Imagine with me, a scenario where the Utah Jazz return to prominence. A scenario where Gordon Hayward is an all-star, where Dante Exum runs the offense as good as any lead guard in the league and gets to the rim with his blazing speed. A scenario where Derrick Favors owns the glass and is a 20-10 threat every time out and where Rudy Gobert protects the rim like Mark Eaton did in the 80’s. A team so good that they win 60 games and secure a division title, but they don’t have a shot to win a championship because only four teams make the playoffs.
Picture a system where the San Francisco 49ers win the NFC West and have the same record as other division champs, but don’t advance because only a few teams get the chance to make it to the Super Bowl.
Imagine that the BYU Cougars finished with a top-10 ranking and a tie at the top of the WCC standings with a powerful Gonzaga squad, but don’t have a spot in the NCAA tournament because only four teams had a shot.
Picture a system where the best isn’t decided on the court or the field because a committee decides who gets those spots.
Now think of how it must feel to be Gary Patterson or a member of his TCU Horned Frogs. You have a bounce-back season that no one expected. You win 11 games in a Power 5 Conference with your only loss coming in heartbreaking fashion. You have a big-time quarterback who vaults himself onto the national stage with an incredible season. You have a stellar defense that makes plays all over the field. You have one of the best teams in all of college football, but have no shot at a National Championship even though you have a similar record to the teams that made the new college football playoff.
While Ohio State and Oregon prepare for what people hope is an exciting national title, we will never know if the winner is actually the best team or even the most deserving. That’s impossible to know when it doesn’t get determined on the field. Not when teams like TCU don’t get a shot to play for it all!
16 of 30 NBA teams (53.3 percent) make the playoffs. 16 of 30 NHL teams (53.3 percent) get a shot at a Stanley Cup after the regular season is over. 12 of 32 teams in the NFL (37.5 percent) advance to the postseason with a shot to win the Super Bowl. Even 10 of 30 teams in Major League Baseball (33.3 percent) get a shot at the World Series. But, somehow, major college football (also known as the FBS, or college football bowl subdivision) gives just four teams of 128 (3.1 percent) a chance to take home the hardware.
Everyone else decides it’s champion on the court, field or ice. Why won’t the FBS? The argument about a longer schedule and how it would affect the student-athlete is nothing but tired. The smaller divisions have a playoff. Don’t we care about how that affects the academics of the players on those teams?
In fact, no argument holds water for me. Not money. Not travel or fans. Not games played. They can all be worked out.
College basketball is the only other major sports entity in America that uses a committee to decide who gets a chance to play for a championship, but at least 68 teams get a shot and they very rarely get the seeding right.
If you are looking for proof of that, then all you have to do is look at the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The two teams who played for the National Championship were the Midwest bracket No. 8 seed, Kentucky and the No. 7 seed in the East, Connecticut. In fact, only one time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams (1985) and beyond, have all four No. 1 seeds advanced to the Final Four in the same year (2008).
The committee got the top seeds correct exactly one time in 30 tries. Why would we assume that the College Football Playoff committee would be any different?
If they employed the College Football Playoff system then there would have been no miracle title for Villanova in ’85, or for Louisville in ’86, Kansas in ’88, Michigan in ’89… you get my point.
The same can be said for every other league as well. Plenty of teams got it going just in time to make the playoffs and then took home a championship. If those leagues used the CFP system then we would have never seen the 2012 New York Giants or the 2010 Green Bay Packers. We would have never seen the 2014 San Francisco Giants or the amazing story that was the 2014 Kansas City Royals.
While the CFP is a much better system than the Bowl Championship Series of years past, it isn’t the best solution in deciding a true winner. The amount of teams who make the playoff needs to be expanded, and fast.
I can’t tell you with any kind of certainty that TCU, or Baylor or anyone else was better than the four teams that made the playoff, but I know one thing for sure; it needs to be decided on the field. Take away the responsibility from insiders and onlookers and let the players decide who is best, just like everyone else!