Georgia Southern rolled to back to back wins this weekend by beating Louisiana Lafayette 34-24. After starting 0-6 and looking more like a bunch of pieces on the field rather than a team with chemistry, Interim coach Chad Lunsford has gone 2-3 over the past 5 weeks and the transition of our team has looked drastically better. I don’t know if it was practice schedule, motivation, or just a change in the guard Georgia Southern’s football team has their mojo back! OK, I know it’s only 2 wins in a row and we are still not going bowling this offseason but the change hasn’t gone unnoticed down in Statesboro.
Today, Monday the 27th, Georgia Southern has officially named Chad Lunsford Head Football Coach moving forward. If it weren’t for the fumbles against Georgia State he would have a 3-2 record as interim coach. Fortunately for him he has an opportunity to beat new Sunbelt team Coastal Carolina to improve his record to 3-3 and winner of 3 in a row. Most people looking on the outside of the situation would think this final game means nothing but pride and they would be partially correct. Playing for pride means a lot to seniors and players of the program that want to end the season on a positive note. However, winning the way we are and riding the momentum and belief that we can win can mean more than finishing 3-9. Congratulations Coach Chad Lunsford. You deserve this opportunity to bring Georgia Southern football back to it’s roots. I’m looking forward to it.
College Football Playoff
A huge wrench was thrown into the hype machine that is college football this weekend when Auburn (10-2) upset Alabama (11-1) to win the SEC West and play UGA in the SEC championship game this coming Saturday. Miami losing their 1st game of the season wasn’t as detrimental to their season because they still control their own destiny. The upsets would end their as the other big named teams finished off their seasons accordingly.
Prior to last weekend the growing belief was that the SEC Champion, ACC Champion, Oklahoma winning out, and the BIG 10 Champion were all locks for the College Football Playoff. However now, things aren’t so simple. Alabama losing was a lot bigger than anyone anticipated because for the first time since the playoff began Alabama might not make it. Excuse me for not feeling too bad for the Crimson Tide as they are seemingly the SEC favorite every year. Even with the loss it’s hard not to view Alabama as one of the top teams in the country as they seem to be surrounded by a lot of 2 loss teams now.
It’s interesting to think about and I’m not one for hypotheticals, who am I kidding I love them, the situation is now a little more clearer. The SEC champion will be in the playoff. Unlike last year when the committee screwed over Penn St. They will have to have learned from their mistakes this season and they will put the Champion in over the 3rd team from said conference. The ACC will have a 1 loss champion in either Clemson or Miami and the winner will get in. That leaves 2 more spots.
Oklahoma is a team who I think is the most dangerous team to play right now. Arguments for everyone else aside, Oklahoma has the 1 thing no other big time team has and that is Baker Mayfield (2nd in passing yards nationally) and the best offense (1st in Total Offense) in the country. That being said, if they win they are in but lose to TCU (18th in Total Offense) and that’s where things will get interesting.
The other lock is Wisconsin winning the BIG 10. Ohio St with or without J.T. Barrett must play one of the more underappreciated defenses in College Football. The argument of them not playing anybody would be relevant if they didn’t dominate every opponent they played defensively. Wisconsin’s defense ranks 1st in total defense, 5th in Defense, 2nd in first down defense, and 7th in 3rd down conversion defense. Meaning good luck moving the chains and if you manage to move down the field they will make it extremely difficult to score. Everyone has been so caught up on Alabama and Clemson round 3 but quietly Wisconsin has been more dominant than both of them where it matters most…Defense.
What about the rest of the field? That’s where it’s interesting. Alabama sitting their at 11-1 has a strong chance to upend one of the 2 spots up for grabs. TCU beating Oklahoma or Ohio St beating Wisconsin would put them in the playoff. Even though they lost and do not have a chance to win a conference championship they will only have 1 loss to TCU’s and Ohio St’s 2 loss record. If they both win then that will be an entirely new conversation.
My rankings go as follows:
9. Ohio St.
How many more season must we endure before the final alteration to the postseason is made? The people who only want the 4 team playoff are no different from anyone who believes the BCS was the right way to do things. Their thinking is obsolete. The opposing arguments usually are “we don’t want to extend the season another game”, “with only 4 spots every week matters more”, or “if we expand to 8 then we’ll expand it more”. While these are just concerns and important issues, allow me to make my counter arguments.
Lengthening the season by 1 game. Every bowl eligible team ends up playing 13 games. The National Champion and runner up will play 15 games this year. 16 games does seem like a lot of games but only 2 teams will play 16 games every year. A way to fix the injury issue that comes along with playing extra games would be to add another bye week and start the season earlier 1 week or move the season back one week.
Auburn’s Volleyball team, for example, played an exhibition match on Aug 19th this year, the school semester didn’t begin until Aug. 21st. They had clearly been practicing well before that, so starting the football season earlier wouldn’t be a problem even if classes hadn’t begun yet and in turn would probably lean to even better week 1 matchups seeing as how players wouldn’t even be enrolled in classes at the time.
Also, carrying the season over into the spring semesters wouldn’t be too big a problem because Basketball starts in October and goes until April. Baseball goes well past the end of the spring semester into the summer. Time constraints only look like a problem because we make them one. As lengthening the season pertains to injuries, if you have more spots in the playoff there wouldn’t be an added pressure for these players to play through injuries and sit a few weeks because they would be able to still have a shot if they were to lose another game or 2. Plus you can add another bye week in there for added rest. The byes would be separated into halves with each team getting an early bye (between weeks 1 and 6) and a later bye (between weeks 7 and 13. Added rest and added time would make the season much more manageable than some people think.
Only 4 spots creates more weeks as de facto playoff games. As it sits now with 4 teams the margin for error is slim. Most teams don’t have room to slip up without risk of falling away from the top 4. Some teams have a chance like Ohio St to lose 2 games and make the playoff but others are not awarded the same leniency. Some people would look at the Iron Bowl last weekend as a playoff game but if their were an 8 team playoff would either team be less motivated to beat their rival? I doubt it. By making more weeks de facto playoff games for other teams, not named Auburn or Ohio St, we are left with an unfinished product by season’s end. Alabama missing the playoff after going 11-1 or having the 2 loss BIG 10 champion Penn St miss the playoff last season doesn’t help college football. It diminishes the accomplishments of those teams.
The playoff plays favorites, the first playoff left TCU and Baylor outside the playoff because the Big 12 couldn’t decide on who was their champion so the committee left them out. TCU might have had a chance to win a national championship but because there were only 4 spots to be had the committee had to come up with some arbitrary guidelines to fill those spots. Every year someone is getting left out of the playoff that should have a chance to compete for a national championship. Their losses during the regular season weren’t considered playoff games or we would never have a 2 loss team in the playoff. The growth to 8 is perfectly natural and needed in the state of the current climate of college football.
If we expand to 8 we’ll expand more later down the line. This line of thinking is considered a Slippery Slope Fallacy, where one thing that happens will eventually lead to other non related outcomes. First of all, they should’ve started with 8 teams at the beginning. Obviously with only 4 spots and 5 major conferences at least 1 major champion will get left out. If you add in a season with Notre Dame finishing undefeated or with 1 loss and 2 major champions will miss out of the playoff, but at the very least we have 1 Champion missing the party. The foundation was laid decades ago and the layout is right in front of everyone’s faces to have an 8 team playoff.
We start with 4 major bowls pitting 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, and 4 vs 5. These bowls would be in rotation but for the sake of argument would be the Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Rose Bowl. The winners would move on to the Cotton Bowl and Chickfila Bowl. With the National Championship being in a rotational traveling location as it already is set up. Every year these bowls rotate in pairs. The logistics are easy to maintain because they are already in place. The conference affiliations will obviously be no more unless of course they decided to keep the tie ins and let the bowls be placed in a bracket like system where the Sugar and Rose Bowl winners would play the Orange and Fiesta Bowl winners, instead of doing it by ranking.
The main argument is for teams like Alabama who’s season is all of sudden feeling dead because at 11-1 they may get to see an 11-2 team play in front of them or if Alabama gets in then the 11-2 champion will be sitting on the outside looking in. I don’t necessarily believe in conference champions getting in because there will always be the fluke seasons where a 3 or 4 loss team wins their conference championship. I want to see a dark horse. An Underdog. The 4 teams playoff spot is killing recruiting for the power 5 schools because they cant sell them on the idea of playing for a national championship. Down are the days of a Boise St because they would still get left out in this day in age. It is 2017 and it’s time to progress the sport forward. The infrastructure is in place, the mindset just has to expand.
No body could ever convince me the teams at 9 or higher at the seasons end need to have a shot at the title, because that is what the regular season is for.
Notable teams who would’ve had a chance at a National Title since 2002 in an 8 team playoff:
These teams were conference champions, co-champions, or 1 loss division runners-up and finished in the top 8 in final rankings
2016: Penn St
2015: Ohio St, Stanford, Houston
2014: TCU, Baylor
2013: Mich. St, Alabama, Oklahoma
2012: Oregon, Kansas St
2011: Oklahoma St, Boise St
2010: TCU, Wisconsin, Stanford
2009: Boise St. TCU, Cincinnati
2008: Utah, USC
2007: West Virginia, UGA, Kansas, USC
2006: Boise St, Louisville
2005: West Virginia, Penn St
2004: Auburn, Utah, Louisville, Texas
2003: LSU, Miami, Ohio St
2002: UGA, USC, Kansas St
I sure think the playoffs would’ve been fun and I’m sure some of the champions from those years wouldn’t have turned out to win the National Championship. It’s a pretty diverse group and as the years go on we forget how good some of these teams were during their respective seasons. Some names of note stand out more than others: Boise St, TCU, Louisville, Utah, and West Virginia were all teams that joined bigger conferences to put their programs in a better situation nationally. We’ll never know if those teams had what it took to win it all. 8 spots would allow room for the committee to take a chance on, say, an undefeated UCF team this year for example.