Opinion: Do away with the College Football Playoff, conference championships

Matt Poe

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee selected its final four this past Sunday, effectively setting the stage for the third installment of the playoff to be played New Year’s Eve. In case you live under a rock or are one of those weird people who don’t like sports (don’t trust those people), here’s a brief recap of how the selection went down:

Pac-12 champion and fourth-seeded Washington University will take on title favorite and top-seeded University of Alabama, a game in which ‘Bama will likely bestow unspeakable horrors upon Washington. I’m thoroughly convinced Alabama head coach and Kent State alumni Nick Saban sold his soul to some college football devil in exchange to never lose; the man is a football god and — while it’s unpopular to say in this part of the country — I’m a big fan of his personality and style.

Meanwhile, ACC champion and second-seeded Clemson University will take on The Ohio State University, the third seed who sat on the couch this past Saturday without playing in the Big Ten Championship because of an earlier season loss to Penn State University.

I could dissect these games and tell you who will win and why (‘Bama will beat Ohio State) and all that other jargon. But I won’t do that because any idiot with a beer in hand — myself included — thinks they know how the playoff will unfold.

So we’ll spare each other of that. Instead, I’m taking aim at the big shots of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee and making them aware of the inconvenient truth: the playoff and conference championships cannot coexist.

Make no mistake, the committee brought this upon themselves. In three instances this year, they took conference champions to be represented in the playoff. The Big Ten, however, was another story. Penn State beat Wisconsin in the conference championship to claim the Big Ten title, and that same team handed Ohio State its only loss in the regular season.

Of course they got in, right?


The committee chose Ohio State because of its power as a brand and having one of the most popular fan bases in the country. With such a massive fan base, the committee need not worry about lack of fans traveling and shelling out abhorrent amounts of money to attend Ohio State’s playoff games. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional. Everybody knows this was the case, yet the committee won’t be transparent in stating so. And that’s the problem.

The playoff and its committee don’t know what exactly it is supposed to be or what criteria is being judged when setting the playoff. How can certain teams, like Washington and Clemson, be rewarded for winning its conference while teams like Penn State are woefully ignored for the same thing?

The other head-scratching argument that has been made all year consists of putting the “best” four teams at the end of the year in, which is arbitrary depending on what region of the country you live in or how many adult beverages you’ve had during said discussion.

The fork in the road begins here, and I find myself seeing two viable options to fix the committee’s dunce-like moves: get rid of the conference championships and select the “best” four teams at the end of the regular season. The other option would be the opposite: ensure that winning your conference championship is an automatic bid to playoff. That’s it – it’s that simple.

Of course, that won’t happen because neither the NCAA nor broadcasting companies are willing to give up the revenue earned from those games. There’s also been talk of expanding the playoff from four teams to eight teams, which would essentially water down the regular season – something that’s happened to both the NHL and NBA in their respective playoff scenarios.

At this rate, the committee’s shroud of secrecy has them bordering on Illuminati-like operations. For now, I will continue to curse the committee and its lack of transparency because, clearly, there’s isn’t a whole lot of other important news going on in the world that deserves our attention.

Matt Poe is a columnist, contact him at mpoe3kent.edu.