...Mark Sanchez, seeing how close he came to a national championship, elects to come back to USC for another season.
Think of how acrimonious his real-life decision to jump to the NFL was, how it caused a split with his coach and maybe even his father.
Now suppose that, rather than being the top of the heap, about as high as his career could go with the risk of injury being the main thing looming, the Rose Bowl put him in a real national championship game. And put Sanchez within one game of becoming the true champion of college football... and he lost (and had a mediocre performance that would hurt his standing with NFL scouts).
Don't you think he would be a little more tempted to come back and get over that last hump? Even once Tim Tebow announces he's coming back as well, it's unlikely to change his decision; he wants to get a rematch in next year's Golden Bowl where he thinks the Trojans can come out on top this time. After all, this year's Golden Bowl was in Florida's home state; next year's will be a virtual home game at the Rose Bowl.
I'm going to simulate next year's Golden Bowl Tournament based on the actual results of that season's games, not based on some alternate universe where Sanchez still plays at USC. But this sort of thing is the sort of impact instituting a playoff would have on college football - real, substantive effects that change the course of college football history. And Whatifsports.com doesn't even simulate injuries (because it's intended to simulate one-game exhibitions).
Keep that in mind while you're debating the merits of a playoff.
Yes, the college football rankings and lineal title are coming! Hold your horses!