The College Football Playoff was designed to be a similar setup to the National Football League playoff system to improve on the shortcomings of the Bowl Championship Series format. Four college football teams were selected based on their ranking by the CFP selection committee at the end of the regular season. These four teams would play each other in a pair of single elimination games to decide who would move onto the national title game.
The year 2014 was the first year that the College Football Playoff was introduced and the idea was that this would be a “trial run” to see if the system would be a success or a failure. The four teams selected in 2014 were Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, and Oregon. These teams playing each other made for some exciting and highly watched games. In the end, Ohio State played Oregon in the title game, and as the underdog, the Buckeyes shocked the world and won thus becoming the first College Football Playoff champion. What made this even more amazing was that Ohio State won with its third-string quarterback, Cardale Jones.
Pros and Cons
There were some things that went right and some things that went wrong with the new CFP system. Among the things that went well were the games themselves. The committee set it up to where the No. 1-ranked team played the No. 4 team and the No. 2 team played the No. 3 team. While some games were exciting, some were grind-out games and some were shootouts.
While this was an overall success, there are some improvements that can be made to the system for the coming season. In my opinion one of these shortcomings was that there were teams that were in the Top 10 that were more than deserving of getting a chance to play for a national championship, such as TCU and Baylor. However, with five power conferences in college football and only four teams selected, one or more conferences always will be left out. Last season it was the Big 12.
Perhaps an improvement will be made to add more teams to the playoff format. This is not something that will happen in the next few years, but adding more teams down the road will make the playoff process not only more fair but also more competitive.
A gray area that most fans would agree upon is that there needs to be a more transparent explanation as to what weighs the most in the selection process – win-loss records, strength of schedule, conference championships won, head-to-head records, or records against common opponents. The head-to-head aspect caused problems for TCU and Baylor when Baylor beat TCU in Waco last season. The Horned Frogs were ranked ahead of the Bears despite the two teams having the same record. This should have been specified from the beginning that head-to-head games would be considered as the last factor.
Another area of improvement would be if the committee stayed consistent with its posted rankings instead of waiting until late to post the final rankings. There should also be more quantifiable formulas such as how one set of criteria will impact the other, such as if one team loses, how will that affect the team. Another improvement is that individual committee members need to be more accountable. The committee needs to have the rankings similar to what is seen in the AP and Coaches polls. We need to be able to see an exact tally of the rankings by each committee member. Not only should each member be held more accountable, but each needs to explain why each has teams ranked a particular way.
Still the Same?
For now, the College Football Playoff process will be the same. There won’t be any changes. Some of the commissioners said there should be fewer than seven weekly rankings released. I think that factors such as head-to-head matchups, conference championships, and win-loss records need to be looked at more closely. This season look for most of the same teams fighting for playoff spots once again, but there may be some surprise teams that will enter the conversation and cause chaos in the college football world just as there is every year. One or more power conference teams will be left out. It’s pretty much a fact that if a team loses early in the season, the committee will not be as hard on them when it comes to the final selection seeding.
Buckeyes to Repeat?
Fans should expect this year to be another exciting college football season and there will be some drama as always. My pick to win the national championship this year is that Ohio State will repeat. The Buckeyes lost nine players to the 2015 NFL Draft and some were important weapons, but like the rest of the college football world they’ll be able to fill those holes. The Buckeyes have become even more dangerous with Braxton Miller switching from quarterback to wide receiver. Ohio State has defensive end Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott and of course Cardale Jones along with a healthy J.T. Barrett. The Buckeyes have been able to keep their core together despite the loss of wide receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, and defensive tackle Michael Bennett, just to name a few.
The College Football Playoff will continue to be used along with the regular bowl games. There were things that went right and there also are improvements that can be made to the system for the coming years. There also may be a repeat champion this year. All in all, the College Football Playoff made for an exciting end to another crazy college football season.