Opinion: Why the College Football Playoff is better than the Bowl Championship Series


Maggie Wachtel is a sophomore public relations major. Contact her at [email protected].

Maggie Wachtel

The inaugural four-team college football playoff championship game was played Monday night, and it did not disappoint. Fourth seeded Ohio State defeated second seeded Oregon, 42-20.

Had it not been for the playoff system, it’s doubtful that either of these teams would’ve made it to the championship game. The playoff system was preceded by the Bowl Championship Series: a system that used a mix of computers and polls done by the Associated Press and Coaches to decide the rankings. The BCS was notorious for favoring teams that were undefeated and rarely dropping them from the polls if they played poorly.

The BCS ruled college football from 1998 until 2013. The system allowed the top ten teams to play each other in five games, known as BCS Bowl Games. But the usage of computers and polls done by biased coaches made the rankings controversial. And it faced many issues of the years.

In the 2003-2004 season, three teams finished with one loss, which according to Alabama Sports, hadn’t happened since the 1996 season. The Oklahoma Sooners remained undefeated, until losing 35 to 7 in the Big 12 conference championship game. LSU and USC also had one loss. The AP and coach’s polls voted USC number one, but the BCS system kept Oklahoma at number one and they faced off against the number two BCS team in LSU.

LSU beat Oklahoma to claim the BCS national championship and USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Three coaches chose not to vote for LSU as the champion and instead chose USC as their number one team. And it resulted in the national championship being shared.

Something like that can never happen in the CFP. There will always be one undisputed champion. There are no computers to argue it.

Along with Ohio State and Oregon, Florida State and Alabama also made the playoffs. Florida State was ranked number one at the beginning of the season, before falling to number 3 after playing poorly against lesser opponents, yet remaining undefeated. Alabama moved up to number one after defeating Mississippi State, who was ranked number one at the time of the game.

Had there been no playoffs, Florida State likely would’ve remained at number one under the BCS system with Alabama coming in at number two. They would’ve played each other for the national championship and who knows what the outcome would’ve been. But Ohio State beat Alabama and Oregon beat Florida State.

The playoff system is better. It doesn’t look at computers or polls done by coaches who favor their own teams. According to the CFP Website The playoff committee is composed of 13 members who look at each team and seed them based on record, strength of schedule, head-to-head results and conference championships won, as well as a variety of other factors.

But the point is that the rankings are all done by people who — for the most part — know a lot about football. There are no computers dictating the results and no coaches voting their own teams as number one. The College Football Playoffs did not disappoint, and they are here to stay.