After a number of posts that described the problem with American college football’s playoff, we finally delivered an outline of our solution two weeks ago. Soccer fans will recognize the principles of English soccer’s structure in it. After all, English soccer (and other European countries, too) get it right when it comes to determining an annual champion.
Over that time, you have, no doubt, come up with a number of reasons why the solution could not possibly exist. We have heard them, too. In this post, we will ask the three most common objections to this system. After that, we will answer each one. Hopefully, by the end, you will be on board with our solution just a little bit more.
Objection #1: You can’t break up the conferences!
For starters, look closely at how the conferences work. They already vary by sport. I (Scott) grew up in Minnesota and followed the University of Minnesota in all sports. The school is part of the Big Ten Conference, but until a few years ago, the conference did not exist in hockey. In plain terms, there was a precedent for conferences not existing across all college sports.
A few years ago, the Big East Conference was a major conference in football. Then, some of the best football schools in the Big East moved on to other conferences. Now, there is no Big East in football. The conference still exists in other sports, like basketball, but not in football. Couldn’t we create a system where the same thing happens in football for all conferences?
We only think these conferences are sacred because the shrewd managers behind those conferences have done good business to make us think they are. However, the significant movement of schools from one conference to another undermines that seemingly sacred status. If the schools themselves don’t see conferences as sacred, why should we?
Objection #2: You can’t have a system where only 26 teams have a chance to win the national championship every year.
Tell that to Central Florida. They just finished an undefeated season, winning over Auburn (a really good football school) in their bowl game to end the season.
You might think that a team that did not lose all year, winning over a significant opponent to end the season, would win the national championship. You would be wrong. Central Florida did everything they could, but they are not a big enough school. They also play in a smaller football conference (the American Athletic Conference).
In other words, Central Florida had zero – repeat, zero – chance to win the national championship this year in college football’s current playoff structure.
Our solution does not create an inability for teams to win the national championship. It simply acknowledges it.
It also creates a long-term way for schools to be able to win the national championship. Under the current system, if Central Florida does the same thing next season – perfect season, bowl game win – they still will not win the national championship.
In our system, this successful season would move them up to the top East division, which means that, next year, they could win the national championship. Sounds like an upgrade to us.
Objection #3: This will have too great of an impact on recruiting.
Each school has a limit on the number of scholarships they can offer to players, which means that there are only so many players who can go to the schools in the top East and West divisions. Once those schools fill up on players, the other players will filter down to the lower schools.
This discrepancy already exists today. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Oklahoma, and USC are just a few examples of schools that always reside at the top of the recruiting rankings. Again, this solution does not create a recruiting discrepancy. It only acknowledges it and allows for it to continue.
We see the same thing in European soccer. The best players want to play for Champions League clubs. That does not mean that players only sign for Champions League clubs. There are limits. The same limits apply to college football scholarships.
See? There are no objections for this solution that cannot be overcome. We only need to get past our desire for playoffs, which are significantly flawed. If you are a fan of English soccer, you are already on the journey.