The new college football playoff system approved this week by a panel of university presidents has been greeted with almost universal approval from coaches, writers, and fans. Even those who point out the flaws have usually done so while acknowledging that this new system promises to be much better than the BCS system we've had to deal with for so long. Or is it?
First of all, teams won't have to run through anything close to the six-round gauntlet necessary to win a basketball championship, but that would never make sense. (Most expanded playoff models have called for an eight-team field.) This new system, which will begin in two years with the 2014 season, will keep the bowl system intact (money talks!) and slot the four best teams into two semi-final games on December 31st or January 1st, the sites of which will rotate amongst six different bowl games which are yet to be completely determined. The championship game will be up for bid on a year-by-year basis, just as the Super Bowl is.
It isn't yet clear how these top teams will be identified, but I think it's safe to assume that the Pac-12 champion will likely be one of the four. So here's the question -- what will the Stanford Cardinal look like in 2014?
First of all, there aren't too many people outside of David Shaw's office who know what the Cardinal will look like in two months, so it's a bit crazy to look ahead two years, but we're going to do it anyway. So here's GMC's projected depth chart for 2014:
Quarterback: Brett Nottingham, RS Sr.
Running backs: Kelsey Young, Sr.; Barry J. Sanders, Jr.; Remound Wright, Sr.
Wide receivers: Ty Montgomery, Sr.; Kodi Whitfield, Jr.; Francis Owusu, So.
Offensive line: Andrus Peat, Jr; Josh Garnett, Jr.; Kyle Murphy, Jr.; Nick Davidson, Jr.; Graham Shuler, Jr.
Defensive line: Aziz Shittu, Jr.; Jordan Watkins, Jr.; Luke Kaumatule, Jr.
Linebackers: AJ Tarpley, RS Sr.; James Vaughters, Sr.; Noor Davis, Jr.
Defensive backs: Wayne Lyons, RS Sr.; Alex Carter, Jr.; Zach Hoffpauir, Jr.
There are obviously a million things that can happen between now and then, but that isn't a bad group. Fueled by two of the best recruting classes in school history, this team could be a juggernaut ready to dominate the Pac-12 in 2014.
With the experience of a three-year starter at quarterback in Nottingham, a possible Heisman candidate in Sanders, and the best offensive line in the country, the offense promises to be dominant. Defensively, the front seven will have the strength to stifle the best running backs the Pac-12 has to offer, even if Vaughters has already made the leap to the NFL, and the defensive backfield will be skilled enough to do more than just keep up. All three levels of the defense could be at or near the top of the conference.
Assuming that the 2013 recruiting class continues the pattern and provides the necessary depth to fill in holes created by injury and early departures, the Cardinal could be good enough to win the Pac-12 and grab a spot in college football's first Final Four.
You heard it here first.