A Guide To The College Football Playoffs

A Guide To The College Football Playoffs

What our postseason destination means.

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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5 People You Didn't Know Went to Cal Poly Pomona

Bronco Alumni who made it BIG

1. Jim Zorn

Jim Zorn first went to Cerritos College and transferred to CPP where he played football for 2 seasons. While he was attending CPP, he set 44 school records and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1997. Since then he has played with the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After his retirement, he moved onto coaching in the NFL where he has been for 16 seasons. He is currently a quarterback coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.

2. Forest Whittaker

Whittaker attended Cal Poly Pomona on a football scholarship (yes, we had a football team), but an injury left him unable to play. He changed his major to music where he was a part of the Cal Poly Chamber Singers. He ended up transferring to University of Southern California to finish up his degree, but got his start at CPP. He is now a famous actor who stared in Platoon, Bird, The Shield, The Color Money, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, and many more productions. He was also the 4th African American male to win Best Actor at the Academy Awards.

3. Hilda Solis

Solis was accepted into the Equal Opportunity Program at Cal Poly Pomona and graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. While getting her Master of Public Administration at USC, she worked for the Carter and Reagan administration. Under the Obama administration, Solis became the first Latina to serve in the US Cabinet. Currently she serves on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

4. Kevin Lyman

Lyman became well known by creating Vans Warped Tour, but before this he graduated Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Recreation Administration in 1984. He discovered his love of music while in college and worked with on campus bands to find places to play. He took his love to the LA music scene which led to the creation of Vans Warped Tour, Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, and Down From the Mountain Tour.

5. Michael Steger

Steger graduated CPP with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a minor in Spanish. After graduating with honors, he went on to appear in NCIS, Criminal Minds, Covert Affairs, True Blood, and several Disney Channel productions. He is best known for his role as Navid Shirazi on 90210.

Cover Image Credit: Hahn-Khayat-Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

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The Penguins' Window Is Closing

A wrap up of the Penguins' Playoff Defeat and where it all went wrong

After taking an extensive period of time to recover following the Pittsburgh Penguins’ loss to the Washington Capitals in the second round of the NHL Playoffs, I have taken the time to dissect what went wrong with this team. Many fans have taken the optimistic view of the season because of the great success the team has had over the past decade, but they fail to realize that the window on this team is closing faster than they may realize.

Losing to the Washington Capitals was not just the product of this season being the Capitals’ year. It has been the Caps’ year for the last several years, but each time, Washington fans get excited for the playoffs only to watch the Caps run into the impenetrable black and gold wall. The Penguins have consistently outmatched the Capitals. They have had their number for years and Sidney Crosby proves time and time again that he is able to match and outdo his counterpart Alex Ovechkin. (Counterpart really does not do the true comparison justice because Sid brings so much more to the game than Ovechkin.) The Penguins have always been able to overcome adversity and rise above teams like the Flyers who loved to throw the Penguins off their game and rough them up a bit. The Pens have never let that kind of play affect their mentality. This year however, Tom Wilson of the Capitals was able to completely derail the Penguins with his nasty cheapshots on Brian Dumoulin and Zach Aston-Reese. It was very evident how how distracting his presence was on the ice for the team. The NHL shares a lot of the blame for not suspending Wilson after his first incident in Game 2. The NHL’s failure to get out in front of the situation after Wilson’s hit on Dumoulin led to the demise of Zach Aston- Reese who suffered a broken jaw and a concussion at the hands of Washington’s bruising winger. In both games when Wilson injured a Penguins player, they went on to lose. The officials on the ice and in Toronto repeatedly failed to protect the Penguins’ players and it took a serious toll on their ability to win the series.

Washington advancing past the Penguins is also the result of a number of poor decisions made by General Manager Jim Rutherford over the last calendar year. Despite glaring deficiencies, Rutherford failed to fill the huge holes in Penguins’ defense and even created new ones. Jeff Schultz, Brian Dumoulin and Ian Cole were the Pens’ best defensemen in 2017 while Kris Letang was sidelined for a large chuck of the season with a serious injury. Pittsburgh showed great weakness on the back line during the Stanley Cup playoffs a year ago. The Penguins still managed to win the Stanley Cup with offensive talent and willpower. After the departure of Trevor Daley, Mark Streit and Ron Hainsey in the offseason, Rutherford decided to plug the holes they left with Matt Hunwick, Chad Ruhwedel and occasionally Frank Corrado. Unsurprisingly, only on of those players even managed consistent playing time during the 2018 Playoffs. At the trading deadline, Rutherford was forced to patch another leak that he himself created by sending Ian Cole to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of a multi-team deal for Derick Brassard. Brassard was needed to fill the space left by the Penguins’ bottom two centers, Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen, leaving in the offseason uncontested. Bonino especially was an essential part of the Pittsburgh identity and came up big more than once during the Stanley Cup runs. The departure of Ian Cole meant that Kris Letang and Olli Maata were given a lot more responsibility, which they both proved that they could not handle. Derick Brassard seemed to disappear in the playoffs which made Rutherford look even worse for the deal. The Penguins were also very sloppy in the playoffs this year.

Bad turnovers were a constant problem for the Penguins most notably by Kris Letang who got caught behind the opposing goal a few times while the Caps were on the counter attack. Matt Murray was hung out to dry on numerous occasions resulting from a turnover by a defensemen who could not recover. This ended multiple games against the Capitals. However, poor goaltending before the last second turnovers kept the Capitals in most games and even took the Penguins out of others when Matt Murray consistently let in “soft” goals that you cannot afford to give up. Murray posted a very low 9.08 save percentage and a 2.43 Goals Against Average in the playoffs which were much worse than his career averages. This was his first playoff series without Marc-Andre Fleury to carry the team most of the way through so that he could take over and be handed all the credit by the peripheral Pittsburgh fans. Murray’s deficient glove hand and lacking vision have plagued the Penguins since his arrival in the NHL in 2016. He was not able to steal games for the Pens the way Pekka Rinne can for the Nashville Predators, Braden Holtby did for the Caps or Marc-Andre Fleury has for the Vegas Golden Knights. The Penguins handed him the keys to the franchise before he had truly proven himself over the course of a full season in the NHL. The move to make Matt Murray the starting goaltender may cost the Penguins for years to come as Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith failed to live up to their hype from Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton.

Sloppy play on the back end really hurt the production offensively and cost the Penguins a series and another year. As Penguins radio play-by-play announcer Mike Lange loves to say, the turkey was on the table for the Penguins. On any given night, they are the most talented team in the league and they squandered another chance to win the Stanley Cup. This current window with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin is quickly closing. Both are now in the thirties and cannot have much time left in their primes. Sid is no longer the kid anymore. Realistically we can only expect a few more productive years from the Two-headed Monster. Complacency with the hardware the Penguins have won over the last decade is a worrying trend among the Pittsburgh faithful. You cannot win the Stanley Cup every year. It is the hardest trophy to win in sports considering all the obstacles that teams face over the grueling playoff format. However, the Penguins have the talent to win and have already squandered enough years of Sid and Geno’s careers from 2010- 2015 with embarrassing playoff losses and injuries. The Penguins needed to strike while the iron was hot. It is unlikely that the city and even the league will ever see a talent like Sidney Crosby play with another talented player like Malkin. Not since Jagr and Mario Lemieux, had the Penguins had such a fearsome number one and two guy. Who knows if the Penguins will ever have this sort of luck again? Complacency with letting the Capitals by this year will only serve to worsen the blow if the Penguins fail to reach the Stanley Cup again during the Malkin-Crosby era. Poor mental fortitude coupled with bad officiating, sloppy defense and goal tending, and poor choices by the general manager cost this team an unprecedented third consecutive championship in the modern era of hockey. This year, the Cup was well within reach and the Penguins let it escape them. This team will need some restructuring during the off season to regain its former glory and fully capitalize on the last few years of a truly essential era in Pittsburgh sports history.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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