Originally Published: January 3, 2018 10:30 p.m.
Although the College Football Playoff was supposedly built to withstand criticism after its 12-year television contract with ESPN, just like its BCS predecessor, a needed change is dreadfully obvious, painfully outdated and eventually inevitable.
We just need to give it a little push.
Year four of the CFP has likely produced the most controversial decision making to date by the committee after Big Ten champ Ohio State was left out in the cold following its 27-21 win over Wisconsin in the conference championship game.
And don’t even start on me about the whole, “Well they have two losses” nonsense. Oh for Pete’s sake, one was to, uh, OKLAHOMA!
So too was the Pac-12 left on the outside looking in, a fact that’s drawn far-less criticism, especially after finishing 1-8 overall in its bowls, by far the worst output of any conference, ever.
Considering the Big Ten featured three Top 10 schools in the final rankings, the aforementioned Ohio State, Wisconsin and a Penn State team that was flat-out embarrassing Washington before the Fiesta Bowl’s final quarter, I’m not sure the committee’s decisions are justified.
And when the Big Ten finished 8-1 in its games this bowl season, suffering only a Michigan loss to South Carolina, I’m sure the frustration of all Midwest football fans boiled over.
Two SEC schools, Georgia and Alabama, which didn’t even play in its respective conference championship game, a Big 12 school (Oklahoma) and defending national champion Clemson (ACC) were invited to football’s version of the Final Four.
Is that a bad group of football teams to invite? Heck no. But is it the correct grouping? Probably not. What’s the point of playing a conference schedule to determine the best two teams in a conference, play a power five conference title game only to be snubbed in the end?
Not long ago, most conferences didn’t even host a championship game. The SEC’s first was 1992 and the Big 12’s version began in 1996. The ACC added its title game in 2005, while the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences joined the party in 2011.
Why? Because it was thought amongst the masses that an extra game would give their school that all-important final optics boost and a chance at the Final Four, or in the BCS days, a chance at the final two spots.
So much for that theory. Now all that matters is Alabama wins, they are good, and if they lose? So what. They’ll still sell more “Roll Tide” T-shirts than UCF will put butts in the seats.
Sorry Knights, your undefeated season was great, and yes, you beat an Auburn team that defeated both Alabama and Georgia in your bowl game, but let’s not go naming yourself national champion and hanging a banner just because.
Oops, too late.
So what do we do? I’ve said in the past expansion is all but inevitable. I still believe that. Will it be eight teams? 12? 16? Who knows, but the best part about sports is games are played on the field. There’s no politics. It’s mano-a-mano. You can’t declare a champion on paper, and an organization can’t say who the best team is just because they feel like it. That’s why they play the game.
Give more clubs a chance folks, College football and its fans will thank you for it.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is sports editor for The Daily Courier, the Prescott Valley Tribune and the Chino Valley Review. Follow him on Twitter at @SportsWriter52 or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.