Alabama Football: If the CFB Selection Committee could just be honest

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

In the sixth cycle of picking college football’s four best teams, Alabama football fans ask what exactly does ‘unequivocal’ mean to the Selection Committee. It could be so much simpler.

For Alabama football fans reading these words, the purpose is not to lobby for the Crimson Tide’s inclusion in this season’s Playoff final four. We could make an argument that with a win over Auburn, the 2019 Alabama football team is more deserving than either the Oklahoma Sooners or Utah Utes. We’ll hold that claim until after the Iron Bowl.

What we want to consider now is what the CFB Selection Committee should accept as its driving mandate. That mandate has been from the start, to select the best four teams in college football.

Why was it four? Because the end result was to allow the one best team to prove itself in a National Championship game. The structure of four built in a margin of error in deciding who should play in the final, title game. The group who designed the current Playoff model was confident it would ensure the top two teams would play for the Championship each season.

Five years of the CFB Playoff have proven the process has achieved its goal. There is broad consensus that every year, the two best teams have played for the title. There are certainly arguments over whether the ‘best four’ teams have been selected each year. Notre Dame last season is a good example.

The Selection Committee could make its task easier, with perhaps even better results by announcing one change. It could say a Power Five Conference Championship is only one of several criteria for choosing the best four teams. The others, as the Committee has said over time, are team win-loss records, strength of record, good wins, good losses, and eye tests from watching games throughout the season.

Making that decision and abiding by it would do away with this year’s defined mandate that a not-conference champion, must have unanimous, unequivocal support of the Selection Committee to be ranked higher than a conference champion.

Such a mandate might make some sense if the competitive quality of the Power Five conferences were equal. They are not. Many sensible college football experts will admit being a conference champion in the ACC is not equal to being a conference champion in the Big 10 or the SEC. Some experts would also agree, the top teams in the Pac 12 and Big 12 do not match the competitive quality of the top teams in the B1G and SEC. Because conferences are not equal competitively, all conference championships are not equal.

Just let the Committee pick who it believes are the best four teams. Let them vote on the basis of all the measurements they choose, as long as a conference championship is not a trump card. The absurd standard of 13 people reaching unanimous, unequivocal concurrence, in what is a subjective process, could be discarded.

Such a change will, of course, never take place. To do so might erode the facade of five equally powerful and equally deserving conferences. Such honesty will never be embraced.

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If the change suggested was implemented, this Alabama football fan might disagree with the final Committee ranking, but at least the standards used by the Committee would make sense.