It's no pipe dream, the Mountain West Conference could place a team in the College Football Playoff system within four years with good planning and a bit of luck. It's true, all the stars must be aligned perfectly for it to happen, but it can and the Conference should place its resources on that path.
Remember the 2007 season when a two-loss LSU team defeated an overmatched Ohio State squad for the title? That year six out of the eight teams that participated in the four Bowl Championship Series (Roe, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar) games had at least two losses.
If college football had a playoff system back in 2007, it would not be out of the realm of possibility to have seen an undefeated MWC team, let's say Boise State, make the ‘Final Four' cut.
The blue print for a playoff berth is relative simple to develop but hard to follow to it ultimate completion. First, one of the Conference's top tier teams needs to have a once -in-a-decade recruiting class, with emphasis on big and agile offensive and defensive linemen and an above average pocket passer. Then, that team should place all of its resources in trying to nourish that class for the full four years. Because of the talent gap between the MWC and the Power Five conferences, it's imperative that ‘the team' should have a strong and experience senior class to make it competitive.
Then come scheduling. For example, Boise's success in reaching several BCS games rested on it's allege strength of schedule. The Broncos usually played a top tier Power Five opponent early in the season in order to receive a boost with the win; remember Oregon and Georgia?
The MWC team that aims for a berth in the playoffs will need that boost. So, in year one of the recruiting class, ‘the school' must schedule a bigtime opponent in early September of the fourth year. Here's where most of the planning come into play.
The scheduled team have to come off a high season and must be perceive as entering s sort of ‘back-to-reality' year, that way the experience MWC team could take advantage of rebuilding effort. Beside this game, the school needs to play another boost game, most likely against a middling Power Five team from the south, voters tend to overestimate wins against SEC and ACC opponents.
Another thing is attendance. Every home game need to be a sold out, or very close to it. That will give the perception that the team have a strong fan base that could travel.
If all pieces fall into place, by the time November comes around this MWC team should be in the Top 10, armed with an unblemished record and a reputation of party crashers.
Now all we need is luck. A bad year in the Big Ten, a rebuilding season in the ACC and the usual slaughter in the SEC. Most importantly, we need a really down year in the BIG 12, that way voters and committee members would have an ‘excuse' to look outside the box. What about the PAC 12 you say? In this scenario, we don't care what happen there as long as the other stars align.
There's a caveat to all of this. The MWC that wants to be a player in the system must launch, by the middle of October, a public relation blitzkrieg stating its case for a berth. Get the Nation's sympathy behind the effort. They must make the team ‘America's Darling'. Crank up the PR pressure in November and put one of its players in the Heisman discussion.
All of these could happen and the Conference should encourage it.