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Klonsinski: Preseason prediction a reality

| Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Not to say that I told you so or anything, but …

“This is it. The year when all those BCS flaws are eliminated and college football has a season finale it was meant to have. Four teams, most likely from the five power conferen …

Wait. Four … and five …

Uh oh.”

I told you so.

Sept. 3, 2014. That’s the date for the column in which I went off on college football for dropping the ball with its new playoff system. The people at the top of the sport had the unique opportunity to get the correct format of the inaugural college football postseason, and they didn’t. Instead of creating a system in which we will truly find out how good teams like TCU and Baylor are this year, they created a system in which both teams — not just one like I was originally concerned about, but both — are left off the playoff bracket. I knew there was going to be a situation like this and that it would also prompt a quick response by the money behind whichever conference was left out: the Big 12 athletic directors have already met and discussed pushing playoff expansion as a possible remedy. However, they shouldn’t even have to be talking about that; it should have already happened.

In the September article, titled “Klonsinski: NCAA botched its big chance,” if you would like to validate my claim, not only did I roast the NCAA, but I also laid out how the ideal playoff works. In review:

“Eight teams make the playoffs. Yes, eight. Automatic qualifiers for the champions of the power-five conferences. … Throw in an automatic qualifier for the highest-ranked school from a non-power-five conference. Doesn’t matter what it ends up being ranked. Throw in another automatic qualifier if another non-power-five team is in the top 16. … That leaves one at-large, minimum, although it will almost always be two. Seed the teams however you wish and play them, No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, etc. …”

Just for kicks and giggles, let’s take a look at how my playoff would have turned out this season:


No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 8 Boise State 

Would I really expect Boise State to even make this a game this year? Probably not. Yet everybody said that in 2007, too …

No, let’s be honest. The Broncos, my non-Power 5 conference slot, would get steamrolled by the Crimson Tide. But hey, they have a shot, and someone like them is at least guaranteed a shot every year. America loves the underdog, and some team in this position will shock the world that previously never would have gotten the chance.


No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 7 Mississippi State 

For the sake of this column, I’m using the College Football Playoff rankings, which put the Bulldogs over No. 8 Michigan State. Does Sparty have a case that it should have been in instead of Mississippi State? Perhaps. Yet is the decision of keeping them out as egregious as leaving out TCU, Baylor or both? No. It wouldn’t be choosing between a conference champion (Ohio State) and two co-champions — more like choosing between two also-rans who usually have clearer resumes on which we can base decisions. There will always be some hair-splitting with the final spot or two, but it gets easier as you move down the rankings.


No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 6 TCU

Would this make most of the country outside of Tallahassee, Florida, Horned Frogs fans for a weekend? I don’t know for sure, but at least this version has the Horned Frogs in with the top at-large bid and the chance to show us how good they are or aren’t.


No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 5 Baylor

There you go, Baylor fans and all college football fans really. Vegas will start this matchup of potent offenses and conference champs with an over/under of 130 combined point.


Something to note about this year: it just happened to work out where the Power 5 conference champions ended up ranked as the top five in the rankings. Had a team like Wisconsin or Georgia Tech won its respective conference championship games, those teams would have finished ranked below at least TCU, perhaps Mississippi State as well. In that case, I would still award them for winning their conference and give them the No. 5 seed.

So there you have it: how this year’s College Football Playoff should look. My next complaint is that college football is beginning to leave its heart and soul, the college campus. Think about it — even in the current playoff system, a team that wins the national championship will play its three biggest games of the year at neutral sites far from its student body. I’d go into that further, but hey, I still need a reason to get mad about college football next year.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


About Zach Klonsinski

A History graduate, Zach spent all four of his years on campus as a resident of Knott Hall. Hailing from Belgrade, Montana, he covered a wide variety of sports in his time at Notre Dame, including Football, Hockey, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Women's Tennis, Fencing, Rowing, Women's Lacrosse and other events around campus. You can contact him in his post-graduation travels and job search at [email protected]

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