Making sense of a flawed system
I’m going to state this in the simplest terms possible – the College Football Playoff is an imperfect system.
Fans in Columbus, Clemson and Seattle were ecstatic at 12:30 p.m. Sunday when the committee released its final four, while folks in State College, Ann Arbor and Norman were left wondering what more they could have done after being ranked 5, 6 and 7.
There is more Penn State, Michigan and Oklahoma could have done, but similar arguments could be made against Ohio State, Clemson and Washington as well. There were compelling cases for and against each of these teams to get in and at the end of the day the committee picked what they felt were the four best teams. I don’t have a problem with that. Because the problem is with the system and not the committee.
We have a flawed system because all schedules aren’t created equal. Schools have no control over the strength of their conference year-to-year. The SEC has been the best for a long time and has now been surpassed by the Big Ten. Those things go in cycles.
What schools can control is who they play OUT of conference. One of the biggest arguments I heard against Washington was their non-conference schedule was significantly weaker than that of the Nittany Lions, Sooners, Buckeyes and Wolverines. Washington played FCS Portland State, a team that got blown out by the likes of Cal Poly and UC Davis, as well as wins against Idaho and Rutgers, the latter of which might be the worst team in the FBS.
Again, don’t blame Washington, blame the system, and the system here is the NCAA.
The NCAA, as the governing body of college athletics, has the authority to step in and take over. Why let the schools decide and have these arguments every year about who played who?
Here’s a novel idea – the NCAA takes over scheduling and makes all Power 5 teams play other Power 5 teams in the non-conference. Would it be perfect? No, nothing is perfect, but it would be a hell of a lot better then claiming that Penn State and Oklahoma would also have went 12-1 also if they had played the Portland State’s of the world in the non-conference instead of Pitt and Ohio State, both Top 25 teams that they lost to early in the season.
Not only that, but I bet the popularity of an already popular sport would only increase and ratings would skyrocket No one wants to watch Washington-Portland State – and no one did.
You know what fans would watch? Washington against, say, well let’s just through out a random Power 5 school … Florida State.
Listen, I understand why Power 5 schools schedules programs like Portland State (sorry to keep picking on you Vikings). But wouldn’t the sport be better if those games were phased out? And to a man, I bet the players on these teams would tell you flat out that they’d rather play in a game that meant something every week.
I also wager we’d have still have arguments, but I bet we wouldn’t have nearly as many. And everyone involved would be better for it.