What Worked (And Didn’t) In The College Football Playoff


The 2014-15 college football season is now in the books and it will be one that will be talked about for years to come.

It’s what the fans wanted. A simple, yet methodical way of determining the best teams in the FBS and have them compete for a national championship. Now, after years (and in some fan’s eyes, decades), the first College Football Playoff season is finally complete.

While there were parts of the process that need to be evaluated (a subject that will be talked about for the months of the offseason), there were times where the brilliance of the selection committee was shown. Let’s look at where the CFP shined and where it needs work on:

What Worked In The College Football Playoff

1. Weekly polls and insights. Some media members are calling this one of the major flaws in the whole process. Even in the BCS system, it was a measure of what the system was thinking about their team.

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Overall, the weekly poll fed fans who genuinely wanted to know what the 12 committee members thought about the landscape of college football week after week.

It got people talking.

It was probably the most talked-about postseason system in college football history. Whether it was good or bad publicity, it was still publicity. That can only help the sport. There are some negatives to this, however, as I will explain soon.

2. Starting from scratch. I know what you all are thinking: “They may have said that they start out with a clean slate every week, but that’s probably a bunch of hogwash.” And after the second week of the polls came out, I would have tended to agree. But it’s really one of the few explanations as to why TCU dropped and why Arizona State was ranked so high.

I don’t have time for conspiracy theories. The fact is that this committee is not stupid. They watch as many games as they can. They evaluate as fairly as possible. They’re humans.  Just like you and me. That’s relatable, which should be a major plus from the old BCS system where 1/3 of the formula was six computers.

3. Punishing the Big 12. After the Peach Bowl, I remember several fans expressing discontent on Twitter that TCU should be facing Alabama and not Ohio State. The committee looked stupid at the time. That is, until four-seed Ohio State ended up taking down Alabama.

There’s a reason neither TCU nor Baylor made the field of 4: The Big 12 is incompetent in determining its champion.

I’m not in the business of saying “Well, TCU would have beaten Alabama.” Maybe. But that’s two very different game plans you have to prepare for. Ohio State and TCU are probably the one pair of teams I see as absolute polar opposites. No matter the case, the fact is that Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby wasn’t ready when he should have been. A round-robin format has an advantage no one else does in that they play each other. Baylor beat TCU. TCU has a better overall record. So why is it considered co-champions if their records are dissimilar? They missed the mark and it hurt them. That makes the Big 12 look light years behind the curve.

4. The New Year’s Six. The committee really shined here. There wasn’t one New Year’s Six bowl that didn’t have a storyline to it. TCU and Ole Miss was a blowout, yes, but it was a blowout you were forced to watch because there were no other bowl games on. The exclusivity of New Year’s Eve for the three of the NY6 bowls was a sight to see. My only complaint is that if only New Year’s Day was treated in the same way. (Outback and Citrus bowls were playing alongside the Cotton Bowl).

But the Cotton Bowl wasn’t the only one of the NY6 games the provided the excitement that was billed. The Fiesta, Orange and Cotton gave fans the entertainment that was rightfully deserved in the New Year’s Six matchup. Give credit to where credit is due: The committee created great matchups.

What Didn’t Work In The College Football Playoff

1. Tuesday Poll Releases. It’s ridiculous that fans have to wait almost three days after the games have ended to get a poll. This is 2015. We should be able to get this put together a lot quicker. Instead it seems that the playoff committee has to take an extra day to give the postman time to take the results to ESPN via horse. By the time it gets here, fans and experts only have 48 hours to digest it until the Thursday night game comes.

I can see why they wouldn’t be able to do it on a Monday, because of ESPN’s Monday Night Football coverage. But most AP and Harris polls are conducted within a day or less. Heck, even the basketball committee can put together a 68-team tournament the day after most conference championships are over. A committee of 12 should be able to put together a Top 25 easy in a day.

2. MORE Transparency. Having the committee chair, Arkansas AD Jeff Long, available after each poll release was nice show of exposure to get the actual temperature of the room among the members. That was one of the bragging points made when it was originally released that the postseason system would finally be formed. But creating a vow of silence among the members of the committee show that this system simply isn’t grown up enough to let their voices be heard.

Don’t get me wrong, Jeff Long was very insightful. But having one to two committee members per week made available to the media would have been beneficial to let the people know what kind of system they are dealing with.

3. Improve the Group of Five’s standing in college football. The “group of five”, which includes Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and American conferences, needs more say in the process. Marshall was one of dream stories of college football, and yet they didn’t make the Committee’s Top 25 until late in the season. After which they lost to Western Kentucky and they were sent to the committee’s forbidden zone.

Boise State ended up being the Group of Five representative and a lot of people scratched their heads, as the Broncos seemed all but forgotten after their loss to Ole Miss early in the season.

Overall Grade: B

Sure, this committee has it’s faults, but it did what it was charged to do: Pick the four best teams in America to play for the national championship. The first year was a marginal success, but there is still a lot of work to do to really refine the system. Not a bad launch, however. Just working out the kinks in the system. I’m sure this system will be here to stay for quite a while.