We knew Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia would be the top three teams in the final 2017 College Football Playoff rankings.
It all came down to two teams — Big Ten Champion Ohio State and SEC third place team Alabama.
At the end of the day, the College Football Playoff Committee selected Alabama as the No. 4 team in the country. This situation is very similar to the committee putting in Ohio State last year over Big Ten Champion Penn State, a team that also defeated the Buckeyes earlier that year.
The good news here is that the committee stayed consistent and showed us all that winning your conference championship game means pretty close to nothing.
The bad news is the way the CFP is set up is awful and needs to change sooner rather than later. Here are some thoughts I have on what needs to change in order for College Football and the CFP to be a better product, and more fair, than what it currently is.
1) Get rid of all divisions in every conference
I’ll cut right to the point — divisions in college football are meaningless.
The reason we see divisions in a league like the MLB is due to the constant travel wrapped around its 162-game schedule. The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t want to travel all the way to Boston or Atlanta constantly, and rightfully so, so instead they play against teams more often than not that are close distance-wise to them — San Francisco, Arizona, etc.
But in college football, isn’t a conference essentially a giant division? All Big Ten teams are within a few hundred miles of each other already, so why do we have to split it up even further? It’s been clear the past several seasons the Big Ten East is far superior to the West, and it causes problems in scheduling and the championship game.
This would also make scheduling more diverse. Instead of a team like Michigan playing Rutgers, Maryland and Indiana every season, they would then get to play the teams currently in the West on a more consistent basis than they normally do. With no divisions, Wisconsin may not have went undefeated this season , which was due to its lopsided schedule in the West, so who knows what the Big Ten Championship would have looked like this year?
The Big 12 has it down pat. There are zero divisions and the top two teams from the conference get into the championship game. Of course, you won’t have a great result in the championship game every season, like this year for the Big 12, but at least the top two teams are rewarded for what they did in the regular season.
Cutting divisions is vital to the rest of what I am proposing. The next part here is something that I exclaimed last year, too.
2) Expand to 8 teams, include all Power 5 Champions
This one seems pretty simple, right?
Once divisions are cut and a clear champion is crowned in every Power 5 conference championship game, those winners would then get automatic bids into the playoff. The fact we have five power conferences with only four spots in a playoff isn’t right, in my opinion. Those conferences should have one representative in the playoff every year, and that is only possible by expanding it to eight teams.
So who are the next three teams? That’s where the committee comes in.
With my playoff system, we would see Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson, USC and Oklahoma have guaranteed spots. Those members would then have to choose the next three best teams to get into the playoff.
There would always be a debate for who the next best three teams are, but it wouldn’t be as difficult as choosing between Ohio State and Alabama for the fourth spot.
Conference championship games were created for several reasons (money being a big one) but these games should be taken more seriously than what the committee is currently taking them.
3) Have all non-conference games be scheduled from Week 1 to Week 4
The week before Alabama played Auburn this year, the Crimson Tide played Mercer and won 56-0. Auburn played UL-Monroe and easily won, too.
That absolutely has to stop.
There are several reasons I feel that way. First of all, the committee values games later in the season as opposed to the first several weeks. These cupcakes games make it easier for teams that schedule FCS opponents later in the year to coast to a top spot. It’s unfair to teams like Michigan, a team that played on the road at Wisconsin the week before its rivalry game.
I realize college football scheduling happens years in advance, so the NCAA should start doing this now. There will be weak late-season non-conference games for Alabama, Clemson, etc. for a while, so cut the losses now and make things challenging for these teams as soon as possible.
The reason I propose the NCAA allows non-conference games from Weeks 1-4 is because some teams have an extremely early-season bye week. That would open up that team’s third non-conference game to be played in Week 4.
These three changes wouldn’t come quickly or easily, but these are changes that make sense for the future of the sport.
An eight-team playoff would give all Power 5 teams a reason to want to get to the championship game. Because at this point, Ohio State played an extra game against Wisconsin for no reason.