Just give up.
Also ignore reality.
That’s the message from Northern Illinois Athletic Director Sean Frazier in an article on ESPN.com.
Frazier is an advocate for an eight-team playoff that would take the top G5 champion out of the Access Bowl (a rotating slot in the Cotton, Fiesta, or Peach). The proposed playoff would pit the five G5 champions and three at-large teams, presumably G5 non-champions and independents.
Would it be financially lucrative? Absolutely.
The Cotton, Fiesta, and Peach would replace Western Michigan (this year) or last year’s Houston or 2014’s Boise State with a high finisher from one of the high-resource conferences or Notre Dame. The three bowls would not object to the idea of replacing those schools with another high resource conference team or Notre Dame. The CFP already budgets for the payment to the group of five, replacing that slot with a team that will likely sell more tickets and maybe draw a larger television audience is a win even paying the same amount to the group of five.
Would television offer more money for seven playoff games replacing four bowl games? Without question. Right now ESPN struggles with how to market the games. The added storyline and drama of win or go home raises the value significantly. Three weeks of the games increases the profile of the teams shown.
SOUNDS GREAT? IT IS TERRIBLE
Voluntarily pulling out of the larger community of FBS football (larger in attention) is surrender.
Sean Frazier is quoted by ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy saying, "There is absolutely no ability for us (teams in the Group of 5) to be in that national title conversation," Frazier said. "That's just reality. Anyone that says we can: That's a flat-out lie."
Less than 12 weeks ago Houston was very much in the CFP picture. They were 5-0 having knocked off #3 Oklahoma, the Sooners finished #7 in the CFP poll. Houston managed to drop two games in three weeks to AAC opponents. They seemed to right the ship and knocked off Louisville then ranked #5 in the CFP and #3 in the AP.
Houston at 13-0 with wins over two top 5 teams would have a resume that matches up well against CFP #4 seed Washington (four top 25 wins, 2 of those top 10, none top 5) and #3 seed Clemson (three top 25 wins, one top 5 over Louisville by 6 compared to Houston’s 26 point romp).
If the Cougars had run off a 13-0 record and missed the playoff, we could have the conversation arguing that it is a “flat-out lie” that a G5 could make the playoff. Houston had the chance to build a playoff-worthy resume before Tom Herman slipped town for Austin and just failed to do it.
Western Michigan only being #15 in the CFP poll is only proof that no top 25 wins, 9 MAC wins, two Big 10 wins, the best over Northwestern who went 6-6 in regular season, a win over the Sun Belt’s 6th place team and FCS isn’t going to garner top 10 much less top four respect.
A BETTER IDEA
The Group of Five do not need an eight team quasi-FCS playoff, the leagues need a better post-season beyond the Access slot.
With the Sun Belt having a tie for its championship (an impossibility starting in 2018 when the league adds a title game) there were five G5 champion teams that did not participate in the Access bowl.
Arkansas State ripped UCF who had the 7th best AAC record. Appalachian State squeaked past Toledo who tied three ways for the second-best record in the MAC. CUSA’s WKU blasted Memphis who finished with the fourth-best record in AAC, the AAC’s champion Temple lost to Wake Forest who tied for 9th best record in the ACC. MWC’s San Diego State defeated Houston who finished tied for the fourth best record in the AAC.
Out of those teams, only one got a shot at a P5 and it was a P5 that went 3-5 in conference play.
Currently. the G5 schools have a mess for their bowl games. Cooperation could improve the reward for champions.
After the Access bowl team is selected rank the remaining four champions (bowls don’t renegotiate until after the 2019 season so there will be no co-champions). Pit One vs. Two and Three vs. Four. No playoff just an attempt to pit each champion with a credible opponent.
There are G5 involved bowl games in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Orlando, Miami, and San Diego. Pick two and rotate the 1-2 and 3-4 games. So maybe in 2020 1-2 play in Las Vegas and 3-4 play in Orlando and then reverse that in 2021.
By working with large, tourist oriented cities, players and fans get rewarded with a great destination in addition to a worthy opponent instead of teams that barely made it to eligibility as happened with Temple and Arkansas State this year. The two winners will have bolstered their case to be ranked in the final poll as well.
If conferences can cooperate discuss a foolhardy playoff plan that reinforces the perception of being second class, surely they can cooperate on a minor reform to their bowl selections to give them quality opponents in a first class environment.