College Football Playoffs Don’t Solve Best vs. Champion Argument

The great B-Bo on the new college football playoff system:

You might be adding more teams and pleasing the critics of the current system that argue that the champion should be determined “on the field” instead of in the polls, but there’s still the human element of the selection process that will be endlessly debated and cause more problems than it will solve. One of the few ways the committee could assist in lessening the debates perhaps is providing complete transparency in the process, showing who they selected (and more importantly, why), but even that won’t make everyone happy.

It all goes back to the “Champion” vs. “Best Team” argument. College football actually might have had it better all these years since the champion was never based just on wins/losses/luck. A collection of humans had to vote. And while there are biases and other factors that gave certain teams a disadvantage, the whole point was that the large group of voters would give the best consensus answer for who should play for the championship.

Whether the system “works” or “doesn’t work” comes down to each person’s opinion about what the system is designed to do. There is more than a month layoff between the end of the regular season/championship games and the BCS National Championship game now. One could argue this takes away the “hottest team wins” opportunity, and even allows for teams who prepare really well to have an advantage. Maybe that means this is better at determining who the better team is. And that’s all this system can really do. Which of these 2/4/8/16 teams is the “best” amongst the 2/4/8/16.

But “best” is always a relative term. And in most American sports, teams that are crowned “champion” are probably the “best” team a minority of the time. They benefit from good match ups, timing and luck more than anything. So a four team playoff, no matter how the teams are selected, just mean that the “champion” at the end of the season will be the best team out of four, instead of the best team out of two, which is really a small detail.