Now that we have had the time to calm down from the College Football Championship, it’s a good time to reflect on the season that was, if and how the CFP should be improved, and get closure before we all dive head first into mock drafts.
College Football continues year after year to provide unexpected storylines throughout the season, but somehow for 5 of the past 9 years we have reached the same conclusion that we expected at the beginning. The Crimson Tide as National Champions (unless you ask UCF). Nick Saban is the best college coach in the history of college football. Yes, there was Bear Bryant, but Saban is better. There were so many obstacles Alabama faced in that championship game that solidified this thought for me. From losing a starting left tackle, to a player collapsing on the sideline and having to be taken out on a stretcher, to another player fighting a coach, and lastly coming back from a 13-0 deficit at halftime, Saban didn’t flinch. He made the decisions that needed to be made to win the game. With those decisions Alabama also now has a star in the making at quarterback in Tua.
In a dominant first half, Georgia took advantage of miscues from Alabama’s special teams in a missed field goal, and rode a balance of their great 1-2 punch in Chubb and Michel as well as the arm of Jake Fromm to a 13-0 lead. Alabama looked out of sorts. They had a 25-2 starter at quarterback who got them this far last year, but simply doesn’t have the passing attack that was needed to stretch the Bulldog defense vertically. Enter Tua Tagovailoa. A thick true freshman with a gun slinging mentality, with the running ability to keep plays alive against a pass rush that was formidable against the Tide’s front. Tua led the Tide comeback. After a missed field goal that would have won the game for the Tide in regulation and after taking a terrible sack in overtime, Tua dropped back to pass, looked off a senior safety for the Bulldogs, and delivered a strike for the game winning touchdown like a veteran quarterback. He will be fun to watch for years to come and it will be interesting to see what Jalen Hurts decides his future holds.
Now a majority of the country was not happy with an all SEC championship game. Alabama’s resume was critiqued throughout the bowl season, and in my opinion the committee over valued Clemson as was evident in Alabama’s dominance of them in the semifinal. Did Ohio State deserve to get in? Probably not with a 31-point loss to Iowa. But did they have the talent to potentially win the championship? Probably. Does this mean the whole system needs to change? No. But it could, and there are a few simple ways to do so.
A New System?
All Power 5 Conference Champions are in. The best non power 5 team (this year UCF) gets in. Then you have 2 at large bids. 8 team playoff, and it takes into account some of the factors the committee has discussed in their evaluation process (conference champion, head to head, eye test, overall record, etc.). This would have allowed UCF to prove themselves against the top teams in the nation. Instead they are doing their best to bring conversation about the system to the forefront by announcing they are National Champions. The problem with this expansion is that it adds potentially 3 extra games to the schedule, and at the end of the day we don’t need to turn College Football into the NFL with the champion playing 15 games.
Another option is the same set up without the 2 at large bids. 6 teams are in, and you seed them 1-6 and let them play. 1v6, 2v5, 3v4. Again though, 3 games added to the schedule potentially, which is not ideal for the life of the student-athlete. The last option allows for the power 5 to be truly represented in the top 4 by simply having them schedule games against each other instead of scheduling smaller sure-wins on their schedule. The more that these power 5 teams play each other, the better we can evaluate their overall ability. They still would play their conference schedule, but instead of Alabama playing Mercer, or Ohio State playing UNLV, they would schedule another power 5 opponent. The problem with this is that these smaller schools get paid a lot of money (1-2 million dollars) to come in and play. This is a significant amount for their athletic departments budgeting and revenue. Maybe if a team ends up getting “punished” or have a cupcake game held against them in the final selection, the system will play itself out and we will get more Notre Dame vs Georgia’s, and Ohio State vs Oklahoma’s, and Auburn’s vs Clemson’s.
Perhaps the imperfect system that we currently have is in fact the best system. It gets eyeballs to the televisions, keeps fans engaged in the conversations, and still values each game on your schedule. At the end of the day, money runs everything, so if the committee learns that more revenue is to be made by expanding the playoff, it will happen eventually. But until then, we might as well enjoy the games we have.