When the NCAA implemented the Division I FBS college football playoff system, the hope was to avoid the controversy at the end of the season as to which teams play where.
The abolishment of the BCS brought hope to many college football fans across the nation that teams may finally get a fair shot to play for the national championship. The truth is, there is no good system, and this season is proving that.
The new college football playoff system grants four teams the opportunity at a shot for the national championship.
The top four teams at the end of the year will play in a semi-final game, with the winners squaring off for the ultimate goal, a national championship. The question becomes, how are those top four teams decided?
At years end, a selection committee will choose the four fortunate teams based on strength of schedule, head-to-head results, and other factors.
The college football season is only in its eighth week, and already there are only five unbeaten teams. In week six of the season, four teams in the top six went down, and six in the top ten.
Try putting yourself in the selection committee’s shoes–who would you have in the playoff?
It is not as easy a question as it sounds, and as the weeks go on, the question is only going to get more difficult.
Instead of arguing who will be the last team in the BCS Championship this year, many will argue who should be the third and fourth teams in the playoffs.
By year’s end, due to certain teams playing each other, there will be no more than three unbeaten teams. So, even assuming you put the three undefeated teams in the playoff, who’s the fourth?
Also, do you punish a team like Ole Miss who might lose their last game of the season against number one ranked Mississippi State, in favor of a possibly undefeated Notre Dame team who plays a much softer schedule?
Is this Notre Dame’s fault? If all this sounds familiar, it’s because it is.
These are the same questions we have been asking ourselves for years. So let me ask you, has this playoff system resolved anything?
We will have to let the season play out before we make a decision. I am more than happy just sitting back and watching all the madness happen.
However, as fellow writer Marshall Hastings and I have discussed, an eight-team playoff system may be on the horizon soon.
The NCAA just cannot have a playoff system of more than eight teams, because there is not enough time in the schedule. An eight-team playoff would add three extra weeks, meaning you could eliminate one essentially meaningless out of conference game in September, and start the playoff when the teams usually break for December.
The eight teams would include the winners of the five power conferences, and three at-large teams based on the current formula the NCAA has for choosing teams under the new format.
Of course, we will almost definitely end up with the same questions under this proposed system as well. Which three teams will be chosen at large, and why?
The way I see it, the best team in the country has won the national championship almost every year under the BCS format, and that will probably remain the case.
There is no perfect system, but it usually works out. If I were to give any advice to college football fans, it is to stop worrying about the playoff system and let the teams play it out.
Enjoy the madness.
Billy Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org