Opinion: NCAA should take another look at current CFB Playoff system

Brady Olson
Staff Writer

This past weekend, college football brought all football fans some good games and quality upsets. 

Georgia and Alabama solidified their spots at the top of the SEC, Michigan and Ohio State are on a collision course for a division-deciding game in Week 14, and Pittsburgh and Northwestern are somehow leading their respective divisions. 

Yet the most divisive and polarizing topic in college football is whether UCF, a team that is 8-0 this year and went 13-0 last year, deserves to be included in the conversation for the College Football Playoff.

The College Football Playoff has been a topic of debate ever since it replaced the BCS format. In it’s inaugural season in 2014, the exclusion of TCU was its first controversy, as they dropped from 3rd to 6th despite not playing a game. 

In 2016, another controversy came about when Ohio State, a team that lost their division to Penn State, was allowed into the playoff over Penn State, who finished 5th.  This is a product of having only four teams in the playoff. The margins are so slim between 3rd through 6th that quality teams will always be left out.

Another problem with the current playoff system is how the four playoff contenders are decided. The playoff rankings are determined by a 13-member committee that has no requirements or criteria set to determine rankings. This differs heavily from the BCS format. The BCS rankings took into account the AP Poll, the Coaches Poll, and six different computer rankings. 

The “human element” of the committee introduces the possibility of bias towards a select few, especially when only 13 people are calling the shots. 

The most popular change to playoff right now would be expanding the playoff field to eight teams. That would open up the possibility of Group of 5 teams as well as 2-loss teams to make the playoff. 

An eight-team playoff would probably use the Rose, Orange, Cotton and Sugar Bowls as quarterfinal sites, with semifinals and the championship to follow. 

Another positive change would be to eliminate the playoff committee. Returning to a modified ranking system, one that includes both human polls and computer rankings, would be a beneficial change that would help limit bias based on conference affiliation.

Week 11 should bring excitement for college football as Clemson, Washington State and Oklahoma all face tough opponents. UCF will play another bad opponent, and Alabama is sure to roll over the next ream in their way. How all of this affects the playoff picture will soon be up for debate.

Feature photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

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