I didn’t think that the fantastic 2016 College Football Season could get screwed up but, I underestimated the damage a committee could do to a relatively simple process. I forgot that committees are made up of individual egos and a collective ego. These egos must tell the world that they are in control. They will decide, regardless of facts.
“A camel is a horse put together by a committee.” Jim Valvano
The 2016 season had a clear Final Four playoff. But the committee muddied the water. The purpose of the playoffs was to settle the National Championship on the field. No popularity contests, no “politricks,” no lobbying; just the play on the field to decide the National Championships.
So what happens? Let’s review:
- There are five power conferences, which produce five Champions.
- There are only four spots in the playoff system, so one team is going to be left out.
- For the first two years, every team selected was a champion of their conference – so far so good.
- The 2014 Ohio State team got in, despite many pundits wanting two SEC teams and The Buckeyes won the National Championship!
In 2016, there were:
- There were/are five Power Conferences and five Conference Champions.
- There are still only four spots in the system.
- But the dreaded committee had to complicate a simple task.
- The committee wanted Ohio State in the Playoffs – The Bucks are a good team but lost to the Big 10 Champ Penn State on the field. Not at a conference table, not at a chalkboard, not by popular vote – on the field.
- Penn State won The Big 10 Championship fair and square on the field.
- Washington won the Pac-10 Championship on the field.
- Clemson won the ACC Championship on the field.
- Alabama won the SEC Championship on the field.
- Oklahoma won the Big 12 Championship on the field.
So the committee’s task was which of these five Champions they were going to pick to fill four slots - simple. Oklahoma looked like the odd team out. But wait – here come the egos. All of a sudden, the committee decided what happened on the field did not matter. The committee knew better than the scores on the field. They chose Ohio State, who was sitting home while the five other teams were winning their Championships on the field. So basically, Ohio State got a bye to get in the playoffs.
Ohio State is a good football team; however, Penn State beat them head to head. Ohio State beat Michigan State by one point and, one week later, Penn State beat the same Spartans by 33 points. What arrogance the committee displayed by saying that Ohio State is a better team than Penn State when Penn State beat them on the field.
If this committee was involved in the 1983 Basketball Tournament they would have given the Houston Cougars the National Championship over Jimmy V’s Wolfpack because the Coogs were a better team, despite the fact that The Pack beat them on the court. This committee would have overturned the Buster Douglas‘ KO over Mike Tyson because Iron Mike had a better record.
So what is the solution? There are a few possible solutions, but the key is to give the committees as little influence as possible. They blew it this last year and we can’t let this happen again. I never want to hear the phrases like “their body of work” or “their resume.” I just want to know the scores and the Champions.
- Keep a four Team Playoff but only Champions are eligible. No more nonsense about the strength of schedule, a body of work etc. Just the Champs. The only decision is which champion stays home.
- Expand to eight teams. All five Champions are automatically in at three at-large spots, but any undefeated team from a non-power five conference gets in. So Western Michigan would have had a shot this year. Cinderella comes to college football.
I could be supportive of either system, but the key is to have what happens on the field count more than someone’s opinion. That’s what the playoff system was supposed to do. (I would enjoy reading your opinions)
Coach Tony DeMeo
Charleston, West Virginia
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