THE GRUDGE REPORT: Has CFB Lost Half The Country

Another CFB season is heading towards a Southern Cocktail Party ending, which might not be all that good.

Are you ready for Clemson-Alabama, Part XX? (or whatever it is)

Are you ready for two or maybe even three teams from the Southeastern Conference in the Final Four?

Are you ready for a college football season which ends with the party invitations going to only those in a 700 mile (or closer) radius?

The 2019 college football season is barely a month old and we can say with a reasonable amount of confidence that EVERY team WEST of Norman, Oklahoma is not only out of consideration for the national championship, but is also probably even out of Final Four contention.

And it's not even October, when conference races take over the schedule.

Now, if you listen to the chatter coming from ESPN, touting its shiny new ACC network or the weekly praise on the high level of play at the top of the SEC, you would think that all is right in the world of college football. There are good story lines unfolding in all parts of the country.

It may well be (more about that in a bit). But having half of the country eliminated from the national championship race before leap peeping season hits its peak in New England can't be a good thing.

College football has never been a national sport in terms of universal appeal. It thrives on regional battles. What sells in Tuscaloosa has no traction in Trenton.

For much of its glorious 150 year history, college football fed off the arguments about Who was No. 1 coming from different polling places and different parts of the country. The system was set up so that the two BEST teams sometimes didn't even have the opportunity to face each other, creating off season arguments about whether Big Ten champion Ohio State or SEC champion Alabama (each committed to a different New Year's Bowl game) was No. 1. Or whether the Pac-12 champion was more worthy than the Big 12 (or back in the day, Pac 8 or 10 or Big 8 or SWC)

In the past 25 years, the BCS and now the CFB playoffs changed that, with varying degrees of success.

But as one of my favorite people, former Big East commissioner MikeTranghese, said many times, "Sometimes there are unintended consequences'' to actions.

The CFB playoff system was set up to fail in one sense, since it offered only four playoff spots split among the Power 5 conferences as well as independents such as Notre Dame and a slim chance for the best team from the Group of 6 conferences.

In its five year life span, the CFB has had two reps from the Pac-12 (Oregon 2014, Washington 2016). The mighty Big Ten has been shut out the past two seasons. Either Alabama or Clemson has won the title the past four seasons.

College football will always sell in the South. That is not the issue. But another dose of an SEC--ACC (Clemson) pool party will not play well in Peoria or Portland (on both coasts).

The fact that early season losses may have already again shut out the Pac-12, combined with a deja vu sense that we are going to see the same participants at the end, should be a warning sign for college football.

Ideally, the CFB would love to have a dream Final Four of four unbeaten conference champions. That has never happened, but it could happen this season without a major set of upsets.

An SEC unbeaten champion from a group consisting of Georgia, LSU or Alabama is very possible. So is an unbeaten Big Ten champion and an unbeaten Oklahoma. Clemson looks like the lock of the group, since the ACC is at an all time low tide in quality.

A once beaten Oregon should be in the discussion, but it will take a series of upsets around the country to open a spot for the Ducks.

The other way to create more diversity is to expand the playoff to 8 teams, which would guarantee a spot for each conference champion (rep) and three at-larges. But that is years away from receiving serious consideration.

For now, college football is rolling dice which could turn into a more serious problem for a sport which has become too regional in deciding its champion.

***

BC Moving UP or Down and Out?

Boston College hosts unbeaten Wake Forest Saturday at Alumni Stadium. Nationally, it is a blip on the screen.

For BC, it is the start of a climb up the mountain again. The Eagles (3-1) face Wake on Saturday, travel to Louisville next week and then host North Carolina State in two weeks.

They could win all three games, which would make them bowl eligible and give BC coach Steve Addazio a little more breathing space.

They could LOSE all three, which would effectively end Addazio's reign at The Heights.

Anywhere in between, leaves the Eagles and Addazio in his ongoing quest to have an eight victory season, in a state of limbo. But one thing is clear, the next three weeks are the most important stretch of Addazio's 6-plus seasons at BC.

Stay tuned.​

Comments (2)
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mfdewan
mfdewan

As a baby-boomer, I look back fondly on those January 1st mornings when I had the whole line up of bowl games to watch. But first, the BCS swapped around the bowl team-formats and now, the Final Four format has diminished all other bowl games. I accepted the then final AP rating of the Nation's Best and immediately started arguing who was robbed...much more enjoyment overall back then.

duckcardinal
duckcardinal

Meanwhile, half of the Pac12 will have kickoffs (10 & 10:30 EDT) that insure they won't even make it until halftime before most media complete their wrap up shows/story deadlines for the day (Friday AND Saturday).



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