The holidays bring fun with the family. Sports-wise it also brings excitement to football and basketball fans. It will come down to who will be in the college playoffs after this weekend’s conference championship games.

The start of college basketball gives round ball fans a sneak peek at which teams to watch during the season heading into March Madness. The NFL is coming down to real time with only five regular season games left. Every play counts in crush time. If you throw in hockey too, it will difficult to be bored on cold winter nights around the fireplace.

Even the NBA is starting to decide which teams are for real come playoff time. Taking it one step at a time though, college football for the first time, is faced with the dilemma of not having at least two clearcut teams as participants in the College Football Playoffs. This weekend will determine who gets a shot at the ring. Going into the week the top four teams will last for only three days because Saturday games will decide the outcome.

At least eight teams have a chance to make it to the playoffs. If Oklahoma beats TCU in the Big 12 Championship game, they are in. If Wisconsin beats Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game, they are in. If Clemson beats Miami in the ACC Championship game, they are in. The SEC Championship game has a little more drama. If Auburn beats Georgia again they should be in even with two losses. Georgia should be in without question if they get revenge over Auburn after the Tigers destroyed the Bulldogs three weeks ago.

The spoiler could be if a couple of underdog teams are able to pull off upsets. If Ohio State wins and gets in with two losses the present system will be questioned. Ohio State was beaten badly early in the season by Oklahoma and then were destroyed later in the year at Iowa. Wisconsin goes into the Big Ten Championship as the most disrespected team in the country. The Badgers are undefeated, but the team’s weak regular season schedule leaves them suspect.

Miami laid a huge egg when they lost their last regular season game against Pittsburgh. Clemson should be a shoo-in if they beat Miami because their early loss to Syracuse was at a time when they were experiencing multiple QB injuries.

Oklahoma has already beaten TCU in the regular season and TCU has another loss from Iowa State. If TCU wins they will still be hard pressed to make it to the final-four format. One thing for sure – Oklahoma has the best offense in the country and they will probably have the Heisman Trophy winner in Baker Mayfield (if he does not make obscene gestures again during the Big 12 Championship game). Do not take anything for granted.

The SEC is in a very interesting situation. The committee has some tough choices after Auburn beat Alabama in the last regular season game. Alabama has been No. 1 or 2 in the polls the entire 2017 season. Most football people will tell you that Alabama is one of the top four teams in the country even after their loss to Auburn in the last regular game of the year.

Auburn appears to be playing the best football overall. If they win they are one of the top four teams in the country. However, their top two running backs may be injured and not play in the SEC Championship game. If Georgia wins the SEC Championship game, they are in. Notre Dame is still in the conversation, but they do not play for a conference championship. The Pac-12 needs a hope and a prayer for one of their schools to make the final-four format, but the way this year is going anything can happen.

Since this season resulted is ending so unpredictably perhaps it gives rise to an eight-team playoff system that would allow teams to play it out for a national championship. The selection committee may have more input about who will win the national championship this year than the teams themselves. The winners of other national championships have played their way to the top on the field.

They do not need a bunch of administrators and computers to determine the best team in the country. Money will never let the NCAA even begin to think about a true Division I playoff system. My pick is Clemson to win back-to-back national championships (that is if the committee allows them into the big dance).

• The MU football team needs to thank Drew Lock for leading the team to a 7-4 season and a bowl bid. The guy has put the Tigers on his back and carried them through 2017. He is a great young man who comes from a great family. It is nice to see a local Lee’s Summit kid have success. Barry Odom will always be grateful for Lock saving his job.

• Speaking of MU – it is a tough break for the Missouri basketball program to lose Michael Porter Jr. The team still can improve a lot from the last two dreadful seasons with the players on this year’s squad. Hopefully it will be a positive year for Coach Cuonzo Martin to build on in the future.

• My quote of the week comes from Howard Cosell: “Stand for something. Don’t quest for popularity at the expense of morality and ethics and honesty. Daniel Webster taught this country that what is popular is not always right, and that what is right is not always popular.”

– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.