Reviewing the College Football Playoff Race

Posted: December 4, 2016 in NCAAF

We made it. The regular season is over and we now have four good teams in Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington that will get to compete for all of the glory in the College Football Playoff. My system accurately picked the four teams for a third consecutive year and has yet to be wrong. However, just because the result was correct does not meet the system is without flaws-if either Clemson or Washington would have lost I would have had only three or two teams listed as ‘having a shot’ at the college football playoff. For this reason I plan to make some adjustments to the system I currently use to more accurately reflect the college football playoff race. Now that there have been three seasons of the playoff race I should be able to create a better system and therefore continue to be accurate for years to come. But that’s enough about fixing my system let’s talk about how we can fix college football.

I know a lot of people tend to disagree and think that college football is already a complete product and that expanding the playoff would just make the regular season less meaningful. However it cannot be ignored that the current format for determining a National Champion is brutally flawed. Two things that happen on a regular basis in college football is reward mediocrity and disregarding excellence.

I don’t know if any of you got the chance to see Jeff Walz’ (Louisville Women’s basketball coach) speech about participation trophies following loss to Maryland earlier this week. If you haven’t you should definitely watch it here. Walz goes in on participation trophies and the mental and social effect that these trophies can have. I know some bowl games carry a lot of legacy, history and meaning for some programs but with the current playoff system the bowl games are essentially just a participation trophy. They reward mediocrity (and sometimes sub-mediocrity) by allowing teams that were able to go a remarkable 6-6 with a trip to some cool place and one extra game that carries such little meaning that players headed to the draft will often sit out in order to avoid risk of injury. As previously stated, I understand the history and the legacy that some of the more prestigious bowls carry, and it would be a crime in most fans eyes to eliminate these but sometimes unpopular ideas need to be executed in order for progress and improvements to be made.

Western Michigan completed a 13-0 regular season on Friday in the MAC Championship with a win over Ohio and they will get to play in New Year’s Six game against Big Ten powerhouse Wisconsin. Given the current nature of the college football playoff system, this game carries a lot of meaning as it is WMU’s last chance to truly prove themselves as one of the best programs in the country. However, if they win and are finally able to prove themselves in the eyes of the public it won’t matter-there season will be over and they will never have gotten the fair chance they deserved at a national championship. I am certainly not a believer of equal outcome in sports (participation trophies), however, I am a firm believer in equal opportunity in sports and in everything. Equal opportunity is not something that college football currently has and it has been evidenced by the treatment of group of five undefeated’s over the last three years. The only way to ensure that teams like WMU get their fair shot is to ensure that conference champions, no matter the conference, get a shot at a national title. In speaking of conference champs not getting their fair shot, Penn St. really did get the shaft by the committee, as the conference champ of the best conference in college football this season it was a crime to leave them out. But they only had four spots and that is where the problem lies.

I am an advocate for a 16 team playoff and the removal of bowl games. Let us stop rewarding average seasons and let’s create a system that is fair to all 128 teams. The 16 team playoff would consist of 10 automatic bids for each conference and then 6 at-large bids for the next 6 best teams. I have seen other ideas like 4 super-conferences that I think would be awesome but are a long ways away from coming to fruition. The 16 team playoff also would probably take a while but it should happen as soon as possible. Wondering what a 16 team playoff would look like? I have provided a bracket below. I used the final playoff rankings for seeding and then used FPI to seed teams not ranked by committee. I think a 16 team playoff should feature home games for the higher seed in the first 2 rounds with the semifinal and national championship being held at neutral sites. Here is what we would have to look forward to:


This looks like a lot more fun than bowl games, and it is certainly a lot more meaningful.

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