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Before I detail what would happen if I were the czar of college football, let’s take a look at where this season is headed with one regularly-scheduled game to go.

The top contenders for the four-team playoffs all were unscathed last weekend.

Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and Washington are 1 through 4 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings. Florida State is disappointed to be bumped to No. 5. Oregon, Texas and Alabama remained at 6-8.

Hail to the Buckeyes and Wolverines for getting to 11-0 to set up a classic B1G Game in Ann Arbor on Saturday. Suspended Jim Harbaugh won't be scowling and exhorting on the sidelines opposite a scowling and exhorting Ryan Day. But the inspiration of Harbaugh-less Michigan sideline may be just as good.

This is not necessarily an elimination game. The loser of a close game would have a case for the Final Four. But there would be much controversy if a one-loss Big Ten team trumped an unbeaten Washington or Florida State. Actually, I would say, Advantage Huskies/Seminoles, if they take care of their business.

Then again, Florida State, which still has a regular-season date at capable Florida and the ACC championship meeting with one-loss Louisville, could bail out the committee from a difficult decision. FSU quarterback Jordan Travis, a sixth-year senior, went down with a season-ending leg injury. That said, Florida quarterback Graham Mertz, who suffered a nondisplaced collarbone fracture, also seems likely to be sidelined.

If Florida State and Washington remain unbeaten, the committee could face a tough call. The Big Ten will be arguing vehemently that its one-loss team is deserving, if the Ohio State-Michigan game is a nail biter.

Until more games are played, all I know is. . . five into four won’t go.


All of the potential committee nonsense is why an eight-team playoff makes perfect sense to me.

Rather than the bloated 12-team playoff that will be in place next season, an eight-team playoff, which I began recommending before the current crop of college stars were born, addresses all the key concerns.

An eight-team playoff would include five conference champions—most likely Georgia, Florida State, Washington, Texas and the Michigan-Ohio State winner, plus three at-large entries—the Big Ten runner-up, Oregon and Alabama.

I’ll leave out the debate over plugging in a Group of 5 team instead of one of the at-larges. This is all pie in the sky, anyway.

In my world, that would set up four nifty New Year’s Day games: Say, Georgia-Oregon, Michigan-Alabama, Florida State-Texas and Ohio State-Washington. Or maybe a Tulane instead of Oregon, to address the Group of 5 question.

Of course, college football, in its relentless quest for compromise and a bigger television-revenue check, has raced right past the obvious eight-team format.

Now we’re gong to have games on campus in December—yuk!—and the very real chance that a team comes out of nowhere to win the national championship.

You know all that talk about a season-long body of work? That’s not that big of a deal with 12 teams. In the eight-team format, if Alabama, Oregon or the Michigan-Ohio State loser is crowned national champion, the case could be made that any of those teams were worthy. With the 9-through-12 candidates, that’s far less true.

First, some pundits will tell us that the crop of 9-through-12 seed candidates—teams like Missouri, Ole Miss, Penn State and Oklahoma—have no chance to win the national championship. And then, when one of them does get hot, they'll moan that the regular season is diminished. And they'll be right.

Bottom line: A 12-team playoff waters down the regular season in a way that an eight-team playoff does not.

Another prediction: When one of the top four seeds loses next year, the whining about having a bye is a disadvantage will be shrill.

Will college football take the TV money and run to a 16-team playoff? Or backtrack to an eight-team playoff reduces the bottom line?

We all know the answer to that.


@ Remember what a fascinating joy Deion Sanders’ Colorado revival was at the start of the season? With his son, Shedeur, quarterbacking a high-powered offense and his son, safety Shilo, making tackles, the Buffs stampeded into the spotlight by beating TCU, Nebraska and Colorado State.

Since then, Colorado has gone the way of the buffalo, losing seven of its last eight to fall to 4-7, including 1-7 in the soon-to-be-extinct Pac-12. One game remains, at Utah.

At least Sanders and his two football-playing sons are winners in the endorsement game.

@ Remember how easy it was to mock that miserable Iowa offense, directed by Kirk Ferentz’ son, Brian, who was contractually obligated to average 25 points a game or lose his job?

When the Hawkeyes nudged past Illinois 15-13 on the strength of a safety Saturday, they clinched the feeble Big Ten West title, and earned the right to more public abuse heading into the Big Ten championship game against the Ohio State/Michigan winner.

With one regular-season game to go against Nebraska, Iowa is averaging 18.5 points a game. After scoring 203 in its first 11 games, It would need to erupt for 97 against the Cornhuskers to reach 25 points a game.

Brian’s job is no longer in question. In late October, the school announced that he would not return. Careful readers of this space—thank you very much!—know that I have been suggesting for years that if Kirk really cared about Brian, he would have found him a job at another school where he could have toiled out of the nepotism spotlight—or at least made him his defensive coordinator.

That said, the raw and bittersweet emotion that Kirk and Brian showed after surviving their entrenched battle with Illinois was heartrending. No matter how you feel about Iowa and its offensive offense, it was impossible to not be touched by a father and son enduring—and in their own way, succeeding.

Happy Thanksgiving to the Ferentz family. And to everyone everywhere, may you find comfort and sustenance in a complicated world.