A New Era in College Football
Playoff Finally Arrives for 2014 Season

After years and years of controversy and clamoring the top division of college football has its playoff, and something tells me there will not be any less of the controversy part.

The imaginatively titled College Football Playoff will commence on New Year’s Day returning college football back to its longtime tradition of playing its biggest games on the opening day of the year. This season, the national semifinal games will consist of the Rose and Sugar Bowls with the National Championship taking place on January 12th in Arlington, Texas. The four teams will be chosen by a 13-member committee who will also release a weekly Power Poll beginning in October. There is no limit to number of teams from one conference and no added emphasis to teams that won their league.

This is good news for the SEC who won nine of the 16 BCS Championships. While the playoff is a good thing, there seems to be way too much subjectivity involved. The BCS system was roundly criticized year after year, but upon retrospect it got the final two teams right the vast majority of years and there was far less opinion involved than there appears to be with the new CFP.

Another thing there is way too much of are bowl games, 39 of them coming this season. While our game in Nashville has grown into one of the more watched and anticipated ones, this season sees the debut of games in the Bahamas and Boca Raton. Yes the excitement should be palpable on Christmas Eve in Nassau when Conference USA meets the MAC in a bowl sponsored by a Louisiana chicken restaurant. It remains to be seen how excited they will be there given the beautiful beaches nearby.

As for the teams to watch, it begins with defending national champion and consensus preseason #1, Florida State. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston returns to lead the Seminoles who hope the only headlines he makes from here forth are on the field and not outside a grocery store. The team with the least questions may be Oregon. The Ducks are led by this season’s Heisman favorite, QB Marcus Mariota.

Alabama will be square in the middle of things again but must settle on a new quarterback, it looks like Blake Sims might get the nod over FSU transfer Jacob Coker. Auburn, who lost to FSU in the title game last January, are also a prime contender but must navigate through the nation’s toughest schedule.

A dark horse championship contender is UCLA. The Bruins are led by QB Brett Hundley and their schedule appears favorable, with Oregon at home. Baylor is another team that could emerge, a game at Oklahoma looming large. South Carolina could also make a Final Four run next January.

The squad with the most hype is Oklahoma, mostly from their 45-31 thrashing of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. OU changed their offense to an up-tempo outfit for that game with ‘Bama’s myriad issues with it last season and they thrived. Still, QB Trevor Knight had proven inconsistent up to that point, he needs to be the player he was against Alabama for the Sooners to avoid an upset somewhere. Ohio State looked to be a leading contender until the loss of QB Braxton Miller for the season with a shoulder injury. Now the weakened Big Ten’s best hope is defending champion Michigan State who, if they can get past a game at Oregon on September 6, could be there at the end.