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No, I am not going to tell you who the best team is. That is going to be answered on the field. Or is it? I mean it is always best to watch a game at a stadium (visit this website to get the best football tickets).
In every other team sport in college or pro sports, the answer to the question, “Who is the best team?” is clearly, ” The team who wins the last game of the season.” In College Football among the teams in the division called the Football Bowl System the champion has often been called Mythical and in this author’s opinion, that adjective still applies.
In past years, there have been as many as three or four teams who won their last game of the season and could lay legitimate claims to the National Championship. The BCS game pairing the two best teams was supposed to solve this problem but in 2003, LSU won the BCS and USC won the AP vote. Both teams celebrated the National Championship legitimately and without qualification.
That brings us to 2014 and the dawn of the college playoff era. Today at 12:30 PM ET, a committee of college football notables including an avid fan who happens to be a former Secretary of State and who also happens to be female, will name the four teams in the college football playoff. They list a number of criteria for selection but basically, they are hoping beyond hope that they get it right and that the team who emerges with two wins will be the best team in college football. They will probably select the best team as one of the four and they will probably get it right. But this year, there will not be a 100% certainty that the best team in college football will be the winner of the last game. There are clearly 6 teams that could win two more games and be the champion.
According to fivethirtyeight.com, the four playoff teams will be Alabama, Oregon, TCU and Florida State. That means two teams will be left out and will probably win their last game unless they schedule Baylor vs. Ohio State in a bowl game. Alabama, Oregon and Florida State are clear and correct choices. TCU, Ohio State and Baylor are essentially equal but only one will be selected. That means two potential champions are left out of the playoff. It makes for argument and controversy for years to come. The question, “Who is the best college football team of 2014?” will not have a clear unequivocal answer. Until…
So how do they fix it so that the answer to the pertinent question is, “The winner of the last game.” Here is an answer that I gave to a journalist who works with the Mountain West Conference and that the MWC submitted as the solution.
Scrap the Conference Championships. Seed the top 16 teams in college football and play at the home of the higher seed. Two teams each from the power conferences based on Division Championships. Six at large bids with at least two going to the two top rated mid-major champions. Winners go to the four major New Year’s Bowls. Losers go back to the bowl selection committee for assignment. Then play a semifinal and a final for a true college football champion. There would still be whining and bickering about who was left out but none of those teams would be legitimate contenders for a national championship.
I attended The Ohio State University and my loyalties lie with the Buckeyes. They legitimately deserve a shot but they lost to the wrong team and that loss will give the committee an excuse to exclude them from the playoff. Beers and tears will be drunk and shed over this issue for many years to come until College Football creates a playoff system that includes all of the legitimate contenders.