The powers at be in college football have finally decided that some form of a 4-team playoff is the best way to determine a national champion. You can bet that this is a jealousy decision rather than a business one. That's because the SEC has won six straight national championships including last year's LSU vs. Alabama matchup which shut everyone else out. And the conference commissioners and college presidents don't think like businessmen, they are too foolish to see potential when it's right in front of them.
But, that jealousy has paved the way for them to see just how much they can make with a playoff. It doesn't really matter how they end up doing it....ESPN or whoever else buys it will be forking over a ton of money to cover it. So what does this have to do with Mississippi State? I'll get to that in a little bit...
The only people that don't know we're headed towards a 16-team playoff are the people creating this 4-team playoff. Once they see all the money to be made, they will surely want to double it. And then double it again.
Most schools aren't like Texas, Ohio State, Florida, Alabama, etc. Even at MSU, a SEC school, we don't rake in a ton of money. There are many many schools who find it difficult to maintain their athletic budget. Increasing the money flow via a playoff will be in high demand (it hasn't been because college presidents are tone deaf to profitable business decisions).
A bigger playoff will also be demanded by the fans even after the four team model is installed. The reason so many fans have been clamoring for a playoff ever since the BCS was introduced is because national TV, radio and internet. In 1975, the only thing you knew about west coast teams was what you read in the newspaper. But right now I could look up USC's roster, recruiting class, you tube videos with their coaches and players, watch them play on TV, etc. If I watch them all year and they go 10-2 but are #5, I am likely going to wonder how they would do in a playoff. There will be demand for more.
After the initial jubilation of a 4-team playoff rubs off, it will turn to 8, and then to 16. And that is where it really starts to benefit MSU and teams like us. By that I mean...well, you know what I mean. I don't think I'm going to make any enemies with this statement: Mississippi State stands a much better chance of winning a national championship if there were a 16-team playoff than a 4. Not that I even dream of winning a national championship - but at least there's a chance.
Personally, I think a 6-team playoff is the way to go. Have the top 2 conference champions get a bye and pick the other four from an at large pool and play it out. That would include a good number of legit teams and still maintain a high importance on conference championships, and in turn, the regular season. But I am a State fan first, so I'll support a 16 team playoff, even though I'm sure it will take 20 years.
While we wait for a 16-team playoff, however, it could get dicey for the Bulldogs. As we sit now with 14 teams in the SEC, or if we increase to 16 teams - winning the SEC West becomes a herculean task (with 7 or 8 teams). And if it's a 4-team playoff then winning the West - or at least very high second place - will almost certainly be called for. BUT, if the SEC expands to 16 teams and does four 4-team divisions, that would certainly benefit State. I actually wouldn't mind seeing that - four superconferences with 4-team divisions in essence creating a 16-team playoff with semifinals and championship games within the respective conferences.
Who knows, State may make a run at getting into a 4-team playoff once it is implemented. But I look for an 8-team and then 16-team eventually that will create a ton of excitement among all fanbases including Mississippi State's - and each year will have endless possibilities...