We know what it is. It’s politics. P-O-L-I-Tics. College Football when it comes down to it is about the blue bloods and the bigger fan bases, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s the fact that the NCAA thinks we’re dumb enough to think otherwise and tries to list off a whole myriad of reasons why they would reasonably drop 4th ranked TCU after a win last season in favor of Oklahoma. Or why Penn State may be on the outside looking in despite possibly being the B1G champion.
The NCAA can’t seem to get right no matter how they try. The BCS used a complex mathematical formula that seemed fair, but it only allowed two to get in, so when people started hollering for a playoff, one would think the NCAA would’ve simply kept the same formula and ushered in a 4 to 8 team playoff the following season.
Nope. This is the NCAA we’re talking about.
Instead, they created a committee to cobble together four teams based on a myriad of criteria that’s never really defined. They give preference to Conference Champions, except in the case of Ohio State, who is currently locked at a 2-seed despite the fact that they won’t win their division, let alone their conference. I’m not mad at Ohio State for that, heck, I’m not really even mad at the committee for that, I think they should have the opportunity to compete for the National Championship, but that’s where the 4-team playoff and committee as a whole bother me.
I’m not a Penn State fan, but what James Franklin has done is pretty remarkable. This program was hit with sanction after sanction from the fallout of one of the most disgusting scandals in the history of American athletics (Which Baylor has attempted to best…or worst, however you wanna look at it) and Franklin has gotten them back to a national level. Now they’re on the verge of a Big 10 title with no shot at a National Title to show for it. You can sit here all day and say “well, that’s still important! A Conference championship still holds a lot of meaning, that’s what it’s about!”
No it’s not. You want that National Title. That Golden Football. That Natty. Whatever you want to call it, what matters is that you played on that random Monday night in January and beat who you were up against. That’s what matters, no matter how you spin it.
That’s what seems to be the issue, the NCAA is locked at a crossroads between tradition, a new reality and money. Tradition says it should be an honor to make it to one of the classic New Year’s Six bowls, new reality says that most casual fans don’t care what you do outside of the playoffs, and money dictates who you need to put there. There’s already precedent for a College Football playoff, it takes place at the FCS, D2 and D3 levels. At the FCS level 10 of the 13 conferences receive auto-qualifiers into the conference (Ivy League opts out, MEAC and SWAC opt out for Celebration Bowl and a Conference Championship game respectively) and the remaining 14 participants are selected via an FCS Committee. Now this is probably where the idea of the College Football Playoff National Championship Committee was pulled from, but the reason the FCS version is met with less controversy is for two main reasons: conference champions are in automatically and the committee is picking 14 instead of 4.
Now by no means am I pushing for a 24-team playoff at the FBS level. That would be pure insanity and there are a plethora of reasons why neither the players, coaches or public would go for it, but that’s besides the point. The point is that if you win your conference at the FCS level, you get in, so why can’t the FBS level be the same?
Because you can’t guarantee that your money teams get in that way. NCAA wants Ohio State in, they want Clemson, that brings guaranteed eyes and revenue.
Well you could fix that by having your selection committee fill out the remainder of the brackets. If you go to an 8-team playoff this season, here’s what you would be looking at:
- Bama (Presumed SEC Champion)
- Washington (Presumed PAC12 Champion)
- Clemson (Presumed ACC Champion)
- Oklahoma/OK ST (Big12)
- Penn State/Wisconsin (B1G)
- At-Large (Ohio State?)
- At-Large (Michigan?)
- At-Large (Florida State/E Michigan)
“BUT SOME OF THOSE TEAMS ARE 2-3 LOSS TEAMS! WE CAN’T HAVE THAT?”
Why not? Why can’t we challenge the notion that a team that’s peppered in a loss shouldn’t have a shot? As we merge closer and closer to superconferences, it’s inevitable that teams like Alabama will be an anomaly, so why do we keep acting like perfection has to happen for a team to be considered championship material? USC is a 3-loss team, one of those was an ugly drubbing against Alabama. But these are kids who need repetition to get in rhythm, it’s natural that you’ll see a completely different team in August compared to November. That holds true in High School, College and the Professional level. This would also give opportunity to G5 schools who put together remarkable seasons. Why not give them a shot with the “big boys” if they’ve gone through their schedule unblemished? If we really are going to call it a National Championship, all 11 conferences should have a shot.
Speaking of which, it’s a load of crap that an Eastern Michigan would have to go undefeated for 3 or 4 years for anyone to consider them for the playoff, meanwhile Northwestern or Virginia could go undefeated in 2017 and could be a virtual lock because of their conference. The argument is strength of schedule, but how will you know one can’t hang unless they get their shot?
So since I’m bored, here’s a look at a 12, 14 or 16 team playoff with all 10 conference champs….
- Alabama (12-0) – SEC
- E. Mich (12-0) – MAC
- Clemson (11-1) – ACC
- Washington (11-1) – PAC12
- Penn State/Wisconsin (10-2) – B1G
- Oklahoma/OK St (10-2) – Big12
- Boise State (10-2) – MWC
- Navy (10-2) – AAC
- Western Kentucky (9-3) – CUSA
- Appalachian State (9-3) – Sun Belt
- Ohio State
Give 1 – 4 a bye,
Michigan @ PSU/UW
Ohio State @ Big12 Champ
App state @ Boise State
WKU @ Navy
Position second round by matching lowest with highest seeds.