Column: The CFP committee got it right, but there’s still room for improvement

FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2017, file photo, Alabama running back Najee Harris (22) leaps over Vanderbilt safety Arnold Tarpley III (2) in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Nashville, Tenn. The Crimson Tide got the nod over Ohio State and will play Clemson in the College Football Playoff on Jan. 1, 2018, in the Sugar Bowl. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Another year has passed and the College Football Playoff is another year older.

Every year, the debates seem to last for weeks, long after the College Football Playoff committee has decided which four teams get the honor of playing in a mini-tournament for a national championship.

There are always a few teams that feel slighted by the committee, saying they should’ve made the playoff over another team and this year those teams are USC and Ohio State. Arguments for an expanded playoff, be it a 6-team or an 8-team playoff, occur each year. And those arguments are valid to some extent, and I’ll get to them later.

But for the case of the 2017 College Football Playoff, the selection committee got it right, when I didn’t really expect them to. The four teams selected – Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama – were correctly chosen to make the playoff, because when it comes down to it those were the four best teams in college football this year.

Each of these teams had one loss and, for the most part, those losses were to good teams. Both Georgia and Alabama lost to a really good Auburn team. Oklahoma lost to an impressive Iowa State team that upset multiple programs this season. Clemson had a bad loss to Syracuse, but was without its star quarterback Kelly Bryant for the second half and lost by just three points.

The same cannot be said for the other contenders in Ohio State and USC. Both of these legendary programs had bad losses. The Buckeyes got creamed by Iowa in a 31-point road loss that was the exact moment the Ohio State was knocked out of the playoff. No wins over Michigan and Penn State could erase that big a blemish.

USC had two losses to two very good teams in Washington State and Notre Dame, but were beaten badly by the Irish on the road. Two losses with one blowout like that does not make a College Football Playoff team.

Sure, ‘Bama had a really soft schedule. But the talent on that team is ridiculous. It would’ve been an abomination for them to miss the playoff, even with the loss. And the other three teams were all conference champions with good résumés, so it’s pretty clear the CFP committee got it right for once. But still, the committee (and the College Football Playoffs) has room to improve.

What is there to improve on, you ask? How could they improve on getting it right?

Well, they got it right, but that doesn’t mean the system isn’t flawed. I, for one, can never forgive the committee for leaving Penn State’s 2016 team out of the CFP, because that team had it all. They had two losses, but had warranted a spot over either Washington or Ohio State. The way to fix that is expanding the playoff to six or eight teams.

I get it, there’s an argument that if you add teams to the playoff, there will still be other teams left out, just further down the line. But I disagree. I believe that expanding to eight teams, for example, is the perfect number because it allows the playoff to separate the contenders from the pretenders. There’s always going to be teams that “probably didn’t deserve a spot” but why not let at least six to eight teams show that they do or don’t deserve a spot?

Teams like this year’s Ohio State, USC or the undefeated UCF Knights could have the right to show why they deserve to be there. Or show why they didn’t. Penn State from last year would get a chance to prove why they belonged. The same goes for TCU from a few years back. All these incredibly talented teams that were told they didn’t belong in the four-team playoff would have the chance to show why they belong for the chance at a national championship.

Sure, the arguments can go back and forth and sure the CFP selection committee got it right this year. But, if they want the perfect system to decide future national champions, the committee should look no further then an 8-team playoff.


Chris Hanna is the associate sports editor  for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu. He tweets @realchrishanna.