ACC coaches favor playoff

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher (left) and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney

Atlantic Coast Conference coaches weighed in on the college football postseason format they would like to see this week at the ACC meetings in Amelia Island, Fla., a preference likely influenced by last year’s national title game that featured two teams from the same Southeastern Conference division playing for college football’s top prize.

Some ACC coaches said this week they favor a playoff format that includes conference champion status as a part of the criteria for entrance into a playoff field.

College football decision makers have indicated they will likely adopt a four-team playoff when the current BCS agreement expires after the 2013-14 season.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher f avors a format that rewards conference champions.

“There has to be some stipulation in there about champions,” Fisher told reporters. “Because not everybody plays the same schedule. We play a nine-game conference schedule. Other teams don’t. That’s weighed in. Some conferences have a conference championship game. Others don’t. Being a conference champion is no small task. Not only are you going through your conference, then you turn around and play a conference championship game. There has to be a lot of weight given to conference champions.”

Last season, Alabama did not win its own division, yet played LSU for the national title and won. That scenario seems to have accelerated a push for a playoff in college football as other power conferences try to increase their chances of having a representative play on the biggest stage, a stage that has been increasingly controlled by the SEC.

Boston College coach Frank Spaziani shared the same position as Fisher.

“I do know the conference champion does need to be involved,” Spaziani told ESPN. “A conference champion, certainly, in order to keep the season and the championship games relevant has to be involved in whatever the BCS comes up with.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has said he favors a four-team playoff that incorporates bowl games, but is not sure if he is on board with the conference championship requirement.

“I have seen different proposals that take the best four teams, or just conference champions, or one where you have to at least win your conference division championship to be eligible,” Swinney said. “I need to give that more thought and hear more specifics.”

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has made a playoff proposal that rewards conference champions.

Under his plan only the top four rated conference champions — presumably using a formula similar to the BCS points — would earn playoff berths unless they failed to reside in the top six of the points standings. In that scenario the highest-rated, non-conference champion would earn the berth.

Of course, if such a system existed over the last decade, the ACC would nearly have been shut out of the playoff.

From 2002-11, the 2007 Virginia Tech team would have been the only ACC representative in the playoff Delany proposes. Yet, it is a plan more and more ACC coaches seem willing to adopt even as television rights and prestige threaten to drop the ACC to a standing of fifth among power conferences in what could become a four-conference postseason game.