The College Football Playoff is already a success, with a champion yet to be crowned. Football fans got what they wanted and college football remains as exciting as ever. Add more teams? Whine about rankings? Not this year. The 2014 College Football Playoff is pristine.
I am all-in on the college football playoff. Love everything about it.
I don’t even care a whole heck of a lot about the semifinal games themselves. Alabama and Oregon are both heavy favorites, and I expect both to advance. But everything else has just been perfect.
The season itself played out splendidly. The worst case for the sport would have been finishing the year with two clear contenders (the BCS dream) and a glob of everyone else. Instead, we had ups and downs all year, culminating in a final group of six where the final vote was actually captivating.
The committee was brilliant too. It didn’t bog itself down with how past polls failed. Just because someone started at a certain seed and won doesn’t mean other teams weren’t better! This is common sense that was never, ever taken into account in past coaches or AP polls or rankings.
There were also the perfect amount of “good” teams where the final deliberation meant something. Even an eight-team playoff this season would have felt a bit too big. Michigan State is not an elite program this year; it was rightly left out of the playoff discussion. Same for Mississippi State. Letting eight teams in would have soured the season by making too many losses not matter.
I was worried a four-teamer might do the same. It didn’t. Not by a long shot. Did we just get lucky this season? Was this the perfect year for a four-team playoff or will it always be similarly exciting?
Of course there will be aberration years where one team is dominant and three undeserving others get a chance to steal their title or something of the sort. But for the majority of college football seasons, it really seems like this playoff format will work.
Now watch them mess it all up and double the playoff field because the Big 12 whined. Hey, how about this? How about play a real opponent out of conference and bring a legitimate argument to the table next time?
We get whiners every college football season, so don’t sweat the Big 12 too hard. It’s a misnamed conference with inferior football. They fought hard, but the College Football Playoff system worked beautifully. America gets not only the best teams, but the ones they want to watch as well.
Before I touch on the semi-finals matchups, because I don’t think either is one-sided, I want to mull over the four team playoff dilemma. Eight teams are certainly too many. There are a ton of victories scheduled into each of the top program’s football schedules each season. Because of this, programs with two losses at season’s end almost never qualify for ‘best in the nation’ status. That honor is only bestowed upon one loss and undefeated teams.
This year in particular a six team playoff would have worked. The top two receive byes and the other four duke it out in round one. But I’ve come around on the four team playoff. It felt like too few schools at first, but 2014 proved me wrong. Four teams in the playoff is the perfect number and six this season would have diluted everything. Four teams created controversy in the final weeks of the season. It ensured the final month of games really mattered to everyone playing. It even rewarded schools who play an extra game, when that game resulted in victory. All of this came from having four teams in the playoff, not six or eight.
No system is perfect, so college football is ensured a few years of mediocre schools at three and four. It’s also ensured of seasons with schools three through eight being very even. But on average there will be four top teams in the country. That is why this playoff format will continue to work like it did this season.
I’ll admit it, I did not want every deserving school to make the college football playoff. I did not want the final four to be an easy, no debate, decision. I wanted controversy! I wanted it to come down to the final week and I wanted teams to have to win their way in. We got all of this in 2014 because it was four teams.
I have to applaud the selection committee as well. It seems like everyone is doing so, but its well deserved. They did a great job of making a tough decision, probably using stats and stuff to do so as well.
So we have Alabama (1) vs Ohio State (4) and Oregon (2) vs Florida State (3) set for New Year’s day. I can not remember the last time I was excited to watch two college football bowl games in a single day. Most of the bowls are lackluster affairs that only mean something to the fans involved. My Alma-mater has no football program, so this is the next best thing!
I’ll give you the first shot; why are Ohio State and undefeated Florida State pushovers? Why are you so wrong?
[Part two on Friday – Winners, Losers, and a Party]
Photos courtesy of USATODAY.com, the NCAA, and College Football.