The CFBPSC (College Football Playoff Selection Committee) had an impossible task this weekend. Not in narrowing the selection down to four teams – that was as simple as getting a majority vote out of 12 panel members to decide which four to push through. The difficulty was getting us, the football-adoring public, to believe that they got the decision right. In fact that test wasn’t just hard, but impossible. Narrowing six obviously-deserving teams down to four just because that’s what the current playoff format says you have to do is proof enough that we need at least 8 teams, if not a full 16. FCS has been doing it for years, and we all know it would generate MASSIVE ratings and revenue. I’d even be okay with Bama and Oregon getting a first round bye, then playing the winners of OSU-Baylor and FSU-TCU. Any scenario that allows every deserving team a chance to compete is worth reform. Any system that excludes even one of said teams should be deemed unacceptable.
Better yet, expanded playoffs would help to avoid situations like this year, where Gary Patterson and Art Briles have to look their teams in the faces and tell them that they don’t get a chance to play for it all due to past conference re-alignment that was well beyond the control of any player or coach, or because their one-loss was harder for a committee to swallow than the OSU debacle against Virginia Tech. The Big-12 conference dropped the ball in not realizing how important a true conference championship would become under the current system, but the TEAMS have nothing to do with that. Baylor and TCU are no more or less deserving than Bama, OSU, FSU, or Oregon. I would have the same gripe if the Buckeyes were left out, or the Ducks. Playoff reform, we found out today, is hardly reform at all, it’s just a slightly better repeat of the arbitrary, accidental, indefensible “you and you, but not YOU” selection process that plagued the BCS era.
TCU and Baylor will play in the New Year’s bowl games, and when one or both win, their respective coaches will stand on a podium and say, “We deserved to compete for a National Championship.” And will we really be able to dismiss that argument? The playoff hopes to crown one “TRUE” champion. But if a deserving contender is never allowed the chance to fight for the belt, does it hold less weight?
One longshot silver lining that might come from this is the BIG-12 seeking expansion as to easily accommodate a championship game. BYU could be on the short list of teams they might add. But that doesn’t feel all that likely when you start to look at the details. Expansion might not even be necessary if Big-12 ADs decide to petition for a championship game for their 10-league. More bureaucratic details don’t mean much to fans who just want to see the best teams play.
And in that regard, the Committee did do their job. I can’t wait to see Oregon vs FSU, or Saban vs Meyer. The ensuing championship game will guarantee us two powerhouse teams matching up. Four of the best teams are in. It’s just a bummer that not ALL of the best teams are in playoffs.
I give it 2 years max before the system is expanded again. Better to include too many teams, and give an undeserving squad an extra game, than to exclude teams that should be there.
Featured Image courtesy of ..Russ..