2020 proves the College Football Playoff is rigged and the game desperately needs to change
If you've read any of my previous content, you'll know this isn't the first time I've broached this subject. And I'd love to hear someone try explaining why I'm wrong.
I'm not wrong...
The College Football Playoff is a system designed for roughly 10-teams. If you are a fan, player or staffer on any of the other 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), your team will NEVER play in this playoff.
Look at 2020 as your perfect example (which is a rare thing you can say about 2020).
We already know which four teams are playing in the playoff. Yeah, sure, the College Football overlords at ESPN will air a TV show revealing the "Top 25" teams chosen by the committee, but it means nothing.
Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Ohio State will be your top four teams. The only way these four aren't playing in January is if by some sort of fluke, Alabama loses to Florida (not likely).
Just to make sure this happens, we already have the ACC eliminating the final games for Clemson and Notre Dame leading into Championship weekend to insure neither lose or have a player get injured.
Meanwhile, Ohio State waits to see if arch-rival Michigan gets out of COVID-19 protocols so they can play. If they don't, the Buckeyes will not have played enough games according to Big 10 rules to qualify for the conference title game. Unless...the conference changes the rule, which they are currently discussing.
*Note--just announced Ohio St./Michigan has been canceled. No word yet on whether the Big 10 will give the Buckeyes a pass to play in the conference championship. They finish the regular season 5-0*
Now, the SEC isn't changing anything. Alabama and Florida will play their final regular season games before playing in Atlanta for the SEC title. And the Pac 12, well, they have nothing at stake.
All of this means Texas A&M, who's game this week vs. Ole Miss was canceled due to COVID-19 has zero shot of leapfrogging anyone. It means undefeated Cincinnati has zero shot of getting in should they beat Tulsa not once, but twice over the next two weeks. It means undefeated Coastal Carolina has nothing but the Sun Belt title to worry about.
Sure, there are going to be times where it is clear cut who the best four teams in the game are. I'm not so sure this is one of those times.
But, it also is an example of what the primary focus of the CFP is. Picking the biggest brand name program. The fact most everyone who follows the game expects both Clemson AND Notre Dame to make the playoff before they play in their conference championship shows exactly what I mean.
The two teams have already played once. Notre Dame won. Let's say for the sake of argument, the Irish beat the Tigers again. It makes them 11-0 and Clemson 9-2. Yet we're assuming Clemson still gets in over a one-loss Texas A&M, an undefeated Cincinnati and undefeated Coastal Carolina or a potentially one-loss Miami.
Sure, Florida beating Alabama would complicate things even further. You then have to decide between one-loss 'Bama and one or two loss Clemson or possibly one-loss Notre Dame. Or undefeated Ohio State with possibly only five regular season games. But I don't think Alabama is losing any time soon....again.
These are all hypotheticals. I don't expect anything other than the current Top 4 to be standing at the end.
The question to the floor is this: How do you feel if you're one of the other 120 teams in the FBS?
I've said this probably 25-times in the past ear or so. There are roughly 7-10 teams who are realistically eligible to play in the College Football Playoff every season. The other 120 or so will never qualify.
This gap has grown wider over the past few years and will continue to grow unless something changes.
How many times can we see Alabama play Clemson or Ohio State for the title? Seriously.
I suppose its never enough if you're a fan of those three schools but to the rest of us, it kinda sucks.
Even in pro sports where the big budget teams operate different than the lower budget teams, most have a chance. For every time the Dodgers win the World Series, you'll see Tampa Bay or an Oakland or St. Louis at least competing for it. Most NFL teams outside maybe the Jets start the season with a shot at the Super Bowl. Outside the Patriots most recent run, the teams playing for the title change nearly every year.
What I'm saying is in most sports the same two or three teams don't play for the title every year. They do in College Football.
Alabama and Clemson and Ohio State have more money than most everyone else. Or its one of the teams working in the same financial space--Georgia, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma and Notre Dame. Yeah, there the other teams guaranteed to be in the top 10 as long as they win games. But if any of the 8 teams I mentioned here have close the same record as a team not on that list, the team not on the list isn't getting picked.
One of two things NEEDS to happen and there's at least a few people who say one or the other could actually happen and soon.
One: We split the "Power 5" from the "Group of 5". This is necessary. There is no universe where any of the group schools beat Alabama or Clemson very often if at all, because they don't have the resources to do it. Clemson spent more money on their football/athletics building than most schools have in their entire budget for a season.
If the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC just play each other, it's survival of the fittest. Sure, there might be a weak team in the conference for them to fatten up on, but that happens anyway. At least things here are fair.
Since the Group of 5 teams will never play in the playoff, why not let them have their own playoff? You and I know full well a Cincinnati or Coastal Carolina or whomever from the AAC, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West or the SunBelt runs the table, if they are lucky, the might make the New Years 6. If they're lucky.
But that is the best and highest level they'll ever achieve under the current system. If they play for their own title, it would be a lot of fun to see who gets in. I suspect it would not be the same teams every year.
Two: Scheduling. Just stop with the idiotic scheduling of a home and home series nine years down the road. Stop doing it. It's stupid and it's part of what's killing the game and taking the fun out of it.
This past week when BYU went to Coastal Carolina on short notice is total and complete proof that scheduling a quick game is possible and in all likelihoods workable.
Why can't we schedule games for 2021 at the end of the 2020 season? Or 2022 after the end of 2021? Please. Someone explain to me why we can't do this?
For that matter, why are we not playing all conference schedules with one out of conference game? Why do things happen in a normal schedule where certain schools in the same conference go nearly a decade without playing each other?
Having someone like a Montana State travel to Alabama hypothetically speaking is a waste of time, money and resources. We know who will win and its just a matter of by how much.
The argument has always been, "Well, the payout for the little school coming to the big school helps them make expenses". Ok, maybe if the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams played against their own competition, we're not having this conversation??
There is not a legitimate excuse for any of this, yet it keeps happening.
If we ever want a fair and marginally more equitable system, something has to change. Yeah, sure, in theory the CFP is a marginal step up from the BCS. And the BCS was a marginal step up from the Bowl and Poll system.
For reasons I've never totally understood, the College game is and has been stuck doing things the way they've always been done even though often it isn't the best way to do it.
Prime example: Polls. Polling is dumb. Polling is a waste of time and resources. Polling in College Football is totally and completely subjective and based on the whims or time a pollster devotes to evaluating games. Why does College Football rely on polls to tell us who the best teams are? I have never understood this process or why it is the engine that turns the wheel in the game.
That's why we play a conference schedule to determine the best teams in said conference. That's why Power 5 teams play Power 5 teams only. That's why we STOP polls. End them. Do away with them. If you win your conference, you are a playoff worthy team, period. If you don't, you don't.
Does it REALLY matter if you're ranked 18th in the AP or Coaches Poll? What exactly does that get you?
That's why it's time for College Football to change. It has to. Most of us stopped living and operating like its 1975 a long, long time ago. If you can't acknowledge times have changed and the world has evolved and there may be better more efficient and equitable ways of operating, maybe you shouldn't be operating?
No, I'm not saying the game should stop or will stop operating. It's too big of a business for that. But what I am saying is eventually things will pass them by.
Even here in the south, seeing Alabama vs. Ohio St or Clemson every single year is or will get old. There are other things to do.
Though heck, maybe I'm the one who's wrong?