2 Tactics That Could Have Cleaned Up College Football Playoff’s Muddy Messaging

College-Football-Playoff

On Dec. 7, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee unveiled the four teams that would be participating in this year’s inaugural event … and it was not without controversy. Alabama (1), Oregon (2), Florida State (3), and Ohio State (4) received the nod. Who did not make it? A representative from the Big 12 Conference.

Views from all sides debated various points including Ohio State’s bad loss, Baylor’s soft non-conference schedule, and TCU’s loss to Baylor. But a lot of the confusion should be focused on the Playoff Selection Committee and the Big 12 Conference itself. Why?

The Committee would seemingly use different metrics each week when evaluating teams, while supposedly only using the “eye” test. Some decisions were baffling, such as listing TCU one week at No. 3, while Florida State who hasn’t lost a game in two years moved down the list. Then TCU got bounced after winning…by 50 points in a conference game.

Meanwhile, the Big 12 Conference touted a “One True Champion” all year long, but at season’s end, it awarded two championship trophies, including one to a team that lost the league tiebreaker to the other. It also did not have a conference game, where the other major conferences did.

With only four positions and five power conferences, the odds dictate that one conference has the potential to be on the sidelines while the other conferences get to take the field. Even so, how could this year’s process – which was new to everyone – been handled better? Simple: clearer communication through these two tactics:

  • Consistent Critiques: The Committee said conference championship games and the overall season played a role in evaluating teams. However during the season, it stated it was picking the best four teams for the given week.
    • Instead of seemingly making up rules as they went along, the Committee should have outlined all of their criteria at the beginning of the year. This way, the Big 12 – which does not have a championship game – would have known its representative essentially had to win all of its games to be nearly guaranteed a spot in the playoff, instead of held powerless during the selection.
  • Don’t Trump the Tagline: The Big 12 touted having “One True Champion” all year because all teams in the conference play one other. But when the season was over, the conference presented two co-champions for playoff consideration.
    • Sometimes two isn’t better than one. The Conference should have used its own tiebreaker and presented Baylor as its “One True Champion,” helping to simplify the selection process for the committee. Instead, the committee chose the “true champions” from the other four conferences.

As they say in sports, better luck next year.

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