Remember a few years ago when the College Football Playoff system was formed to replace the old Bowl Championship Series in determining the National Champion? We were told the four-team playoff would end the controversy of who should be playing for a title by doubling the number of teams in the running. Well it has taken all of three years to prove that the CFP is just as useless as the BCS was.
Consider if you will that the winner of the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday night--either Wisconsin or Penn State--will likely NOT make the College Football Playoff--despite winning what all experts agree is the toughest conference in the country this year. Instead, at least one and possibly two teams that didn't even play for the conference title WILL get in the CFP. Ohio State at number two in the rankings is all but assured of a spot--while Michigan at number five would need Washington or Clemson to lose in their respective conference championship games this weekend to sneak in as the last team.
Yes, you can argue that Wisconsin lost to both Ohio State and to Michigan this year--both by late touchdowns--and that Penn State was blown out by Michigan early in the year. But to take two non-title teams to make up half the championship field makes you wonder why we even bother having conferences anymore? Why not just have everyone play independent schedules like Notre Dame and pick the teams you think are the best.
Another thing to watch this weekend in the American Athletic Conference title game--where Navy takes on Temple. The headlines on sports sites this week claimed that ESPN will be openly rooting against Navy in that game--because their winning the AAC would make them eligible for a New Year's Day bowl game--if they beat Army next week. The only problem with that is if Navy loses to Army (which they haven't 14-years) then they would NOT be eligible for the New Year's game. But ESPN--which owns most of the useless bowls played in December--needs to know Navy's status by Sunday so that all of those useless bowl matchups can be selected. Army-Navy is December 10th, the first bowl game is the 17th--not enough time for teams to make travel plans, sell tickets and "soak up the experience" of going to New Mexico to play a .500 team in a meaningless game just so The Worldwide Leader In Sports has something to put on the air that night.
I remain a proponent of having a 16-team playoff--with all 10 conference champions getting automatic bids--and the remaining six slots being filled by at-large teams selected by a committee--with all of the other bowl games being eliminated. Do teams from the Sun Belt or American Athletic conferences really have a chance to win? No. But what makes the NCAA Basketball tournament so much fun in March? It's the little guys taking down a major power in the first round--or at least producing a dramatic contest. And isn't that better than watching 6-6 Washington State beat 6-6 Indiana in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl?