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Playoffs? Actual playoffs? Major college football should consider it, Washington State’s Mike Leach says

If it was up to Washington State coach Mike Leach, there’d be a 64-team FBS playoff in place. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
If it was up to Washington State coach Mike Leach, there’d be a 64-team FBS playoff in place. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Washington State may still be on the outside looking in when it comes to the College Football Playoff, but even in the way-too-early projections, the Cougars are if nothing else a part of the conversation – certainly an upgrade from where they’ve been in the past and a big-time honor even if players and coaches insist they’re only concerned about the next game.

Coincidentally, it was one day after the Associated Press removed the cover from its weekly Top 25 rankings, which had the Cougars in the top-10 for the first time since 2003, that WSU coach Mike Leach dedicated a 10-minute spiel to the College Football Playoff, sharing why he believes the system needs some sweeping changes.

But Leach talks at length about this very topic at least once a year, so the sixth-year Cougars coach presumably didn’t plan for his annual address to take place during Monday’s news conference – less than 30 hours removed from WSU checking in at No. 8 in the AP Top 25 poll. Still, it was as good a time as any.

And Leach hit some new personal records during Monday’s tangent. From beginning to end, it lasted about 600 seconds, encompassed more than 1,400 words and ate up at least one full inning of the Nationals-Cubs Divisional Series game happening simultaneously.

The video can be found below and one brave writer typed out the whole thing out, so we’ll just outline the nuts and bolts of Leach’s sililoquy and summarize his grand plan for an expanded playoff.

Give him 16, 32 or 64 teams … just don’t give him 4

Remember when you were a child and asked your parents for 20 bucks, hoping you’d at least be able to squeeze out 10?

Leach’s proposal is a 64-team playoff, “but I think the minimum is 16,” he said. “If you have 16 teams, we can settle a lot of these issues.”

Leach isn’t necessarily mad for March Madness and the WSU boss may have ruffled the feathers of hoops fans in Spokane when he mispronounced “Gon-ZAH-ga,” instead uttering “Gon-ZOH-ga.” But Leach does believe college basketball has it right with a team bracket.

That would be an awful lot of games, wouldn’t it?

Theoretically, if teams were playing 12-game schedules like they are now, yes. A potential champion would play 12 in the regular season and six more in the playoffs. But Leach suggests cutting two regular season games, meaning the champ would only play 16.

“Halfway between the 10 regular season games, say between Week 5 or 6, half the country is off, half the country is playing,” he said. “Then the other half is off, and half the country is playing. You have a built-in break.”

Teams would have 12 guaranteed games for monetary purposes and the ones left out of the playoff would play one another, “So it’s like somebody, say, on the West Coast plays somebody way on the East Coast so we could sort out all this East Coast bias stuff we’re talking about,” Leach said. “Maybe that team could get to the bottom of it and we would all be rich by what they discovered.”

But the Leach Football Playoff would only pit regional opponents against each another in the early stages. “Depending how the season goes – maybe Oregon vs. Utah State,” he threw out.

But don’t eliminate our bowl games!

Leach isn’t leaving the bowls out to dry – in fact, they’d have a pivotal role in all of this. In the current system, approximately 32 bowls are played, so the bowls would select from the Round of 64 winners.

“The bowls know how to put on big games,” Leach explained. “… I do think there should be some more northern locations as we sort this out.”

Yeah, but who’s still watching in December?

Viewership wouldn’t be an issue here, according to Leach. The WSU coach insists ratings would actually soar, much like they do in March when the country’s premier basketball teams are playing knockout games almost every day a span of two weeks.

That would even grab the attention of Leach’s spouse, Sharon.

“I mean, my wife would watch them,” Leach said. “I go home after a hard day’s work and there’s something on, on a Thursday. You want to know where the sandwich stuff is and where the grocery stuff is, well you can’t because she’s watching a game, I mean there’s a game on, on Thursday, somebody in the MAC is playing on Thursday. And oh my gosh, are they going to score or are they going to stop them? I don’t know, but I know this – I’m not going to be able to sort out where the groceries are anytime soon on that because I don’t go in the kitchen that much, so I’m just pulling cupboard doors open.”

Everyone else is already doing it…

Instituting a true playoff system would revolutionize major college football – be it 16, 32 or 64 teams – but Leach will be the first to note he isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel here.

At the high school level? “They win a certain number of games, there’s some minimum qualifications, and then, boom now they’re in a playoff,” Leach said. “But they don’t just have four teams in a playoff, hell no.”

How about NCAA Division III? “Oh, they do it the exact same way,” he said. What about Division II? “They do it exactly – exactly, boys and girls – like Division III does.” And FCS? “That’s getting really close to us and we’re real sophisticated because we’re major I-A,” Leach said. “How do they do it in I-AA? You know what, they have a playoff format, and they figure it out.”

And if that’s too small of a scale to measure up against?

“What about above us? The NFL?” Leach said. “And that just makes you feel good to roll those initials off your tongue. It’s like Huckleberry Finn said, ‘some days I just have to swear to get a good taste in my mouth.’

“They have one battle after the next and at the end they sort out a champion, it’s called the Super Bowl. There’s not interest diminished because people are captivated by the playoff. And the biggest sporting event every year in the history of the world is the Super Bowl.”

Until next year’s rant…

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