Lang's World: Why the College Football Playoff needs to change
The best thing about this year’s College Football Playoff is that it has proven plainly that the College Football Playoff needs to change. At least, if you want to have some fun.
For so many years, the college football champ was crowned via consensus, while the belief was nearly unanimous among college football fans that some sort of playoff system was needed. Instead of having a bunch of writers and coaches vote on which team was best, why not let the teams actually play against each other and figure out who’s best by playing head to head? College football is a competition, right? Why can’t they compete for the title?
And then a committee got involved.
Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) celebrates with Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Raekwon Davis (99) and fans after the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on January 1, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.
Now if you didn’t know, committees are what behemoth corporations use when confronted with an issue for which they don’t have an answer. Because with a committee, you can get a whole bunch of voices in a room and throw a lot of opinions into the air and obfuscate the real issue in the name of getting something done. A camel is a horse by committee. The College Football Playoff that we have right now is a playoff by committee.
After much deliberation and consternation, at some point the NCAA ruled that what we needed was a four-team college football playoff. Because a four team playoff is better than a no team playoff, right?
I mean, I guess? Maybe?
Perhaps we should be thrilled that we’re getting any kind of playoff. Sure, Alabama thrashed Oklahoma while Clemson crushed Notre Dame to set up Monday’s Alabama-Clemson title game, but everyone knew that was going to happen. The point of a playoff, especially with one-game series, should be that anything can happen. I’d love to see something wild happen, an upset, David beating Goliath. I think we’d all like to see that.
But the College Football Playoff is not designed for that to happen. March has madness because there are 64 teams and a ton of games. A three game playoff that’s a series of one game battles doesn’t really allow for that to occur.
Clemson Tigers running back Travis Etienne (9) rushes the ball during the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers at the Mercede-Benz Superdome in New Orleans Louisiana, on January 1, 2018. Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.
How are the four teams selected for the College Football Playoff? You guessed it, a committee decides who gets in. Which is how we ended up with two blowouts in the first two games. Did Notre Dame and Oklahoma have a case for getting in? Sure. Were they the third- and fourth-best teams in the country? No, they weren’t.
Whatever the method, here we are, with the two best teams in college football—the same two teams everyone picked five months ago—set to play for the title. There’s also the matter of two schools located a few hundred miles apart playing against each other for their biggest game of the year in balmy Santa Clara, CA, each about 2,500 miles from home.
As for the game itself, I think Alabama is going to win. Clemson is really good and has enough firepower to make it interesting, but Alabama is a dynasty operating at the peak of its powers. Clemson should keep it close for a while, but eventually, Alabama will prevail. Which is probably what most of us expected anyway.
I hope something fun happens in the Championship game, but I’m guessing we aren’t surprised. After all, that’s the way this is all set up to happen. Maybe one day things will get a little more interesting.
Until then? I guess we should just be happy with what we’ve got.
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