By Parth Parikh,
Sports Business Writer
After thirteen exciting and mind-bending weeks of college football, the final four teams have been set for the third edition of the College Football Playoff. This year, the unanimous number one team in the nation and Southeastern Conference champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide, will play their semifinal game in the Peach Bowl against the Washington Huskies. The Huskies won the Pacific-12 Conference championship after defeating Colorado, and were a controversial selection to be the final seed in the playoff picture. In the matchup of the number two and three teams in the Fiesta Bowl, the Clemson Tigers, the Atlantic Coast Conference champions and last year’s playoff runners-up, go up against the Ohio State Buckeyes, a Big Ten powerhouse and a previous College Football Playoff champion.
The creation of the College Football Playoff started when many players, coaches and fans complained about the old Bowl Championship Series (BCS), a computer-simulated system where the top 10 teams are computed based on wins, losses, strength of each team’s opponents and accomplishments, such as conference championships and rivalry-game wins. Based on those results, the teams were slotted into different bowl games, such as the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Rose Bowl and the BCS National Championship Game. Many criticized the practice as not being subjective enough, rather than considering the overall team and its ability to challenge the top college football programs.
The 2011-2012 BCS Championship Series finally brought those questions to the forefront. The National Championship Game that year was between Alabama and the Louisiana State University Tigers. The issue with that matchup was that those same two teams had played each other just 65 days prior. LSU had won that matchup 9-6 in a highly-watched game between the then-number one and two best teams in America. To see that game again would be repetitive and the ratings proved that theory, as it was the third-lowest rated BCS Championship Game ever. The NCAA realized after that 2012 game that the system had to change and there had to be subjectivity in the selection process. The result of that change is the College Football Playoff.
The new College Football Playoff is a system where 12 members consisting of Athletic Directors or head coaches, past or present, meet and determine the Top 25 teams in America using objective and subjective data, with the top four teams making it to the playoffs. But even now, there still remains controversy. This year, the only guarantee in the CFP was Alabama a team who had maintained dominance in the college football world.
Even last year’s finalist, Clemson, had some doubt surrounding its eligibility.
The other teams considered for the other two spots were mainly Ohio State, Penn State and Washington. Despite losing to Penn State, Ohio State was seen as arguably better, so they became number three. The issue was the number four slot, and many felt that although Washington had one loss all year, their strength of schedule was not as strong as Penn State’s, who won the Big Ten Conference Championship and defeated Ohio State earlier in the year. When the results came out on December 4th, Penn State fans were understandably upset since their team was left out despite winning the conference championship, while Washington fans rejoiced.
This year’s playoffs may be the most exciting postseason ever, but we will see how the selection committee evolves as they face more challenges in the coming years
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 13th print edition.
Contact Parth at