SEC coaches sound off on a playoff system

By Zackary Al-Khateeb

The Crimson White, U. Alabama via UWIRE

There has been tons of speculation pointing the Southeastern Conference’s run of six straight national championships as the No. 1 reason college football will be moving towards a playoff system in 2014.

And having two SEC teams play in the BCS National Championship Game only added fuel to the fire.

It is still undetermined, however, the logistics of when and where the games will be played and who will make up the selection committee. But perhaps the most scrutinized aspect of the new system will be the committee’s guidelines for playoff-eligible teams. Some have suggested the top four teams in the standings should be in, while others have placed emphasis on conference champions being the only teams to make it in.

For Alabama head coach Nick Saban, it’s clear what the criteria to get into the playoff should be.

“Well, I think what the fans want to see in the four-team playoff is the best teams, the four best teams in the country, get in the playoff,” Saban said. “…Whether you win a conference championship or not, if you’ve played and you’re ranked in the top four teams in the country, you ought to have the opportunity to play in the game.”

Saban went on to say that whoever is a proponent of the champions-only playoff system is simply speaking out against the Southeastern Conference, which has won the last six national titles, with the last being played between two teams from its conference, in Alabama and LSU.

“I think, to be quite honest with you, whoever’s making the statements about conference champions is really making a statement against the SEC and against any league who has more than one good team who would qualify, trying to enhance the opportunity for somebody from their league to get in,” Saban said.

LSU head coach Les Miles shared Saban’s sentiments, saying committee members will have to avoid making decisions based on conference preferences, and make choices that will be fair for all of college football.

“The interesting thing is, over time, the great scrutiny of this country on that selection committee will be very significant,” Miles said. “They’ll have to get it right. They’ll have to defend their vote… The point is that the person on the committee have integrity and be able to go beyond what would be natural conference allegiance. College football is too important.”

Despite all the scrutiny of potential issues of the playoff, Georgia head coach Mark Richt said he was pleased with the new system. He said it not only made the national championship landscape more competitive, but continued to uphold the integrity of the regular season.

“Some people may not like it the way it is, but I think the bowl system is outstanding,” Richt said. “I think our regular‑season games are huge. I’m talking about the entire BCS. I’m not talking about just the Southeastern Conference.”

Richt did mention one caveat to the new system, however. He said he thinks anything past four teams in the playoff will ruin the importance of college football’s regular season, and should stay as it is.

“I think if you get a 16‑team playoff and beyond that… I just hate to see a day where we might play Florida, and whether you win or lose, you still go to the playoffs. No one thinks it’s that big of a deal. I don’t want college football to lose that. I think it’s the right amount and I think it’s a good step. It might be the only step, as far as I’m concerned. It might be just right.”

Read more here: http://cw.ua.edu/2012/08/22/sec-coaches-sound-off-on-a-playoff-system/
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