College football had a complete overhaul this past season. Out with the Bowl Championship Series and in with the College Football Playoff. The BCS created a lot of controversy during its 16-year existence, choosing only two teams to battle for a national championship when teams on the cusp had to swallow their pride and play in a consolation game. Over the years there were many teams deserving of at least a chance for a national title that did not get to play in the Super Bowl of college football.
Due to much backlash, the NCAA is now in a new era of playoffs, with a committee choosing four teams to play it out for the most coveted team award in collegiate athletics. However, there are still several flaws in the system (already in its first year!). Here are a few reasons why the CFP is already flawed, and some improvements it should make.
1. You can go undefeated and NOT be number 1?
Really experts? The one undefeated team in the College Football Playoffs and they are number three on the board? Yes, Florida State may not have been flashy this season behind a disappointing Jameis Winston, and not every game was a 42–0 blowout. BUT THEY WENT UNDEFEATED. 12–0. Zero losses for four months. It is hard to fault a team for doing their job and winning every single game of the season, pretty or not. Florida State challenged itself out of the conference too, playing teams like Oklahoma State and Notre Dame that were ranked in the top 25 when the matchup took place. And they did all this amidst an air of controversy and debate over their best player. Not to mention this is the reigning national champion that has not lost a game since Tim Tebow was relevant. Florida State should not be number 3, and maybe they will prove the committee wrong next month in the playoffs.
2. The Month-Long Wait
Nice segway into my next point here. This has been a personal dislike of mine for many years. Why pick the games to play and then wait a month until actually playing them? Rhetorical question: it's because of money and TV. The more money to be made, the more sports comply. But no other sport does this. Even during the BCS era, teams were selected in early December and did not play until the New Year came for many important bowl games. I know there are other bowl games that need to take place, but the playoffs wouldn’t have to compete with those games. They would always get the most media coverage, most fans and most hype for their games. It's what the fans want to see, the best teams play each other — not a 6–6 Virginia Tech team play in the Toilet Bowl or something pointless like that. Play the games when they are chosen, and don’t hold out for a month.
3. Four teams are not enough.
The last problem I mentioned is coupled with the heading above. If more teams were in the College Football Playoff, there wouldn’t be a month-long wait. But alas, there are only four team that do play in four weeks. This year, in its first year, four teams were selected, a solution thought to solve the woes of the BCS selection process. But even with the new installment, controversy was present. Two teams outside the top four rankings were also debated as to whether they should be in the race, and teams even below them have the ability to beat any team in the country (Ole Miss, Mississippi State). What’s worse is that TCU was ranked three the previous week, blew out an opponent in an impressive performance, and still did not make the cut. I’m not sure how that works out, especially with Ohio State running around with a third string quarterback. More teams, more fun is my motto. Let's work more on this in the coming years.
4. Clear Powerhouse Bias
“Ohio State has always been a football school, so they deserve it over TCU.” The committee chose to have Ohio State play in the playoff coming off a thrashing win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. While this is an important and impressive victory, did it deserve to jump past TCU, who was ranked two ahead of them the previous week? I don’t think so. But the committee chose them anyway. Ohio State brings the name, the legacy, and the tradition to the playoffs that TCU just does not have. They have the big stadium, the iconic blank helmet and NFL stars galore on their historic resume. But football is all about what you have done for me lately. Ohio State lost to a mediocre Virginia Tech team (HAHA) and also lost their starting quarterback to a season-ending injury. While this does not destroy their season, it does disable them from putting the best team possible out on the field. Compare this to TCU, with a healthy Heisman trophy capable quarterback, rolling over Big 12 opponents left and right. Their mere loss came to another deserving team, Baylor, who is also ranked in the top 10. Look between the lines on this one. With virtually identical records and stats, TCU put up a great case for the committee, but came up short to tradition and money.
As an avid fan of both college and professional football, I hope to see the playoff system improve in the coming years. How much fun would it be to watch 16 teams battle and grind out a champion over four weeks rather than four teams battle it out in two? Much more fun than waiting a month to see only four teams play. I’ll still watch, but with disappointment other teams that can win aren’t participating. It begs the question, if all this is really about money, wouldn’t they want more teams and more games and more publicity to make more money?