The CFP is a broken system that needs fixed
Sports have always generated debate. It’s one of the things that makes it fun to watch.
Jordan or LeBron? Ali or Tyson? DH or no DH? 1970s Steelers or 1980s 49ers? Gretzky, Lemieux or Crosby?
These are just a sampling of topics likely to come up at any sports bar on any given night. Perhaps no topic generates more debate than how to crown a college football national champion. From polls to computers to committees, this seems to be the one sports body that can’t figure out how to crown an undisputed champion.
Even the lower levels of college football have a playoff format that works. The College Football Playoff (and CFP Committee) was supposed to be the answer for Division 1 FBS football. It was supposed to make sure “deserving” teams were not left on the outside looking in (e.g. undefeated Auburn in 2004).
It’s actually done the opposite. The Committee has spurred even more debate because the criteria seemingly changes from week-to-week and year-to-year. They generated more controversy this season when they left out two Power 5 conference champions in favor of taking two teams from the SEC.
Of course, since both Georgia and Alabama won their respective semifinal games and will play each other for the CFP National Championship the Committee will say they made the right choice. To an extent, they’re right.
Ohio State and Wisconsin fans, the teams that finished 5-6 in the final CFP standings, will point to the Big Ten’s 7-1 (thanks Michigan) record in bowl games and say at least one of those teams was equally as deserving. To an extent, they’re right.
University of Central Florida fans will scream to high heaven that UCF was the only undefeated team and was probably the most deserving team. They’re absolutely right. The fact UCF was 12th in the final rankings is a joke.
The only way this is going to even remotely resemble a fair process is to move to a system similar to FCS and Divisions II and III. All conference champions, plus at least six at-large teams (creates a 16-team bracket), should be placed in a playoff tournament. It rewards teams for winning their conference, yes even Group of 5 conference champions should get a shot at winning a title, and keeps hope alive for other teams as well.
Opponents of this say things like, “it will demean the regular season,” “but the bowl games” or “fans can’t travel to that many games.”
To answer that simply: No, it won’t. Winning your conference is the ultimate goal, so regular season games still matter.
There are 130 teams at this level, certainly there will be enough 6-win teams remaining from the 114 not in the playoff to fill out a bowl schedule (and major bowls like the Rose, Cotton, Sugar, Peach and Fiesta can still host the final rounds). As for travel, the opening round games could be hosted by the higher seed.
There’s no reason this can’t, or shouldn’t be done. To delay any longer will only continue to deny deserving teams a chance to win a championship…and end one of the biggest annual debates in sports.
It’s one that should have ended long ago.
*For the record: Jordan, Ali, ban the DH, 9ers and Gretzky. Unlike many on Twitter, feel free to “@ me” and tell me why I’m wrong.