Regardless of how you crown a victor… you can’t please them all

The road to becoming the Division I BCS Champion has changed this year as we begin the first College Football Playoff season.

A playoff is supposed to determine who really is the best team in college football.

(By the way, semifinal pairings will be announced Sunday, Dec. 7 at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN.)

But many are skeptical and are already unhappy with the way the four teams for the playoff are selected.

Contenders

Right now, the four teams in are Alabama, Oregon, TCU and Florida State, ranked No. 1, 3, 4, 2 in the AP Poll, respectively.

Baylor is on the outskirts, ranked No. 6 right now. With a key win over Kansas State today, and if another top-4 team loses, they make an argument for a playoff seed.

Ohio State is in the same boat. They’re on the cuff of a playoff berth, but it’s going to take more than them winning against Wisconsin to get there.

Oh, and have you paid attention to the other controversy going on here?

Alabama (11-1). Oregon (11-1). TCU (10-1). Florida State (12-0).

In the former way to crown a champion, a computer would pick the two best teams to play. It used to be almost be a guarantee that if your ball club went undefeated while playing a tough schedule, you’d get one of those slots for the championship game.

So if you’re a Seminoles fan, you’re not happy that your team could slide out of the playoff bracket, especially if you lose to Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.

If you’re an Alabama fan, you want to beat Missouri today to be the Southeastern Conference Conference Champion, and solidify your spot in the playoff. If the Crimson Tide were to lose to Mizzou, who’s playing in their second consecutive SEC title game, then it’s very possible they’d drop out of the playoff picture. And what would a championship game, or series of games, be without Alabama or an SEC team? For the past eight years, an SEC team has played for the crown.

Oh, and do you remember the year the computer picked two SEC teams to play for the crystal football? In 2011, Alabama and LSU battle for the title. It was the only time in the BCS era that two teams from the same conference were picked for the championship game.

As an SEC fan, you want Alabama in the playoffs. If you’re a fan of any other conference, you want this to be the year without the SEC, because you’re tired of hearing about it.

Selectors

There are 12 people on the selection committee who will decide our playoff picture. It can be argued that there’s no real reason for some members of this committee to have been selected for the position.

Committee Members:

  • Jeff Long – current athletic director for the University of Arkansas
  • Barry Alvarez – current athletic director for the University of Wisconsin
  • Lt. Gen. Mike Gould – superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Pat Haden – current athletic director for the University of Southern California
  • Tom Jernstedt – former NCAA executive vice president
  • Oliver Luck – Director of Intercollegiate Athletes at West Virginia University (and, yes, he’s Andrew Luck’s father)
  • Archie Manning* – a former Ole Miss and NFL quarterback, isn’t participating on the committee due to health issues
  • Tom Osborne – former Nebraska head coach and U.S. Representative
  • Dan Radakovich – current athletics director at Clemson University
  • Condoleezza Rice – currently a professor of Political Economy in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford
  • Mike Tranghese – former commissioner of the Big East Conference
  • Steve Wieberg – the lone former media member on the committee, USA Today football writer
  • Tyrone Willingham – retired college head coach, previously at Notre Dame, Stanford and Washington

Each member of the committee has history with college football specifically, except for Condoleezza Rice. I’m all for the fairer sex being represented when it comes to decided the teams vying for a championship, being such an avid college football fan myself, but was Rice the best choice? She is a remarkably successful woman, but her area of expertise lies in politics. Why not find a female athletic director, coach, reporter, writer, president, vice president, or some other position more closely related to college football?

I could be biased as a sportswriter, but I don’t understand why there is only one member from the media on the committee. Sportswriters live, eat and breathe the sports they cover. I’m probably biased, but I think two media members out of 12 isn’t exactly running the table.

I’m also surprised the former commissioner of the Big East made the committee. A team from the Big East never earned a BCS championship bid. It’s an interesting choice.

The old adage goes “to err is human,” and this writer believes that those who make up the selection committee will make or break this inaugural college football playoff season.

Computers

To me, more people got a say in the final two teams picked in the BCS era because the computer used the numbers from all of the polls.

The Harris Interactive College Football Poll, USA Today Coaches Poll and computer rankings each constitute one-third of the BCS Standings.

The percentage totals of the Harris Interactive Poll, USA Today Poll, and the computer rankings are then averaged. The teams’ averages are ranked to produce the BCS Standings.

The six computer ranking providers are Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin, and Peter Wolfe. Each computer ranking provider accounts for schedule strength, won-loss record and home-and-away records within its formula.

— BCSfootball.org

I think the old system, with added breadth, would be a better way to determine the four teams vying for a college football national championship title.

But, at the end of the day, whether you’re using computers or humans, I’m not sure anybody is really going to be happy unless it’s their team carrying the trophy out of the stadium.

For current rankings and other information on the College Football Playoffs, you can visit their site here

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