They got it right. By some incredible fluke, the College Football Playoff committee, picking a four-team showdown in a horribly flawed, totally unfair and completely subjective process, managed to pick the four best teams this time.
Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama seem like the reasonable quartet to play for the national championship of college football.
The truth is no one really knows. It’s just an educated guess. Somewhat educated. And the only reasonable way to fix it is to go to an eight-team playoff that takes the majority of subjectivity out of the equation.
For now, this really isn’t a playoff. It’s a four-team invitational. Winning your conference championship is no guarantee. Ask Ohio State. And going undefeated doesn’t assure you a spot. Ask 12-0 Central Florida.
The goal of the CFP is to allow four teams to battle it out for the national title rather than decide things by a vote, as it was done for many years.
The problem is the process remains 100 percent subjective as to which teams make the final four. No matter which schools are chosen, there always are arguments that a worthy team was left out for unprofessional reasons – favoritism, politics, poor judgment, etc.
The fact that Division I has five major conferences – the Power 5 of the SEC, the ACC, the Big 10, the Big 12 and the Pac-12 – means at least one conference always is left out. This year it’s two – the Pac-12 and the Big 10.
An eight-team playoff that guaranteed all the Power-5 conference champions automatic entry would take the majority of judgment calls out of it. Adding one other rule could take a sixth spot out of the subjective category.
If a team goes unbeaten in one of the other Division 1 conferences, give that school an automatic spot in the final eight. That would have been UCF this year. If you’re going to call the other conferences D1, then you have to acknowledge an undefeated team and give them a spot in the playoff.
Is UCF on par with Clemson or OU? Probably not, but that’s a subjective opinion.
The final two spots of an eight-team playoff (or three if no other team goes undefeated) would be at-large bids. This is the one area that remains subjective.
That’s OK. It’s a small protection for a team that doesn’t meet the above categories but clearly had a great season. My at-large picks this year would be Alabama (11-1) and Wisconsin (12-1).
Arguments would remain on the at-large picks. This year, some might say Penn State or Washington or Auburn. I can live with a little subjectivity on the bottom end.
Until the playoff is a system where the argument over human error is minimized in the selection process, it always will bring controversy.
But I do congratulate the selectors this time. They got it right.