Oh man, put on your flamesuits ladies and gents because we all know how stirred up I get when playoff talk comes along.
For starters I don't think the Michigan/OSU example really applies here. Being the national champion means you're supposed to be better than everyone else. Only one of Michigan/OSU can be better than everyone else since each team is a part of "everyone else". Them playing in the last week is like a playoff in and of itself. I dunno, maybe I'm just used to it because I watch UF play FSU in the season finale for a dozen years where more than half the time the winner of the game was headed to the national championship game and the loser was headed home to watch a team that sometimes wasn't as good as them play for the title (and UF had to do it twice all those years because UT was always top 5 as well).
I think this applies less to a situation like that, and more to a situation like Tuberville mentioned where you have to play a top ten team every other week (seriously....look at UF's schedule). When you play five or six games against top 10 teams we're talking one bad game, one bad half, one bad quarter, one bad PLAY at any given time can wreck your entire season whereas a team like West Virginia (or a few other teams that I won't mention to hopefully dodge some flames
)could probably start their backups 10 weeks of the year and go undefeated. It's easy to have one huge game every year and go out there and get the job done, it's very difficult to have five or six of them.
Hskerpwer your point about the law of averages is taken, but I think you need to look at it not as SEC vs. weaker conferences but rather as dominant conference vs. other conferences. Sure, 10 years ago an SEC team didn't have a tougher time going undefeated than everyone else and who knows, maybe 10 years from now the SEC will be the patsy conference and the Big East will be the guys getting screwed over, but the point is that either way if there's a conference that has more top teams than the rest it puts the entire conference at a huge disadvantage. Not only do they have a tougher time going undefeated (and I don't think that right now, this year anyone could argue that if you took a top SEC team and a top team from another conference and traded spots that the former SEC team would have a better chance of going undefeated than they do now, and that the former other conference team would have a worse chance of going undefeated than they do now in the SEC), but they also look worse doing it as better teams and defenses only make you look worse when you play against them.
I mean, I look back to Florida in the 90's and it was a time where you could blindfold me for the season, and if you told me we beat Tennessee then I could pretty much tell you we were SEC champs. Tell me we beat Tennessee and FSU and I could pretty much tell you there was an 80-90% chance we were playing for a national championship. Sure, Auburn had some good years, LSU was ok as was Alabama, but after Tenn and FSU everyone else was a team we were expected to beat. You look at even a team like OSU who by all accounts has a tougher schedule than some of the undefeateds right now and you tell an OSU fan they beat Michigan at the start of the year and they can pretty much tell you they won the Big10. Tell them they beat Michigan and Texas and they can tell you they are probably playing for the National Championship. Sure, Iowa's ok, so is PSU, Minn can sneak up on you but really OSU doesn't have to play their best football to beat any of them handily. Compare that to some of the other undefeateds whose games are even EASIER and you start to get the point. WVU beats Louisville and everyone knows that's pretty much it.
But, take two games off Auburn's schedule, or two games off Florida's schedule, and you really are no closer to a NC than you were beforehand. Take 5 off and then maybe we're talking. OSU has to really play their best twice, West Virginia once, USC probably none (they only played a half against their toughest opponents last year and still cakewalked through most of the games), but with Auburn or Florida they have to play their best, mistake free, damn near perfect football they can possibly play four or five times just to GET to those games that they "should win".
CBL...we're not talking about 3+ teams in the top 20 here, we're talking 4 or 5+ in the top 10. Big difference.
Oh, and before we all go giving the Pac-10 reacharounds for scheduling an extra conference game let's keep in mind that they still don't have a championship game so in terms of how tough it is for the top teams they're still way behind. I'll take an extra game over Washington State over having to play Auburn or lsu (or whoever the top team from the other side is) AGAIN any day of the week. The other BCS conferences really need to get with the program on this one, and the conferences with that extra game need to be rewarded more for it.
So where am I going with all this? Hell if I know. Everyone here knows I've been anti-playoff for years because it cheapens the regular season (which is college football's greatest asset...the shear importance of every...single...game), but by the same token it's not really fair for the season to ride on every...single...game when some team's every...single (or near to it)...game are gimmie's and other team's are not. Also when the BCS nerfed SoS it really betrayed me. Why, why the hell would they do that? That was the whole POINT in the system.
More than anything I think they need to punish teams with weaker schedules. Hell for all I care make SoS the tiebreaker. It was ridiculous to me that people were all up in arms over USC in 2004 or whatever year it was. You have three teams, two of them played tough schedules (something like 6-8 ranked teams each) and one of them played a cakewalk schedule (1 or 2 ranked teams if I recall). If all three finish with the same record it should be easy to pick out the two teams that go to the championship regardless of how they looked along the way. One team was given a severe handicap and still couldn't get the job done...if someone giftwraps it for you and you still choke it away then that's too damned bad, see ya next year.
And I know this is going to come off as being biased because I'm an SEC guy and right now the SEC is "that conference" but I assure you all I would think this just as ludicrous if it were any other conference. Tuberville is right...right now any SEC school just has a huge, huge handicap going against them before the teams run out onto the field for week 1 whereas certain other conferences' best teams have a huge, huge handicap in their favor before they even run out onto the field for week 1, and even when the SEC returns to the mean (which it will) another conference will likely emerge with the same handicap in time.
Hell, we even use this in fantasy football in that one way we compare how two players will do down the stretch is what their schedules look like rather than strictly who is a better FF player. Same thing here, it's easy to say that USC or WVU have a better chance of playing for the national championship right now than Michigan, Auburn, or Florida whether or not we feel they're actually the better team.