Tuck: Solving College Football Playoff

Top 4 teams?

Top 4 conference champions?

Top 3 conference champions and 1 wild card?

Any conference champion in the top 6 gets and after that it goes to wild cards?

And of course, the BCS could still survive and we could be subject to a “plus 1” where the top 2 teams after the bowl games meet.

There are have been numerous suggestions on how college football should execute its “event” starting in 2014.  If we eliminate the Plus 1, and I think we should and will, that will leave us with the same idea and different ways to include what are the most deserving teams.

Steward Mandel of CNNSI wrote last Friday it may not matter how we do it.  He details how history shows us that in the 14-year BCS era, 42 of the 56 teams that finished in the top four of the BCS standings won their conference championship.

That’s 75 percent, which is the same exact number a three-and-one (or top 3 and wild card) system would guarantee.  Only five times in 14 years would a top four team have been left out for failing to win its conference, and all five occasions involved flipping the No. 4 and 5 teams.  For example, last season Oregon would have gotten in over Stanford as a conference champion that did beat the Cardinal because Alabama was higher ranked than Stanford.  Nobody would have complained.  In fact I complained that the voters were dumb for ranking the Ducks behind the Cardinal.

There would never have been a No. 3 left out or a No. 6 let in in the 14 year history following the three-and-one model.

I think you can make reasonable arguments for all the systems presented.  One thing that history does show us, that doesn’t come as a surprise, is that conference champions usually are the highest ranked teams.  Basically we are bickering over one spot in the tournament.

I think a committee could help satisfy all parties.  Bobby Bowden, former FSU coach agrees with the committee approach and suggests it be made up of ex-coaches.  It would eliminate worry, conspiracy, and debate over the rankings.  The rankings are a constant sore point with me and many football fans for how illogical they appear at times.

So would be my suggestion?  Top 4 with a committee.

The rankings would exist as a guideline.  Certainly power rankings including schedule strength would be hotly debated as well.  In the end, the committee would simply choose the top 4 teams, which history indicates is often 3 conference champions and a wild card.  I would hope the committee would have the sense to value a conference winner, like the Oregon-Stanford dilemma last season, and side with the Ducks.

Top 4 on it’s own can’t be trusted because of the ranking flaws.

3 and 1 format is okay, but it does open the door to the possibility of not including a worthy non-conference winner, however unlikely.

An example of a year like 2005 where a 9-2 Ohio State was ranked 4th would get in over a 10-2 SEC champ Georgia that was only ranked 7th would be one where a committee could argue that 4 conference champs be included, even though the Bulldogs ranked 7th in the polls.

Some seasons deciding who is better between teams is extremely difficult and ranking them is as well.  When you look at it and say 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 are all pretty even, and all lost 2 games, why not have the ability then to say #7 won a conference title?  A committee selecting the teams is the only alternative to rigid, black and white rankings.

This process, is anything but black and white.

As long as it is understood by the conferences what history tells us, and that the committee has the power to get it as close to right as opinion dictates possible, to include the best 4 teams, I believe all parties will be satisfied.

Of course we may still find ourselves disagreeing with the committee, but I’ll take my chances with that for now.