1) New Playoff Format Didn’t Include Nation’s 4 Best Teams
After the January 12th “championship game,” it’s clear that we won’t definitively determine the best college football team.
This became evident when TCU dominated Ole Miss by a 39-point margin, a team that had handed Alabama its sole defeat.
This Alabama squad was touted as the #1 team in the country by the playoff committee for its bracket. The limitations of this new four-team playoff format were glaring.
The presumed top-ranked college football team enjoyed what was essentially a home advantage in the playoff system, and they were given a 21-6 lead due to two early mistakes by Ohio State, who were playing with their third-string quarterback in only his second career start.
Despite this, Alabama ultimately fell 42-35. It turns out Alabama wasn’t as formidable as believed.
College football seems to have embraced that championships are determined by subjective opinions rather than actual on-field competition between teams.
This runs counter to the spirit of true sportsmanship. If your championship bracket doesn’t feature the finest teams in the country, it can hardly be considered a legitimate championship bracket.
This year’s events highlighted that the tournament fell one round short, and four teams simply isn’t a broad enough selection to arrive at anything more than a TV-friendly conclusion.
The argument of “when will it stop…16, 32?” loses its weight, as college and professional history and probability demonstrate that the game’s top team typically emerges from those top eight teams.
However, there are instances where they may not fall within the top four.
Fortunately, this truth was revealed in Year 1 rather than several years later.
All four teams in the national semi-finals can be argued to have ‘deserved’ their spot, exposing a flaw in college football’s definition of ‘deserving.’
Oregon put on an impressive performance against a lackluster Florida State team.
TCU, the third-highest scoring team in college football (46.5 ppg, just behind Oregon’s 47.2), holds an identical record to the two teams competing in the so-called “national championship” game.
Yet, they won’t have the chance to address the question of ‘who is the best team in the country.’
A four-team playoff doesn’t offer a substantial improvement over a single BCS championship game if neither of them gets it right.
Once again, college football’s champion was determined in a boardroom, not on the field.
2) Bowl Season Filled With Bad Football
The two semi-final matchups witnessed an astonishing total of 13 turnovers.
Notably, this count doesn’t account for two dropped interceptions on uncharacteristically poor throws by Marcus Mariota during the first half of his game against the Seminoles.
What contributed to such ragged play? Perhaps it was the extensive break between the final regular season games and the bowl matchups, although this is always a concern in bowl season, and the outcomes don’t usually turn out this chaotic.
Regardless of the explanation, it’s inevitable that both the Ducks and Buckeyes coaching staff will emphasize ball security as the primary focus in their sessions with players leading up to January 12th.
It’s reasonable to anticipate that play won’t be as haphazard now that there won’t be as much time between the two games, but 11 days still exceed the length of a typical practice week.
Once Oregon’s unit regains their rhythm, as they did in the second half of their game, they could become a formidable force.
Conversely, Ohio State is fielding a quarterback with limited experience in high-stakes football games.
If the jitters and rookie errors are eliminated, they, too, could present a significant challenge.
There are substantial grounds to believe both teams will tighten up their ball security heading into the showdown.
With that said, the team that minimizes their mistakes will likely emerge as the national champion… or whatever you prefer to call the victor of this ultimate contest.
3) CFB Still Scores Tons of Points…Even Without Dumb NFL Illegal Contact Rules
The New Year’s Day games boasted final scores of 65, 83, 50, 79, and 77.
Essentially, each was a high-scoring affair, brimming with excitement and points.
The NFL’s argument that removing their stringent rules regarding contact in the passing game (such as illegal contact and pass interference emphasis) would lead to low-scoring slugfests was once again proven patently absurd.
In college football, there’s no such thing as illegal contact. Yet, remarkably, the games remain fiercely contested and thrilling.
As someone who has been glued to the college games throughout this bowl season, it’s evident that without the constant interruptions for penalties, breaks in play, and TV consultations with rules experts, the viewing experience is significantly more enjoyable.
To reiterate, the college game outshines the professional one regarding entertainment value. This wasn’t always the case.
As an aside, you may have noticed kickoffs occurring consistently during the college bowl season, as opposed to the surplus of dead-play touchbacks in the NFL.
Strangely enough, there weren’t fleets of emergency rooms flooded with concussion cases from kickoffs.
This crucial aspect of genuine football was a regular feature throughout the college bowl season, with competitive possession changes occurring at a much more standard rate, and football continued to thrive.
The notion perpetuated by NFL higher-ups, who seem out of touch with the sport, that kickoffs are inherently “dangerous” and expendable keeps getting debunked by the collegiate game.