Blog Archive

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Only Solution is an Expanded Playoff:

Georgia and Alabama won their games and proved the SEC belonged in the final.  I have no complaints with their selection in the top 4.  It would have been absurd, likewise, to exclude Oklahoma or Clemson based on their records from the playoff.  And yet I still feel like a lot of teams were unjustly left out of a chance at the title.

After the Big 10 went 7-1 in the bowl games, it's time to rethink how strong that conference really was.  They completely dominated opponents that were supposed to be their match.  Ohio State destroyed USC.  Penn State dominated Washington.  Michigan State made mincemeat of Washington State.  Wisconsin crushed Miami.  Iowa, Northwestern and Purdue beat quality opponents too.

In retrospect, not only should Ohio State have been in the playoffs, Penn State and Wisconsin had a good argument to be there too.  The Big 10 was just that good this year, and no one even noticed until it was too late.

Then there's Central Florida.  13-0.  Undefeated.  The only undefeated team in college football.  They beat Auburn, who beat both Georgia and Alabama, who are currently playing each other for the title match.  Well how much sense does that make?  If Central Florida is better than Auburn, and Auburn is better than Alabama and Georgia, then doesn't that make Central Florida, who has never lost to anybody, the best team in the country?  Just mathematically?  How on Earth can they not even be allowed a chance to play for the title?

TCU lost, twice, to Oklahoma, who lost to Georgia, so we know they don't belong in the conversation, despite their nice win over Stanford.  But that's four additional teams that have proven on the field that they belong among the best.  They weren't even given an opportunity to test themselves against Alabama or Georgia, so we'll never know what could have been.

If the playoffs had been extended to 8 teams -- the champion of each power-5 conference, the best group of 5 team and two elite wild card selections who can come from anywhere, none of these problems would have happened.  Central Florida would be #1 if they went undefeated, you wouldn't need to attach an eternal question mark to their record.  Ohio State and Wisconsin could have been forgiven their minor bloopers in the regular season and been allowed to show off the excellence the Big 10 just showed off this bowl season one more time.  USC would have been clobbered just like it was by Ohio State in the Cotton bowl, but these three other inclusions would have been just as worthy as Alabama's was, and Alabama is favored to win it all, so obviously Alabama was also a good selection.

These debates are never going to end because 130 teams simply cannot be fairly narrowed down to 4 in just 13 games.  We need more data points and the only way to get that data is to expand the playoffs so everyone who seems remotely qualified is given a shot.

It's an absolute shame that Wisconsin, 13-1, wasn't considered good enough to reach the playoffs.  Or 11-2 Ohio State, the Big 10 champions.  It just makes no sense.  Penn State played brilliantly against Washington and you could tell they were talented enough to take on anybody.  And finally Central Florida, by beating Auburn, showed the group of 5 always deserves at least one spot at the table, so that little colleges are never discriminated against again.

Two years ago it was absurd that Baylor and TCU weren't in the playoffs, each having only one loss.  Last year we luckily only had four qualified teams so everything went smoothly.  But this time we genuinely had four more teams that should have been in the playoffs but weren't.  This is just unacceptably erroneous.  It's almost random who gets to be the champion at this point.  How is this any better than the old BCS system?

Every other division of football, from the FCS to the NFL, all uses a larger playoff than just four teams.  It's time for the FBS system to get with the times.

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