5 Reasons The College Football Playoff Is A Disaster
It Does Not Include All The Conference Champions - There are four spots and five Power-5 conferences. We've seen the Big-12 pay a price for not having a title game and fans were willing to accept that they should have since they did not have that 13th 'data point'. The Big-12 will have that title game starting in 2017. The Pac-12 was left out last year, because its conference winner, Stanford, had two losses. Excluding a conference champion for two losses or penalizing a league for not having a title game is a tough sell since you cannot accurately know the strength of the conference. The committee is guessing at relative strength. Remember Ohio State was nearly out and the last team in in the first year of 2014 and then blew the playoff apart and roared to an easy championship. If the committee had taken Baylor then the eventual national champion in 2014 might well have not been the best team in the country.
It Does Not Guarantee The Four Best Teams - How could it? Way back in 1971 the old Big-8 was so strong that the final poll went Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado. Three of the eight teams ended the season 1-2-3 in the nation. What if two of the top four are from one conference, or heaven forbid three of the top four! There are seasons that you could surely argue for that. The committee likes to say that it does not want rematches and that conference titles serve as a 'play-in' of sorts and that's fine in this format but it also might not guarantee the four best. If the goal is the four best then rematches might well have to happen. Otherwise, it becomes the 'four best except for this other team that we don't want to see get re-matched against the other'.
It Is Power-5 Exclusive - In past post-seasons we have seen the Utahs and Boise States make statements about how good teams outside the so-called 'major' conferences can be. Could those teams have won a playoff? Well we don't know. And that's the problem, we don't know. The bar any team outside the Power-5 would have to hit to be considered for a spot is not just enormously high, it is almost impossibly high. A champion in even the top non-Power-5 league (the Mountain West) would not only need to be unbeaten and to have destroyed its league, but have at least 2-3 dominating wins over Power-5 teams in non-conference play - and, even then that might not be enough. The Power-5 will always exercise its authority over the selection committee.
It Has Destroyed The Other Major Bowls - Now this was true to a degree with the old 1-game championship format, but at least the Rose would get the traditional Big-10/Pac-12 champ if they did not make the title game. Now the Rose (unless it just so happens in a semifinal or title game) will almost never get that traditional match-up and that is a loss for the grand traditions of the game. Yes football is changing with the times and we can't worry that minor bowls become an afterthought but when the Rose or Orange or Sugar become a football version of the NIT that's a sad state of affairs. Saying you won the Rose Bowl but it wasn't a playoff game and no one outside your own fan base cares you won the Granddaddy? Again, that's a sad day for the game.
It Prevents A Real Playoff - A true playoff would be an 8-team affair and include all of the above. The five Power-5 champions with 3 at-large wild-card teams. A real playoff would need to have the top-4 seeds host the opening weekend (asking fans to travel to yet another bowl game would be a disaster since most would stay at home hoping their team advances beyond the first round). And that opening round, at the moment, would look something like this:
Western Michigan at Alabama
Washington at Ohio State
Michigan at Louisville
Clemson at Oklahoma
Yes, there would still be plenty of arguments about an 8-team playoff. Which at-large teams and who gets to host the home game (especially in the 4-5 battle) but it would, at least, allow every league to be in or have a legit shot to make it in.
As it stands now the current playoff cannot say that. Which leaves me with only one conclusion. The four-team playoff has to go.
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