Three years ago the NCAA’s decided to make the with from the BCS system to the College Football Playoff (CFP) system. Although the BCS had much ridicule because of the flawed formula used to determine rankings, the CFP may be worse. First off, the first two years, final rankings did help in one way, they forced the Big 12 to create a championship game, they were the only power five without a championship game. This came about because the conference got left out of the original playoff because they didn’t have a “true champion”. That’s really about the only good thing it has done.
In the past two years, they have had some questionable choices in ranking the teams, especially with overrunning teams and having a SEC bias. First let’s address the overhanging of teams, especially the big 10 and SEC teams. Luckily this year we didn’t have to deal with the committee trying to rank an undefeated Tennessee team who got taken to overtime by multiple unranked teams. The committee did have to deal with a 7-0 Iowa team and 2016 Nebraska team this year and had to determine if the teams they played, bottom feeders in the big 10 such as Northwestern, Indiana and Rutgers, and a poor out of the conference was enough to put them top ten, which it was. Iowa did not get fully exposed until the Rose bowl game when Christian McCaffrey went off for a ton of yards and throttled the Hawkeyes. Nebraska played a weak schedule, then played a true top ten team in Wisconsin and lost on a possible missed call in OT, then got exposed by Ohio State, losing 62-3.
Another bad thing that the CFP has provided is the fact that it is highly biased toward the SEC, which is true based on many facts. First, the SEC has five teams ranked and three in the top nine, tied with the Big 10 which also has a bias. The biggest fact that there is a bias is that when one of their “best teams” loses to inferior conference competition and it is deemed as a “quality loss”. First is Ohio State who dropped from #2 all the way to #6 after losing to unranked Penn State who lost to a 5-4 Pittsburgh team. Yet an unproven Penn State team beating Ohio State is a “quality loss” for the Buckeyes.
In the SEC it is the same story, last week 7-1 Texas A&M, the only loss coming to the best team in the nation in Alabama who might be able to beat the Browns at this pace, debuted at number 4 in the CFP and promptly lost to Mississippi State the week after. Mississippi State was 3-5 going into the game including losses to South Alabama and BYU, but yet that is a quality team and loss for Texas A&M. Just because they are a SEC team does not make them good, look at Vanderbilt, and Miss. St., and Missouri among others who are under .500%. The SEC also plays a very bad out of conference schedule, including the week right before rivalry week traditionally called “cupcake week” where they play small conference and FCS teams.
The best thing that this system creates a lot of stories and more arguments that get started. Some people think one team should be better than another and then there are more for us fans to talk about and discuss and argue over.
My point is that not only is their bias towards teams and conferences in these rankings but they also over rank many teams according to that bias as well. However much better this system is compared to the BCS there has to be another one that is more fair and unbiased, while still creating the storylines and arguments for us fans to talk about. It may be a few years before we can get something else but until then we can only hope for an expansion of the playoffs to 6 or 10 or more teams. Maybe it will get better with more teams but who knows the future.