A Guide To The College Football Playoffs

A Guide To The College Football Playoffs

What our postseason destination means.
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The playoff. The Orange Bowl. Top 4 ranking. ACC bid. I'm sure you all have heard these terms before. Just like basketball season concludes with March Madness, the college football season has the New Year's Six games, included in which is the College Football Playoff.

The college football championship-awarding system has always been controversial but has evolved over the years. Until the 90s, there was no national title game. The champion was determined solely by polls, both at the Associated Press and from the sport's coaches. The only time a "national championship game" ever happened was if #1 and #2 in the polls coincidently meet in a bowl game, which did not happen very often. Also, if the two polls awarded the national title to separate schools, then the national title ended in a tie.

The Bowl Championship Series, better known as the BCS, formed in 1998 for the purpose of having an on-field national championship each year. But even that was not without controversy. One year Miami beat FSU and both teams finished with one loss with one spot left to play Oklahoma in the national title game. For some reason, even though the Canes beat the Noles on the field, Florida State got the spot.

Years of similar controversies and many people began becoming sick of the system. A new system was put in place which added something that gave college football something that each other major sport had prior: A playoff.

The College Football Playoff (CFP) is simple. Its committee picks what it believes are the four best teams and seeds them 1-4. Teams in major conferences who win their conference with one or fewer losses almost always get in, while it is extremely hard to overcome the second loss or not being the conference champion.

But teams outside the top four are not sent home empty-handed in the committee's eyes. The CFP runs six bowl games, the Rose Bowl, Fiesta, Cotton, Sugar, Peach and Orange Bowl. Two of those bowls host semi-final games in the playoff each year, on a rotating basis. This year, the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will be hosting the playoffs.

The other four games that make up the "New Year's six" this year are the Fiesta, Cotton, Peach and Orange Bowls. If you win your conference but miss the playoff, or are the 2nd best team in a conference that has a team in the playoffs, you go to your conference's New Year's six bowl. For the ACC it's the Orange, the SEC is the Sugar, the Big 12 is the Cotton, and the Pac-12 and Big 10 is the Rose.

If a conference's bowl happens to be a playoff bowl that year, that conference's representative team can shift to a different New Years six bowl. Leftover spots are filled with the elite conference runner-ups, and at least one team from a minor conference.

Cover Image Credit: @sec

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To The Coach Who Took Away My Confidence

You had me playing in fear.
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"The road to athletic greatness is not marked by perfection, but the ability to constantly overcome adversity and failure."

As a coach, you have a wide variety of players. You have your slow players, your fast players. You have the ones that are good at defense. You have the ones that are good at offense. You have the ones who would choose to drive and dish and you have the ones that would rather shoot the three. You have the people who set up the plays and you have the people who finish them. You are in charge of getting these types of players to work together and get the job done.

Sure, a coach can put together a pretty set of plays. A coach can scream their head off in a game and try and get their players motivated. A coach can make you run for punishment, or they can make you run to get more in shape. The most important role of a coach, however, is to make the players on their team better. To hopefully help them to reach their fullest potential. Players do make mistakes, but it is from those mistakes that you learn and grow.

To the coach the destroyed my confidence,

You wanted to win, and there was nothing wrong with that. I saw it in your eyes if I made a mistake, you were not too happy, which is normal for a coach. Turnovers happen. Players miss shots. Sometimes the girl you are defending gets past you. Sometimes your serve is not in bounds. Sometimes someone beats you in a race. Sometimes things happen. Players make mistakes. It is when you have players scared to move that more mistakes happen.

I came on to your team very confident in the way that I played the game. Confident, but not cocky. I knew my role on the team and I knew that there were things that I could improve on, but overall, I was an asset that could've been made into an extremely great player.

You paid attention to the weaknesses that I had as a player, and you let me know about them every time I stepped onto the court. You wanted to turn me into a player I was not. I am fast, so let me fly. You didn't want that. You wanted me to be slow. I knew my role wasn't to drain threes. My role on the team was to get steals. My role was to draw the defense and pass. You got mad when I drove instead of shot. You wanted me to walk instead of run. You wanted me to become a player that I simply wasn't. You took away my strengths and got mad at me when I wasn't always successful with my weaknesses.

You did a lot more than just take away my strengths and force me to focus on my weaknesses. You took away my love for the game. You took away the freedom of just playing and being confident. I went from being a player that would take risks. I went from being a player that was not afraid to fail. Suddenly, I turned into a player that questioned every single move that I made. I questioned everything that I did. Every practice and game was a battle between my heart and my head. My heart would tell me to go to for it. My heart before every game would tell me to just not listen and be the player that I used to be. Something in my head stopped me every time. I started wondering, "What if I mess up?" and that's when my confidence completely disappeared.

Because of you, I was afraid to fail.

You took away my freedom of playing a game that I once loved. You took away the relaxation of going out and playing hard. Instead, I played in fear. You took away me looking forward to go to my games. I was now scared of messing up. I was sad because I knew that I was not playing to my fullest potential. I felt as if I was going backward and instead of trying to help me, you seemed to just drag me down. I'd walk up to shoot, thinking in my head, "What happens if I miss?" I would have an open lane and know that you'd yell at me if I took it, so I just wouldn't do it.

SEE ALSO: The Coach That Killed My Passion

The fight to get my confidence back was a tough one. It was something I wish I never would've had to do. Instead of becoming the best player that I could've been, I now had to fight to become the player that I used to be. You took away my freedom of playing a game that I loved. You took away my good memories in a basketball uniform, which is something I can never get back. You can be the greatest athlete in the world, but without confidence, you won't go very far.

Cover Image Credit: Christina Silies

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Teammates Are Family

If you've ever been on a sports team, this one's for you.

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Practice. Games. Team bonding. Pasta nights. Lunch dates. Dinner dates. Hotel rooms. Different states. Different countries. Events. Fundraisers. Friendship. This all is a huge part of a team.

When you are on a sports team, you are committing to much more than just enjoying your hobby or talent with them. You are committing to a lifelong friendship that cannot be broken. A bond that cannot be explained. And many, many memories that stick forever.

Practicing 6 or 7 days a week for hours after school in elementary, middle, and high school adds up to so many memories. Even in college, the amount of time spent with the same people never gets old.

Practice makes some of the best times of your life. Laughing, crying, working hard, getting hurt, talking, encouraging, critiquing, it's all apart of the bond. Every day after school, each and every teammate would share their stories for the day. Each one of us would be with each other day in and day out, it became second nature.

Messing up in practice and pushing each other every single day taught us commitment, hard work, and teamwork. When you are with the same people every single day, you learn how to work well with them. Do arguments occur? Of course, but the bond between the team is unbreakable.

We are one.

When competition or game season comes into full effect, other things come into play. Traveling around the country or world with your team is definitely a huge asset to the concept of family. Sharing hotel rooms, having meals together, road trips are just a tiny piece of the memories.

During those trips, we made more memories than anyone could imagine. Your team gets to unite outside and inside of the sports aspect of it all. When competitions and games are in season, teammates learn the real definition of hard work and dedication. If your teammate messes up a routine, misses a goal, or strikes out at bat, you learn how to overcome the challenges faced and work together as a team.

Hard work. Failure. Commitment. Determination. Goals.

Your team becomes stronger with all of these qualities day in and day out. If you have the chance to become a part of a team, it will teach you many, many different things valuable for life.

As Michael Jordan says, "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships."

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