decade-plus long mega-deal for the College Football Playoff. There will be no changes anytime soon. But what if the post-season had eight teams, or 16, or 24? Using this year's rankings from the college football playoff committee, you would have some pretty good games.
Eight-team playoff: Let's pretend for a minute that eight teams got into a post season, using current bowl games as the sites. The top bracket would have (1) Clemson vs. (8) Notre Dame. Not bad. The winner would play the winner of (4) Oklahoma vs. (5) Iowa. The bottom half of the brackets would feature (2) Alabama vs. (7) Ohio State, and who wouldn't like a rematch of last year's National Championship game. The survivor would face the winner of (3) Michigan State vs. (6) Stanford. The only sad thing about that matchup is that it would have to be played Christmas week instead of New Year's Day. That game would be an ideal Rose Bowl.
Sixteen-team playoff: The bowl season kicks off on Saturday December 19, which would provide plenty of sites for first round games. You would have (1) Clemson facing (16) Oklahoma State, with the winner facing a great 8-9 matchup in (8) Notre Dame vs. (9) Florida State. (5) Iowa would face (12) Mississippi, with the winner getting either (4) Oklahoma or (13) Northwestern. In the other half, we would love (2) Alabama against (15) Oregon, and (10) North Carolina vs. (7) Ohio State. (6) Stanford would draw (11) TCU in an interesting matchup, but the final game would either be a dream or a problem, depending on your perspective. (3) Michigan State would face (14) Michigan. Two in-state rivals and two teams from the same conference that already faced each other. Some would say that shouldn't be allowed while others would want to see it. There isn't a bowl game in Detroit anymore, but maybe a trip to the New Orleans Bowl, or the Citrus Bowl in Orlando would be enticing for Michiganders. Some great games, but the National Champion would have to win four games to get there—an additional 33 percent to their schedule.
24-team playoff: If you really wanted to get carried away, you could have two dozen teams. The top 16 would get a first round bye, with these games as play-in games. Big 12 teams (17) Baylor vs. (16) Oklahoma State with the winner getting (1) Clemson, (24) Temple vs. (9) Florida State with the winner vs. (8) Notre Dame. (5) Iowa would get the (21) Navy-(12) Mississippi winner, and (4) Oklahoma would face either (20) LSU or (13) Northwestern. The (18) Houston-(15) Oregon winner would get (2) Alabama, and (23) Tennessee-(10) North Carolina would get (7) Ohio State. And finally, (6) Stanford would face the winner of an intriguing (22) Utah-(11) TCU contest, and (14) Michigan would have to get past (19) Florida before getting that chance against (3) Michigan State.
Too many playoff games? Yeah, probably, but think about that while you're watching Georgia State-San Jose State in the Auto Nation Cure Bowl, Middle Tennessee-Western Michigan in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, or Mississippi State vs. North Carolina State in the all-important Belk Bowl. Enjoy.
It's a miracle!: Which was more unlikely, Aaron Rodgers completing that Hail Mary pass to Richard Rodgers (no relation) for the Green Bay comeback win over Detroit in the NFL Thursday night, or the unranked UCLA basketball team knocking off number one Kentucky that same evening? The football play was one in a million, but I'm still taking the Bruins.
Baseball buzz: Major League Baseball's winter meetings got underway today and run through Thursday in Nashville. Expect a lot of player movement, but there was nothing significant in day one. The Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly had a deal with Cincinnati for closer Aroldis Chapman this morning, but it turns out the Cuban fireballer is under MLB investigation for allegedly trying to choke his girlfriend, and then going out into his garage, grabbing a gun, and firing six shots. No charges were filed. Chapman admitted to firing the gun but denies the choking. I don't think that's the bang baseball was hoping the Winter Meetings would start with.
Should this matter?: After losing out on re-signing free agent pitcher Zack Greinke to Arizona, the Los Angeles Dodgers do not look like they are in a position to win in 2016. This despite winning three consecutive division titles, but then firing their manager because that wasn't good enough. The Dodgers have been stockpiling draft picks, and the goal is to be in good position for “2017 and beyond”, according to President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. With this upcoming season likely being Vin Scully's last, wouldn't it be nice to send him out with a championship? Dodger fans have been waiting 27 years, and can wait longer if they have to. With the face and voice of the franchise, not so much.