Let’s Replace The College Football Playoff Committee With A Rational Alternative

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Try establishing “committee selection” of playoff teams in pro sports. Fans wouldn’t stand for it. And for good reason…. Here’s a better way to select teams for the College Football Playoff.


The pros have it right: teams play themselves in or out of the playoffs by how they perform on the field … NOT by what’s decided by committee members sitting in a boardroom. But that’s exactly what the NCAA does.

It’s nonsense!

What’s a better way? Consider this alternative.

OSU would have made the Playoff this year (photo, WBNS-TV)

Every champion of a Power 5 conference would get into the Playoff. This year, those teams would be Georgia (SEC), Ohio State (Big Ten), Oklahoma (Big 12), Clemson (ACC), and USC (PAC-12).

Three additional teams would make the Playoff with selections based on composite rankings–AP (media) and USA Today (coaches). Two slots would go to the highest ranking non-champion Power 5 teams. This year Wisconsin (Big Ten) and Auburn (SEC) would be those teams. The third slot would go to the highest ranking non-Power 5 team–either an independent or a team representing the “Group of Five” conferences (i.e., American Athletic, Mid-American, Mountain West, Conference USA, and Sun Belt). This year that team would be UCF (AAC).

The eight teams would be seeded based on composite ranking in the aforementioned polls. The seeding this year would be in this order: Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Wisconsin, USC, and UCF.

Games would be played according to traditional seeding rules. In the quarterfinals, it would be #1-8 (Clemson-UCF this year) and #4-5 (Alabama v. Ohio State this year) with the winners facing off in the national semifinal. And it would be #2-7 (Oklahoma v. USC this year) and #3-6 (Georgia v. Wisconsin this year) with the winners playing in other semifinal game.

Rose Bowl would get the CFP championship game once every three years (photo, Visit Pasadena)

Games would be distributed to the bowls with “prime bowls” getting the semi-final and final games on a rotating basis. Quarterfinal games would be played each year at the Outback, Citrus, Cotton, and Fiesta bowls. There would be rotating seeds so that each bowl would get the #1-8 game once every four years. The two semi-final games and the championship games would be played each year at the Rose, Sugar, and Orange bowls. Each of those bowls would get the championship game once every three years.

Expanding to eight teams (from the current four) would add only one weekend to the championship slate.

Why do I prefer this model? There are two reasons.

I’m a sociologist who believes strongly in what’s called “form follows function.” You definitely need a committee (form) to discuss matters that can’t possibly be decided (function) without a conversation. For example, a locally elected board needs to discuss the matter of whether to increase property taxes. But you don’t need a committee to decide a matter like the CFP. Why? The nature of the issue isn’t such that the only alternative is committee discussion.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

There’s a second reason, too. As a sociologist, I know something about group dynamics … and when group dynamics get in the way of good decision making. That’s why–as an alternative–I prefer independent, private voting. In the alternative I propose, voters cast their votes just as we do when electing people to office — in private. But in my proposal, we’d use two voting systems (AP and USAToday), not just one. Two systems are important because there’s inherent bias if only one system is used.

Doing it as I propose avoids the socio-politics of committee decision making. Yes, CFP members recuse themselves when there’s a conflict of interest, but let’s be real: the CFP Committee is inherently political.

I believe the current system is unnecessary, problematic, and even maddening. It’s another bad decision made by the NCAA, an organization that reminds me of “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”

Join me in the quest to promote change.

#TakePoliticsOutOfTheCFP

#SayNoToTheCFPCommittee

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About Frank Fear

I’m a Columnist at The Sports Column. My specialty is sports commentary with emphasis on sports reform. I also serve as TSC’s Chief Operating Officer and Managing Editor. In that role I coordinate the daily flow of submissions from across the country and around the world, including overseeing editing and posting articles. I’m especially interested in enabling the development of young, aspiring writers. I can relate to them. I began covering sports in high school for my local newspaper. In college I served as sports editor of the campus newspaper and worked in the Sports Information Director’s Office at St. John Fisher College. After finishing grad degrees at West Virginia and Iowa State I had a 35-year academic career at Michigan State. Now retired, it’s time to write again about sports. I strongly support TSC’s philosophy–democratizing voice by giving everybody a chance to write.



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