Larry Scott Thinks Plus One is Back on the Table

All of the momentum of the college football postseason talks has centered around a four-team playoff. The status quo is off the table, and the plus one had faded away. Well, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott thinks the plus one might have a shot after all:

The Southeastern and Big 12 conferences' announcement Friday of a bowl game between their champions revived the possibility of a "plus-one" title game after the bowls, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told The Wall Street Journal. Scott called Friday's announcement of the new postseason pairing a "game-changer." ...

"I'd say before Friday that idea of a plus-one didn't have much traction, but I think the announcement on Friday's a game-changer," Scott said. "We're pretty far down the path on four-team playoff options, but given the very positive reaction to what the SEC and Big 12 have done, it's possible that (a plus-one) could get some traction."

Here, a "plus one" is not a euphemism for a four-team playoff. It refers to a system where two teams are selected after the bowls have been played for the national championship game.

I saw a lot of folks on Twitter say last week when the SEC/Big 12 bowl was announced that suddenly it and the Rose Bowl sounded like national semifinals. It appears here that Scott is thinking along the same lines. In the same article, John Swofford also mentions that a plus one might come up again as a potential model, although he sounded less interested in it.

I'm really not sure what the point of Scott's comments are, unless most of the Pac-12 presidents are only interested in a plus one. However back in March, Pac-12 presidents all said they were in favor of a playoff (albeit one with only conference champions). What gives?

I suspect that Scott probably sees the Rose Bowl and SEC/Big 12 games as de facto national semifinals in the newly clarified college athletics landscape. Those two games can theoretically include the champions of the four power conferences, and then a plus one system would take the winners for the national championship game. It's all so simple, and the Rose Bowl is saved!

Except it's not. The point of a seeded playoff is to have the semifinals match up No. 1 with No. 4 and No. 2 with No. 3. More often than not, both of the best two power conference champs will not be playing in the Rose Bowl. It's also conceivable that the ACC or Big East champ (yes, Boise State's ceiling is that high) could actually be one of the top four conference champions. They're shut out of those two games. And hey, sometimes a conference runner up is better than some other conference's champion. It can't really have been so long since January that anyone forgot that fact.

In short, a plus one stinks in comparison to a four-team playoff that takes the best four teams. A four-team playoff with guaranteed spots for conference champs in the top six is still better than a plus one, though not as good as a top four-only playoff. The cat's out of the bag; fans are expecting a four-team playoff. The conference commissioners will get tarred and feathered if they come back to us in June with anything else.

Stop trying to muck this up and make it complicated. No one bowl game, even the Rose, is bigger than the sport. Keep it simple. Take the top four teams and put them in a bracket. This isn't difficult.

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