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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

What the New College Football Playoff Taught Us

COMMENTARY – As I watched the final game of the college football season Monday night, I could not help but feel a bit of emotion come over me as the game between Oregon and Ohio State meant more than just a chance at a national title.

For the first time since maybe the start of the BCS that hung over the football world like a dark cloud of evil, college football had a landmark event – something new and innovative, and above all something for fans to jump up and down about and get excited.

College football had a purpose.

Forget the computer rankings. Forget the constant bickering on television over which four teams were the best in the game. Even forget that ESPN appeared to make FSU a whipping boy of sorts because of the record they played this season, or the fact the pundits like Kirk Herbstreit and Mark May painted a picture of Florida State as the evil empire. College football was more intriguing, more engaging and this year more than ever – every game mattered.

The concept of who a team defeated was evermore present and after September, each Saturday proved to be a boxing match where knockouts were handed out continually. Games were better, athletes were better, coaching was better.

Kudos for the idea that a playoff – something that had been discussed for decades, but never instituted – would cure the ills of choosing two schools based on computer rankings. Well, it didn’t and still stirred great debate. But in the end there were a few proven factors to the 2014-15 season.

  • Ohio State proved it was the best team in the country
  • The Big Ten, Pac 12 and Big 10 all had formidable teams
  • The ACC was not the punching bag some thought it was
  • The SEC was still the dominant conference, but could not carry its weight in bowl season

If this is the start of what becomes the greatest thing invented in football since the forward pass, then what a tremendous get for the NCAA. Yes, tweaking is needed to ensure more teams have a chance to claim the national title. Ohio State and Oregon proved they were stellar this season. Alabama and FSU should have been the two teams on the outside looking in for the final playoff spot. And TCU still may be the best team in the land this season – but now we will never know.

The final FCS rankings that came out on Tuesday proved the 12 people in the know and chose the playoff entrants knew a little something about what it was doing. There are still many flaws. Tim Tebow commented Tuesday morning on a local sports talk show in Jacksonville that he would like to see the playoff got to six teams with the two highest seeds earning a bye week or even eight teams. It just makes sense.

As we put a wrap on the college football season and recall what was a truly amazing night for the garnet and silver from Columbus, remember it is not long before we talk again about spring ball and a new freshman class. We will look toward a new beginning in Michigan, Florida and Nebraska. And once again, we will wonder to ourselves and out loud to anyone who will listen – “Who really is the best team in college football?”

If deciding who is the best next season is anything like it was the past five months, then this playoff thing is not only going to make the NCAA a lot of money, but it is also going to make a lot of programs and fans very, very happy.



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