The college football season is in full swing, and the game never seemed better. The college game is exciting, and the 4 team play off system seems to be working out ok. When the play off system was about to supplant the BCS system, the powers to be in college football tried to create 4 super conferences, with the math being fairly simple. If the conferences were super then the 4 conference champions would most likely make the college football playoffs and make it fairly easy for the selection committee, who would now determine which teams would make the playoffs. But the big 12 would have nothing to do with it and even though they suffered some big losses with teams leaving the conference, they weathered the storm, adding some teams and the conference seems to be pretty healthy for the moment. However, it sets up this problem of 5 Major conferences. and 4 playoff spots. So far the scenario of 5 undefeated conference champions. with one missing the play offs has not happened, but there has been plenty of controversy when selecting the 4 playoff teams. While the super conferences did not materialize, it seems that super teams in college football have. There are over 100 college football teams that are eligible for the playoffs. There is however, a very distinct line between these teams. You can divide college football into four groups. The Super Teams, The Use to Be’s, The Up and Comers, and the Have Nots.
First, the Super Teams. Alabama has been in all 5 playoffs and looks like it is headed for a 6th. Clemson has been in 4 and again looks like it is headed for a 5th. The other contenders this year are Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma, Georgia, Penn State, Oregon and Utah. I would put Utah in the Up and Comers group for now. Other Super Teams with only a slight chances of making the playoffs are Notre Dame, Michigan, and Auburn. The list is not a big one. I define a Super Team as a team that year after year has a legitimate chance of making the playoffs. Since the BCS started only Michigan and Penn State have not been in the playoffs or a BCS final. The list has only 11 teams. Let’s move on to the Use to Be teams, which is the group that at one time would have been considered super teams, but now the programs are on hard times, with no light at the end of the tunnel. This list includes, Florida St., Miami, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Stanford, Arkansas, Michigan St, TCU, Texas, Oklahoma St., UCLA and USC. These are programs that during the late nineties and the first 10 to 15 years of this century had some really good runs, of 3 to 5years losing only 3 to 5 games during the span. Tennessee was a BCS champion. Michigan St. and Florida St. made the playoffs and Florida St. was a BCS Champion and runner-up Miami won and lost a BCS championship game. In the last 2.5 seasons all of these teams have lost at least 12 games. Arkansas, Tennessee, and UCLA have lost over 20 games. There have been stretches where it took these teams 4 to 5 years to lose 20 or more games. There does not seem to any resurgence happening anytime soon. This leads us to the Up and Comers, and this list is the smallest. They are Washington, Utah, Wisconsin and Florida. Washington was in the 2017 play offs and was in contention the last 2 years, but having an off year this year. Florida at one time looked like it might make the list of the Use to Be’s but they seemed to on the way up. They were a big time power under Urban Myer, then fell on some hard times but unlike the other Use to Be’s they seem to be having a resurgence. The other two teams would have been considered the Have Nots but in recent years have made it to championship games and could be on the verge of making the playoffs. That leaves the Have Nots which make up the rest of college football. These are teams that have not smelled the playoffs and probably never will.
What does all this mean? The NCAA wanted to develop these so called power conferences and was hoping to keep the number to 4. It did not work but what developed instead is the super teams. Even when you throw in some teams that have potential to develop into super powers, the list only contains 15 teams. With two thirds of the college football season completed there are only about 6 teams with a real shot at making the playoffs. There is still a lot football to be played and upsets do happen, but it looks like Alabama, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State, and Oklahoma, have the inside edge with Oregon ready to step in, if chaos happens. There are 12 teams in the Use to Be group and I think their problems are tied to the Super Team outbreak. If you want a chance to be on a National Championship team then you had better go to one of the 15 teams. Playing pro football may not even be the no. 1 consideration for recruits, considering what the pro game can do to your brain. Even playing in the playoffs however, I think enhances a player’s draft status. How he performs in the playoff environment does not go unnoticed. In the long run, on the national scene, I think this will help college football to even greater heights and appeal. As a general rule dynasties have made a sport more popular. This also makes the surprise team an even bigger surprise and story. It will be interesting to see if any of the Use to BE programs can make a comeback. In my view they won’t. So if you like the teams that are winning big in college football right now, you should be happy for a long time, because change is not on the horizon.