Making things interesting in CFP
Isaac Lorton | Tuesday, December 9, 2014
If college football’s purpose is to prepare the next generation of NFL players for professional competition, the NCAA needs to add something extra to its bowl selection process.
Ideally it would be an eight-team playoff with the power five conference champions and three at-large bids, as conference champions in the NFL make the playoffs and there are two wild cards. However, there is not enough time for such a setup and student-athletes would no longer need the student part of their title. So, scratch that.
Conference champions are often not the best teams in the league, but somehow they get in and a few even win. I’m thinking of the 7-9 Seahawks of 2010, who won in the first round. And the Giants when they won the Superbowl in 2010 with a 9-7 record and 2007 with a 10-6 record. Looking at the AFC South this year, it looks like a team with a losing record most likely will get in. We could actually see a 6-10 Falcons or Saints make the playoffs, and who knows what kind of havoc they could wreak if they win.
There is no way a team without a perfect, or nearly perfect, record would make the college football playoffs. Granted, there are more conferences and more teams in college football and a greater disparity of talent between conferences; however, there is no sense of random upsets in the college football playoff system. The four teams now in the playoffs all have the best records from the best conferences and have proven themselves throughout the year. There is no such thing as a late-season push for the playoffs in college football. Once a team loses, its hopes at the playoffs are doubtful; once a team loses twice, it is impossible to make the playoffs.
Since the selection process and committee are in their inaugural year, I think we should give the four-team playoff system a chance for a few years to see how it plays out. However, I think we should add a twist next season. The playoff committee should select a wild-card or two in the truest sense of the word.
This is not an argument for 12-1 Baylor or 12-1 TCU to get into the playoffs, that would be tedious. I’m thinking more like an 8-4 Minnesota or a 7-5 Stanford as possible candidates for the wildcard slot.
These teams are kind of good and have the potential to be good, so give them a shot to maybe win. They will for sure be the long shots in the playoffs but they might surprise a few people along the way. If they make the playoffs, they will play harder, which might make for an interesting game. Once they have something to play for, who knows — maybe they, too, could make a playoff run and win the national championship. However, it may be hard to pick which mediocre team deserves such a shot. I think the playoff team should arbitrarily or even randomly select which team gets in. I’m not above arguing that the selection committee should roll a dice or assign teams random numbers and have a fan or intern pick a number between 1-100. It would make the playoff system more interesting and give talented yet unlucky teams a shot to win it all.
Every team with a 6-6 record should be written down on a piece of paper and thrown into a large hat, then one of the selection committee members should pull out one or two teams who will get to play in the college football playoffs.
In the world of sports, the best team doesn’t always win and underdog stories are the best to follow. No one will ever be happy with college football rankings, so the playoff committee should make at least one team happy around Christmas with a random act of kindness.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.