Sunday was like Christmas to college football fans. The four team college football playoff was announced and set in stone. The first three teams were no brainers with Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia all winning their conference titles and having one loss to gain entry. However, that fourth spot was up for debate between Alabama, a one loss team that didn’t even play in their conference title game, and Ohio State, a two loss conference title winner.
In 2016, ‘Bama head coach Nick Saban stated that a team who can’t win their conference shouldn’t be allowed in the playoffs as Ohio State failed to win the Big 10 that year and gained entry to the playoffs. This year the shoe went to the other foot as the Crimson Tide got in over the Buckeyes. The question has been why. Why did a team that couldn’t win their own conference get in over Ohio State that did.
The answers are pretty simple.
First up, Alabama only lost one game this year, to Auburn, in the Iron Bowl. Auburn is a top 10 team currently. Ohio State had two losses on the year. One in the non-conference slate to Oklahoma which isn’t a terrible loss and happened early in the season. That other loss though, wow, I seem to forget who beat the Buckeyes by 31 points?
Oh, right, a seven win Iowa team that’s headed to the Pinstripe Bowl. That loss, that one loss to an Iowa team that Ohio State overlooked, has kept them out of the playoffs. First and foremost, Iowa, like Iowa State did a few years ago, ruined a school’s national title hopes. Had the Buckeyes beaten the Hawkeyes, there is no doubt they would’ve been in over Alabama. You handle your business on the road against a team you should be able to beat.
But then again we saw Iowa State hand Oklahoma their only loss this season, it’s been a weird year for college football.
The second reason why Bama got in over Ohio State? The rubber game against Clemson. The Tigers and the Tide have put on two classics in the past two years for the national title. While not for all the marbles this year, the third game between the two schools will allow them to gain the right to play for that title they both want. With ESPN suffering from declining ratings, they need a huge draw in the playoffs. Clemson against Alabama gives them that ratings draw that they crave.
Those are the two reasons why Alabama got in and Ohio State didn’t. It all boils down to Iowa whipping on the Buckeyes and the ratings draw of Clemson and Bama. Shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out. I’m sure the tears of Ohio State fans could end a national drought right now, but it’s not the first time a team thought they deserved to be got left out. It’s how it worked in the BCS and it will continue to be this way until they either define what a great team should be or expand their current playoff system.
The FCS runs a playoff system that works. We’ve seen it work for how many years upon years now? All the teams that get in seem to be deserving of their spots in these games. It allows for non power five schools to see how they stack up against the big boys of college football. Imagine a 16 team playoff this year with Central Florida, the only undefeated school in FBS by the way, getting their shot at a Clemson or Oklahoma.
Sure they could get wiped out but they could also devise a game plan and win that contest. No games are won on paper. The old saying is on any given day, any team can beat anyone. Just look at Iowa State on the road against Oklahoma with a third string quarterback. Tell me that UCF couldn’t hang with an Alabama.
Remember when Utah, led by Urban Meyer, beat Alabama in a BCS bowl game? I sure do. Anything can happen. LSU lost to Troy State at home this year. Teams can lose. Expanding the playoff would make sense, however, they won’t.
Bowl games, all 10,000 of them, rake in too much money and ratings for them to go to the wayside in order to create a more fair and balanced playoff system. Four teams isn’t enough. Imagine if March Madness was suddenly decided between four teams while every other team with a good record had to play for a little bit of money for their school and no reason to care.
People would riot in the streets without all of those wonderful, insane games to watch. The David’s beating the Goliath’s of the word gives ratings. Who honestly cares about two mediocre teams in the Dollar General Bowl? Will anyone outside of Iowa State and Memphis’ fan base care about the Liberty Bowl? Are Iowa fans all that excited for the Pinstripe Bowl in the middle of winter in the Bronx?
Expanding the field would give fan bases and people outside of those bases a reason to watch. There could be football playoff bracket challenges like there are for basketball.
Bottom line? They didn’t get it right this year by not including Central Florida in the discussion for that fourth spot. They haven’t really gotten in right for the four team playoffs, however, they have done a better job on the New Year’s Six bowls.
I was joking around with a friend Sunday night saying that it’s only a matter of time until the playoffs get what they want. Nothing but SEC and ACC teams in the playoffs. Nothing else really matters to ESPN, it seems like, than those conferences for football. Maybe that’s why they’re having issues.
Regardless, expand the playoff or dissolve and keep trying to figure out a way that makes it fair for every school despite how big their conference is to get a shot at that national championship. Then, and only then, will they have gotten it right.