Have conference championships run their course?
Phil Savage believes they have.
The general manager of the Alliance’s Arizona Hot Shots, and former analyst for the Crimson Tide Sports Network, joined me and Lee Shirvanian to discuss the trending topics of the past two weeks: Hugh Freeze and an eight-team playoff.
It didn’t come as a shock to Savage.
“It wasn’t a surprise by any stretch,” he said.
“The feeling, honestly, was the Hot Shots could ward off a coordinator job because he was going to be a play-caller here. He was going to be doing it in a different venue than the familiarity that he has with the college world.
“The one thing we didn’t think we could beat was a head coaching job. When the Liberty job came on the radar that was the one that could be a real possibility because that was the school – and the group of people – that had reached out to Hugh and his wife last fall to come and speak to the student body.”
Savage hasn’t decided what to do about the Hot Shots’ coordinator position. He said coach Rick Neuheisel could call the plays, or they could being somebody in.
Speaking of uncertainty, this week’s topic du jour is an eight-team college football playoff.
Savage is a proponent of the move, much like analyst Danny Kanell was earlier this week.
“As intriguing as four is, you have five power conferences. It creates controversy. It creates interest. Someone is going to be left out,” he explained. “One of the flies in the ointment is Notre Dame went undefeated this year, so that eliminated a Power 5. Plus, if Georgia had pulled off the upset and beat Alabama, you would have had three Power 5 conferences left out. That’s not what these presidents, ADs and conference commissioners signed up for.”
He suggests five Power 5 teams, two at-large teams and one Group of 5 team.
“It would be a lot cleaner. It would make it easier for the committee to choose the teams,” he said.
Savage said have the first round the weekend of the conference title games at on-campus sites.
“I think the conference title game is a thing of the past,” Savage said. “I think it is obsolete. We’ve seen conference champions get left out as we did this year with Ohio State and Washington. We’ve seen non-conference champions go on and win the national championship like Alabama did last year.”
Of course, at that point, the domino effect is in play. Savage said no more conference title games and no more cupcakes.
“Eliminate the 11th game,” he said. “The cupcake the SEC and the ACC conferences are playing right now. There is no need for it.”
In fact, he said schedule a cupcake for a program’s spring game “so a smaller school can get a payoff.”
“Much like Alabama in a rematch against LSU in 2011 was part of the reason to move away from a two-team BCS system to a four teams in a playoff,” he said, “this season has pushed the ball forward to going toward an eight-team field. It makes more sense.”
Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.