The College Football Playoffs teams were announced this morning and the Top 4 are:
As we see there is one ACC team (Clemson), one Big XII team (Oklahoma), and two SEC teams (Georgia, Alabama). This leaves the Pac-12 and Big 10 completely out of the playoffs. The ACC and SEC have a systematic advantage in the College Football Playoffs and we the fans are getting screwed. College Football Playoff Committee screwed up putting Alabama in the top 4. They’ve set college football back at least 10 years.
We will NEVER see schedules get better until the committee punishes teams that don’t win their conference and don’t play good non-conference games. As a college football fan, you should absolutely be disgusted. I’m assuming that all of you are like me and love college football and enjoy watching good games and debating other fans. If that’s the case, there is no way you should be ok with a team that didn’t win their conference and played a bad non-conference schedule to be in the top 4.
The committee has essentially said that it is acceptable to lose your conference, play eight conference games while playing three non-power 5 teams, including an FCS team and get into the playoffs. Do not give me the “everybody does it” line. Clemson, Georgia, Florida, Notre Dame, USC, Miami, Cal, and others managed to schedule at least 2 power five non-conference games.
If you have a weak schedule, you should at the very least have to win your conference to get in the top four. If you’re as good as everybody “thinks” you are, then you should have won your conference! However, the committee clearly doesn’t value those things as highly as they should. This is not a diss to Alabama, but a diss to the broken system of college football. The fans continuously get screwed, and will continue to get screwed until the schedule imbalance is fixed. The worst part about it is that fans sit up and co-sign this nonsense and don’t demand better.
I’ve long said that college football schedules are consistently manipulated by the SEC and ACC, who have an advantage. Pac-12, Big XII, and Big 10 teams have a significantly smaller margin for error when trying to compete for championships. Let me explain how this works by using this table:
You can clearly see why the ACC and SEC have a win-loss advantage. Notice that there is a seven loss difference between the ACC/SEC, and Big 10 which all have 14 teams. Seven more losses means an additional game for each team in the BIG 10 against a team that could possibly beat you. Imagine how easy the path to the championship would be if Ohio State could sub out that Iowa game for Mercer. Now, lets compare those numbers to the Pac-12, which has 12 teams and 54 total conference losses. That is only two losses less than the ACC and SEC, despite having two more teams.
If that was too complicated, an easier way to explain all this is by looking at the average number of losses per team in each conference. SEC and ACC teams will lose a half game less than all other conferences.
In theory, all this would not be a big deal if the conferences made up for that conference game with a competitive non-conference game. However, in most cases that is NOT what happens.
One of the biggest conversations when comparing teams is comparing how many losses each team has. However, all wins are not created equal. I’ve heard the argument that the Big XII, Big 10, and Pac-12 “play themselves out” of the playoffs by losing too much in conference. The reality is playing 8 conference games instead of 9 conference games creates a systematic advantage for the SEC and ACC.
Now that we are all on the same page in terms of wins and losses, I’ll explain the manipulation of the committee rankings. The current formula to manipulate your way into the playoffs is: play eight conference games, one mandated power 5 team, two non-competitive FBS games, and 1 FCS team. That FCS game often presents itself in November. It is commonly referred to as a “November Cupcake”, which is a glorified bye week against teams like Mercer, Citadel, or Wofford. The “November Cupcake” is an important component for highly regarded SEC teams to move up in the playoffs because of timing. When other conferences have ranked matchups in November, SEC teams play “November Cupcakes”. This gives them an opportunity to move up the rankings without playing a competitive game, and one of the teams from the other conference has to lose. This is the formula how you consistently end up with top 10 matchups amongst SEC teams late in the season, which makes the conference appear stronger.
I contend that the committee absolutely blew it for college football by putting Alabama in the playoffs. They confirmed that conference championships and schedules don’t matter. This whole system is broken and, in order to fix it, we have to break it again. It stinks for college football fans and gives the SEC and ACC have a systematic advantage while screwing over the Pac-12 and the Big X.
Even Nick Saban (Alabama’s Head Coach) agrees with me when asked about college schedules and teams being deserving of playoff bids:
“I think it’s subjective to some degree because we don’t all play each other. I could get into my theory on this. I personally want to play all Power 5 conference teams every week. I know people say we played Mercer College and we couldn’t get a game with anybody else. All right so… If we all had to play twelve teams from the Power 5 conferences, we would have a better feel for which conferences were the strongest and there would be more crossover play… and maybe even play more conference games. Fans would like it better. You guys [the media] would like it better. You’d have a better inventory to show people. We wouldn’t have these games that people don’t really want to come to, players don’t really want to play in. And I think you’d have a better idea of who the best conferences and the best teams were.”
-Nick Saban on “College Football Playoff Selection Show” (December 3, 2018)
So here’s my solution:
1. Change the college football playoffs to eight teams.
2. Take the five power five champions and three at-large teams.
3. One of the at-large teams has to be the highest ranked non-power 5 team.
I am also open to two solutions to solve the scheduling imbalance and increase the greatness of college football for fans:
1. 9 conference games, two power 5 games, and one FBS non-power 5 game to continue to give money to the little guys.
2. 8 conference games, two power 5 games, one FBS non-power 5 game, and one FCS game to continue to give money to the little guys.
Both of these options would give the fans a much better game experience and generate more revenue for athletic departments. Teams would be more encouraged to schedule home and home non-conference games against good teams. This would make selling season tickets much easier.
This would also alleviate a lot of the nonsense discussion about resumes and strength of conferences when choosing playoff teams. The committee would have more data because teams would have played more common opponents. My plan would cause television ratings and revenue increases as well. That’s more money for the NCAA, coaches, sponsors, and athletic departments to keep out of the hands of the players. And isn’t that the #1 goal of college football?
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