Photo courtesy of tampabay.com | Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson celebrates the game-winning two-point conversion to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship, knocking off perennial powerhouse Alabama.
Another season of college football is right around the corner, and that means yet another season of the College Football (CFB) Playoff. Now entering its fourth campaign, the CFB Playoff is designed to expand the postseason field to four teams as opposed to the typical two. The question remains — is the new playoff system the answer? My answer is simple: No.
The selection process for the new system takes into consideration multiple factors that are designed to take a more analytical rather than a purely statistical approach. Some of the new criteria includes strength of schedule, conference championships, team records and head-to-head results, among other things, but this method of selecting teams for the playoff is imperfect. Ironically, the supposedly more logistical approach to the selection process is borderline illogical.
This system became problematic with the selection committee’s decision to name its top four teams last year. The teams selected last season for the College Football Playoff were Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Washington. One of these teams stands out from the others. That is the Ohio State Buckeyes. Yes, Ohio State had an incredible season by only losing one game, but unlike the rest of the teams listed here, they were not conference champions. In the eyes of the committee, though, the paramount measure for selecting teams is rooted in strength of schedule. Many teams have discovered this and, to no surprise, have started to piece together a tougher schedule. That is why of late, fans will see marquee matchups even in the first week of the season.
It would seem natural to simply select the four conference championship winners out of the Power 5 conferences as the playoff teams, right? The committee figured otherwise as they ultimately neglected to admit Penn State, who won the conference outright. As an avid college football fan, I feel that Penn State was snubbed, and for a miscalculated reason. Months have passed, and I still can’t fathom how the outright Big Ten champion wasn’t offered a spot in the playoff. Needless to say, it seems that the new selection system may have some kinks that need to be worked out.
There are two viable options to mend this problem in college football. The first would be to change the selection criteria to make it more rational. Instead of using strength of schedule as the supreme determining factor, maybe it’s best to use conference championships won with more weight. That way, teams that win a conference championship don’t get the boot like Penn State. Admittedly, this solution may cause complications because there would be five conference champions crowned for four playoff spots, that is, with the Big 12’s introduction of its own conference championship game.
What seems to be the more effective solution is to simply expand the playoff field. This would, in all likelihood, signal a condensed regular season, but with teams now having harder schedules, this may not be an issue. There have been calls to expand the playoff already, even though it seems highly unlikely that CFB officials will budge. Still though, it is nice to ponder the thought that perhaps one day, more than just the top four teams could vie for the coveted national championship.
My question to the committee is why not? The FCS, or the little brother to the FBS in Division I football already has a vast 24 team field to determine its champion, so why can’t the FBS do the same?
This probably has something to do with bowl games and the enormous revenue they bring in for CFB, but nonetheless, it is proven that an expanded playoff is possible. For the time being though, like it or not, college football fans are stuck with the four-team playof, and by the looks of it, change is not imminent.
By: Luke Feliciano ~Sports Editor~