New college football playoff system full of potential flaws




Change is good. Unless it’s a four-team playoff.

College football flipped its system of deciding a national champion from a formula combining computer rankings and human pollsters to a system where 12 officials outside of the game of football at this point in their lifetimes select teams for a four-team playoff.

Issues have been raised about the new system, and I have three big ones.

1. Winning is most important — some of the time.

Florida State is the only undefeated team left in the FBS, major college or otherwise.

Yet, the Seminoles are ranked No. 4 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.

Baylor and TCU have the same conference schedules. The Bears did not play a major non-conference team, while the Horned Frogs played one (Minnesota).

Even though Baylor beat TCU, that reason, and the fact that TCU looks like a better team, slides the Horned Frogs ahead.

2. The people choosing the four College Football Playoff teams are not people knowledgeable about the sport.

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long has been explaining the committee’s rankings after they have been released each week this season.

But what exactly do we know about this new process?

There is little transparency.

The committee members are overqualified to formulate a playoff. Their credentials in a bureaucratic setting are unrivaled, but their credentials in a setting to pick the best four college football teams in the country are bizarrely and unequivocally below par.

There are four current athletic directors and one former athletic director on the committee.

But just because they can select a football coach does not prove that it can make decidedly good judgments about whether TCU or Baylor are better.

Let me remind you again that Baylor has beaten TCU.

Bill Hancock, the director of the College Football Playoff, has created an unintelligent monster. It starts with a clearly unqualified committee that has members who have vested interests in, in some cases, specific conferences.

Clemson and Florida State are both in the ACC. Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich is one of the 12 committee members. If Florida State earns a spot in the playoff, Clemson can fill its spot in a bowl game. It would mean Clemson would earn more money off of a more lucrative bowl game. And we’re supposed to believe that Radakovich can make a rational judgement on Florida State.

Even if these officials are the best and purest athletic directors in the country, this is no position to put them in.

3. Scheduling games is too arbitrary to matter.

In most cases, conference schedules are formulaic. In the SEC, where there are 14 teams who play eight conference games, Mississippi State can play UK and Vanderbilt one season, and Florida and Georgia in the next season.

And that can decide whether a one-loss Mississippi State team makes the playoff over a Big 12 team that plays all the teams in their conference.

How do you navigate through that logically?

How do you navigate through any of these issues logically?

Easy. Make a larger playoff, where deserving teams can easily get and where a committee can choose between nine-win teams. Or go back to the computer rankings that have no inherent biases.

Do anything but this.

Nick Gray is the managing editor of the Kentucky Kernel.

Email [email protected]