Colleges still can’t get football right
College football has failed once again. After stumbling its way for decades in attempting to crown a national champion at the end of the season, it looked as if the sport had figured it out by creating the College Football Playoff four years ago. However, last weekend, it showed that it still has a way to go to create a quality system.
Three of the four representatives in this year’s playoff deserved their spots due to performances in conference championship games.
Defending champion Clemson won the ACC championship, Oklahoma won the Big 12 and Georgia won the SEC. Winning your conference would theoretically guarantee you a shot to win a national championship, but the committee that chooses the four teams decided that wasn’t entirely the case.
Instead of picking another team that won its title game, the committee went with Alabama despite there not being a legitimate reason for doing so, other than name recognition.
The Crimson Tide lost to archrival Auburn in the last weekend of the regular season and then had to watch the Tigers fall to Georgia in the SEC championship.
The common thought was that Alabama would be on the outside of the CFP after earning a spot the last three years, but in a surprise, the Tide “rolled” into that final spot.
There were quite a few teams that deserved a spot over ‘Bama with the most obvious being Ohio State. I know Michigan fans are probably enjoying the Buckeyes missing out, but this is still ridiculous.
OSU won the Big Ten and took down three ranked teams in Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. The excuse that analysts love to throw out was that OSU got blown out by Iowa.
So what? Alabama played an FCS team right before it lost to Auburn during the time when games are supposed to count the most and took advantage of a mediocre SEC. It also struggled against LSU and looked terrible at times against Mississippi State.
You could also make an argument that Wisconsin deserved a spot as it made it conference title game and had one loss just like ‘Bama.
USC also had a case for the fourth spot. The Trojans had two losses, yes, but they were both to ranked teams.
Even Central Florida had a better argument than the Tide. The Knights are the only undefeated team remaining and also won the Conference USA title. The case against UCF is that they aren’t from a Power Five conference.
Again, so what? They won all of their games. How are the Knights undeserving of a CFP spot if they pulled off something no other team accomplished?
There is a solution to this problem, but I’m sure there will be some resistance from the powers-to-be — just double the number of CFP teams to eight.
Four seemed nice at the time, but there are too many teams that can make the case to be in the top four. By expanding the playoff to eight, you eliminate that debate for the most part.
You include the Power Five champions and that leaves three other bids up for grabs. This allows a champion from one of the smaller conferences to get a shot, like C-USA, the Mountain West or the American, if they are undefeated or have a strong resume.
The other two spots could go to the conference championship games’ top two runners-up in the polls. This year, the playoff would include Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio State and USC as Power Five champs; UCF as the smaller conference representative; and Wisconsin and Alabama for finishing high enough in the polls.
Seeding the teams would be based on their records and how they finish in the polls with the games being played at the higher seeds. It’s not foolproof, but it’s a lot fairer than what the committee decided last week.
Unlike college basketball, there’s not an ultraefficient way to decide a football national champion. Yeah, there are minor arguments in the NCAA Tournament, but nowhere near as bad as football. By just adding four more teams and one extra week to the season, the NCAA could eliminate the debate as much as possible.
It took years for the people in charge to realize that an FBS playoff would be successful, but this change shouldn’t take that long. It makes things better for college football and it gets it done quickly.
No postseason format will ever be perfect in this sport, but an eight-team playoff gets us as close as we can get.
Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.