One of, if not THE hot topic across the college football world is how a future four-team college football program will look. As part of the ACC spring meetings, ACC coaches weighed in on the matter. To no one's surprise, ACC coaches prefer a conference championship requirement.
"There has to be some stipulation in there about champions," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Because not everybody plays the same schedule. We play a nine-game conference schedule. Other teams don't. That's weighed in. Some conferences have a conference championship game. Others don't. Being a conference champion is no small task. Not only are you going through your conference, then you turn around and play a conference championship game. There has to be a lot of weight given to conference champions."
This stance, of course, makes total sense for the ACC, who would benefit from having a lower ranked conference champion get a spot in a four-team playoff over a higher ranked non-champion. A champs-only format would have benefitted the ACC back in 2003, where a No. 7 Florida State (10-2) would have earned a playoff spot over No. 1 Oklahoma (12-1).
The other side of the argument is that it's difficult to quantify the value of a conference title given the same differences in schedule, conference championship games and quality of play. SI's Stewart Mandel explains:
If anything, the commissioners have made it harder than ever to place value on conference titles thanks to realignment. There are now massive discrepancies between the various leagues, both in size and in the way they crown their champions.
For example: Next season, Texas will face all nine of its fellow Big 12 members, six of which -- Oklahoma State (12-1), TCU (11-2), Kansas State (10-3), Baylor (10-3), West Virginia (10-3) and Oklahoma (10-3) -- won at least 10 games last season. Meanwhile, Alabama will face eight of 13 possible SEC opponents. The Tide get LSU (13-1) and Arkansas (11-2) but miss South Carolina (11-2) and Georgia (10-4).
It's possible that Alabama, benefitting from an imbalanced schedule, could go 12-1 and win its conference, while Texas could go 11-1 but finish second in its league to 12-0 Oklahoma. Yet Scott and Kramer would leave the Longhorns out of the playoff while including, say, 11-2 ACC champion Florida State.
One program that opposes the conference championship requirement is Notre Dame, which both can't win a conference championship and has a seat at the BCS table (along with the other 11 conference commissioners). Another program that will oppose the requirement is Florida State, should the Seminoles land an invite to the Big 12.
Jimbo Fisher should probably just bookmark Mandel's Feb. 28 column in case he needs to revise his stance on a college football playoff conference champion requirement.