This year the NCAA debuted their college football playoff system system this year. The FBS is comprised of 12 people who decide the standings. Team records are taken heavily in consideration as well as strength of schedule. Being the first year, there were some bumps and problems.
Four teams are chosen for the playoffs. Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Ohio State were the top seeds for this year. Of those four, only one was undefeated, FSU. Two teams with one loss, Baylor and TCU, did not get a playoff spot at all and this has caused a bit of controversy. What happens when a team has a great season but fails to make the playoffs due to 12 people in a room voting.
Another point of concern is the is issue of favoritism or bias from the committee. While committee members are prohibited from voting for teams that they have a vested interest in, there is worry that teams with a long history of strong football teams will be at the forefront of the the committee’s mind. Such legacies could put lesser known schools at a handicap when playoffs berths are calculated.
Early this year, there was talk of ESPN showing bias to the SEC through coverage and air time. Such exposure for the SEC could influence the voting process every time the committee meets. The accusation were so prevalent that they prompted Chris Fowler to passionately defend his network on Gameday.
One solution to these issues would be to expand the number of playoff spots to eight; 4 seeds and 4 wildcards. These would allow 12 teams each season to have a shot at the national championship. The extra spots would include all teams with one loss and a few teams with 2 losses where tiebreakers are more easily calculated. The accusations of legacy teams and extra media exposure would be negated by expanded playoff pool and the NCAA would gain more revenue. Everyone wins.
Despite the bumps and bruises, the playoff system seems to be a great success and widely viewed as a huge step in the right direction. College football will continue to be a New Year’s tradition for years to come.