This season, major-college football is determining its national champion with a playoff, replacing the much-despised BCS format, which invented a national-title game with computer math and manmade rankings.
Now there’s a four-team playoff. Modest. A small step. There is much rejoicing. Not really. The whole thing’s still crap.
A committee voted on college football’s four best teams, seeded them, and sent them to play three games, sating our demand for a true champion while people like Bill Hancock still collect BCS-sized paychecks, which, of course, are written in the best interest of the student-athletes.
The format is still crap because it’s still predicated on exclusion. Four teams are picked using criteria that, despite what we’re supposed to believe, is subjective. Jeff Long, the biggest of the selection committee’s 13 cheeses and Arkansas’ athletics director, basically said so.
The playoff only further empowers the Power Five conferences and is intended — we can logically reason — to do only that.
It is meant to coalesce their influence, which, one day, should become so great that they can defect from the NCAA, which is already ceding its authority to them. It makes sense. The NCAA is a confederation maintained by the common interest of its members. The problem is its members no longer have common interests. Ohio State — a playoff pick, perhaps conspiratorially, because of its superior TV appeal to Baylor and TCU — does not operate in the same sphere as Marshall.
To make it a true playoff, there must be inclusion and firm qualification criteria, like winning a conference championship for an automatic bid. This is inarguable and it sets a consistent standard. It allows, in principle, everyone to compete, even afterthought conferences like the AAC, the MAC and Conference USA. Let the committee pick at-larges.
The playoff is just the BCS rebranded and it’s still crap.