I join John Saunders as one of the few college football fans who doesn't necessarily believe college football needs an extended playoff system. I would like to see a four team, two round system, but I don't believe we need a 16 team, multi-round format.
I bring this up because many broadcasters and writers will spend time this season lamenting the plight of those powerhouse teams in the SEC who will not get to compete for the national championship. These teams will eliminate each other in the country's best conference; while top programs in weaker conferences-- notably USC and Ohio State-- will "roll" into the playoffs. Or so the story goes. God forbid a Big East or ACC team go undefeated.
So, here's my sophist position: its not about finding the best team (defined as the players / coaches / system participating on the field), its about determining the best program (which, in addition to everything on the field, includes everything it takes to get those players, coaches, and systems to the field of play). Building a championship program includes acquiring resources. Teams in the SEC have an incredible, ridiculous, borderline criminal advantage when it comes to signing day. Given this huge recruiting discrepancy, I don't pity Georgia's schedule. I find it more remarkable that Jim Tressel can lure kids away from the state of Florida to the middle of the midwest. While Ohio State might not be the greatest collection of individuals every season, it does represent an amazing program- able to recruit significant talent every year. Programs such as USC represent the best programs because they are able to recruit more of the talent available to them. Yes, this is a slippery slope. And no, I don't think an undefeated Bowling Green team should play in the national championship. Yes, I'm o.k. with having a national championship determined by "gray" matter, things that cannot be reduced to simple black and white (or, in more cliche terms, "on the field of play"). But, then again I'm a rhetorician. And...
As a rhetorician, I'm not ultimately interested in the absolute truth of any one champion, I'm more interested in the debate that inevitably surrounds the final verdict. College football provides more debate than any other sport- which is probably why I find myself interested in it more and more each year.