The Spread, Championship Week

If the world was perfect, we’d be getting ready to watch eight conference championship games and few other games that would have a direct impact on which teams made it to the sixteen-team College Football Playoff. We’d calmly watch Sunday’s Selection Special to see where the teams will be seeded, and which non-champions get at-large nods. Maybe some of those choices would bug us a little, but we would also know that each and every team had the ability to control their own destiny.

Instead, we’re getting the same thing we’ve been getting forever: controversy. TCU is ranked 3 spots ahead of a team that beat them, despite identical records, similar schedules and not really that much difference in terms of on-field performance. Sure, I get it, Baylor hasn’t played Kansas State yet. But if the Bears win big on Saturday, is the committee really going to knock TCU out of the #3 slot? Maybe they will, but it seems hard to believe, considering the Frogs are also in front of undefeated Florida State.

And Seminoles fans should be pretty worried about that too. I see no reason to believe that this committee won’t leave an unbeaten team out of the playoff if they think four other teams are better. If Florida State stumbles around for three quarters before barely beating Georgia Tech (a script the Noles know quite well this year) and Baylor blows Kansas State’s doors off, what’s keeping the committee from putting the Bears in? Some “statement” about non-conference scheduling?

Well, maybe. That would explain why Baylor is so far behind TCU, despite the teams’ similarities and the head-to-head win. And while I agree that a team shouldn’t be rewarded for weak scheduling, and that a 3-point win doesn’t necessarily mean one team is “better” than the other, it is sort of frustrating that a playoff system whose very purpose is to settle things on the field would completely ignore the on-field result of a game between two top teams.

But what’s most frustrating is that these arguments have to happen at all. We can stage a sixteen-team playoff beginning the week after the conference championship games, take a week off for whatever snow-holiday you celebrate, then play the final four and championship games at the exact same time we will anyway. Did some teams “have to” play a couple extra football games? Yeah. Do you really think any of the kids on those teams are going to complain about that?

Every team could enter the season knowing exactly what they need to do to make it to the playoff instead of trying to guess what a roomful of spectators is going to value. Tons of games every single weekend would matter. Nearly a dozen games this weekend would be vital. And then it would all get settled on the field.

At the end of it all, a single champion would remain. Would they be the “best” team according to the “eye test” or some binder full of charts?

Who would even care?


  1. So I agree that opening up the playoffs to all D1 conference champions would be LOADS better than the crap we’re dealing with this week. I’d love it, it would be amazing December football and all would be right with the world.

    How do you deal opening it to 16 games? Isn’t there going to be some of the same issue with picking the at-large teams? Or is it solely based on some ranking system? Could it be the highest ranked runner-ups? Seems like that would deflate, a little, the conference championship, something you rightly pointed out gives every team a goal for the season.

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