Year two

Year two

Henry Schweber

A college football playoff preview

They got it right. The NCAA looks like geniuses for the first time since, well ever. In year two of the college football playoff, the committee’s top four teams–Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State and Oklahoma–actually deserved their respective rankings.

Unlike last year, in which two deserving teams–TCU and Baylor–were left out, the committee truly selected the best four teams this time around. Many people were worried entering this season about potential issues regarding playoff seeding, as the previous year proved to be a disaster. However, midway through the season, it started to become clear that there was less parity at the top of the rankings than in previous years.

By the end of the season, the rankings basically fell into the committee’s lap: the choices were almost too easy to make. It’s a welcoming yet surprising treat for college football fans, who are generally accustomed to arguing about the process and their team’s subsequent rankings.

There were many good teams in the league this year, but the top four were significantly above everyone else in talent. Taking into account all of the scandals the NCAA has been involved in the past number of years, it’s certainly a refreshing sight to see that perhaps they do have some control and know what they are doing. As it stands, the four-team playoff seems to be a good strategy. We know who the best teams are, and they deserve to be in this position.

We can’t really know for sure if the NCAA has absolutely fixed the system, however. As Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said, “One year doesn’t make a trend.” One has to wonder if viewers could potentially benefit from a larger pool, such as an eight-team playoff. In the last week of college football action, Michigan State overcame previously undefeated Iowa to win by three in the last minute. If the NCAA extended the number of teams to eight, then we could possibly see a much-warranted rematch between the two schools.

Additionally, some other good programs would be able to show the world what they are capable of, such as Stanford, whose quarterback, Christian McCaffrey, is a Heisman finalist. This could lead to more exciting games, and possibly even higher viewership, which is certainly in the NCAA’s interest.

One place that the committee should look for possible answers is just one sport over, with college basketball’s March Madness being one of the most highly viewed events year in and year out. The original four-team playoff idea was adapted from college basketball’s Final Four system, but many pundits believe that an expansion of teams could lead to even more viewers and generally more excitement.

However, there is a fear that more teams being added into the pool would actually mess up the selection process, as the parity between mid-tier teams generally isn’t as high as those near the top. Either way, we should be grateful that the committee got it right this year, and hopefully it will set a precedent for selection committees in the years to come.