Memo to CFP: Just Choose Conference Champions
Share this article
In the cold light of harsh reality, what has the new College Football Playoff actually done?
Simply put, it's only moved the gripe from who's No 2 to who's No 5.
Yes, there will now be two more lucky winners of sorts, but they'll still be determined by a set of humans who, by definition, will make subjective choices. There's no guarantee they'll be any wiser than the current pollsters are now, and that's a damn low standard.
Face it. The only objective way to determine four qualifiers is to select teams who've proved it on the field by winning their conference titles.
And stop with the our conference is better screeds. When each league has its own agenda -- eight-game schedule vs nine-game schedule, non-con preferences, schedule rigging, etc -- this is a fruitless exercise. There's no practical way to create a uniform standard, and why should there be? They do what they do because it works for them. End of story.
Just copy what the country does in national elections. Let the locals determine an entrant however they choose -- eg- caucus or primary -- and then offer their selection for the final. Thus, if the Big XII winner is determined without a title game, so what? If the SEC West or Pac-12 North is allegedly loaded with the game's powers du jour, what's the problem? Let them battle it out amongst themselves and get back to us with the winner.
Issues still remain, though. What happens if Nôtre Dame rekindles past glories or an East Carolina runs the table? And which Power Five champ gets stiffed? The Big Ten won't always be in a down cycle, and one day the ACC may have more than 1½ teams -- think Clemsoning -- as interested in football as they are in hoops.
That solution is obvious, too. Ultimately expand the field to eight teams: Power Five titlists and three play-ins.
- The play-ins would involve six teams drawn from a pool of conference runners-up, an independent -- the Irish or BYU -- with an exemplary record from a strong schedule, and the best representative from the Other Five. The CFP could draw up some sort of objective qualification criteria in advance.
- There are enough bowls out there to make it happen. College poobahs tossed fan travel logistics out the window years ago when it sold out to big TV money, so forget what amounts to a studio audience.
- Too many 6-6 teams are in bowls already; if they want a reward for that sort of season, give 'em a day at the mall with gift coupons.
- It's there to be done. Hell, the FCS includes 24 teams!
The old adage goes that the entire NCAA season is a playoff, so live up to it in objective terms and get the imminent future of an eight-team bracket started in the right direction by getting the Core Four right.
They must be champions.