Unless some clear thinking comes along, the four team playoff will only be half as bad as the BCS Championship. The selection process labors under a number of myths, starting with the ridiculous idea that a win is a win is a win.
In considering a hypothetical four-team playoff for last year, John Canzano labeled undefeated Notre Dame a shoo-in. A win makes all the difference in whether Saturday night’s brew is to celebrate or drown sorrows, but to ignore decisiveness of wins is a recipe for disaster when judging readiness for a national championship. In 2012, Notre Dame struggled to beat five mediocre teams: Purdue, 20-17; Michigan, 13-6; BYU, 17-14; Pitt 29-26; and beat-up, Barkley-less USC, 22-13. Had Oregon and Kansas State not stumbled, the Irish would have been in the championship game ahead of Alabama, who had one bad day against a strong Texas A & M team that played lights out — seven days after Notre Dame slipped past 2-10 Pitt in triple overtime. ARMY beat Pitt!
No team brings its ‘A’ game every week. Sometimes teams play over their heads. So, to be serious about picking the best two (or four) teams, a more sensible approach is to throw out each team’s best and worst performances and see what’s left. For Notre Dame, you’re left with too many unimpressive wins over mediocre opponents. For Alabama, you have two close wins over Top Five teams and double-digit wins everywhere else. For Oregon you have double-digit wins across the board. Looking at it that way, you wouldn’t think Notre Dame would have had much of a chance. They didn’t – and until any selection process looks deeper than the win-loss records, it won’t either.