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Steigerwald: The College Football Playoff is a Joke



Don’t blame Condoleezza Rice.

She’s no longer on the committee that’s in charge of deciding which four teams play for college football’s National Championship.

She was replaced by Sarah Palin.

Actually, she wasn’t. But, so what if she had been? Would the eventual champion of college football be any more legitimate?

Quick. Name another multi-billion dollar sport that uses a committee to determine its championship.

NCAA basketball doesn’t count because conference champions automatically get in. It’s a pretty stupid tournament, too, when you consider how many teams, who have no business playing for the championship, show up every year.

What amazes me most about the NCAA football playoff is how widely accepted it is among the national media. I will never understand why anybody who knows or cares anything about sports would buy the idea that a champion is any less mythical when a committee picks four teams than it was when two teams were voted in.

The first playoff rankings came out on Tuesday and right now the four teams that would be playing for the National Championship are:

  1. Georgia
  2. Alabama
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Clemson

There are five more weeks of voting before the Final Four are chosen.

The media will speculate until December and then debate the Final Four for a few more weeks before the playoff and it’s dumb.

Why not have a tournament that only includes conference champions?

Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin are all in the top 10. Wisconsin at 8-0 is 10th. Penn State is 8th at 7-1. Ohio State, ranked sixth at 7-1, wouldn’t make the playoff as it stands right now.

Letting the Big Ten figure out a way for those four teams to determine a conference championship and a berth in the tournament would create some pretty exciting scenarios.

Georgia and Alabama are from the SEC and ranked 1-2. What’s wrong with everything riding on the game that determines the conference championship?

A really good team would see their season end early but that happens a lot in sports.

Ask the Washington Capitals.

Wouldn’t more interest in college football be created if, starting in November, the conference standings became the most important factor instead of poll rankings?

Miami (5-0), Clemson (4-1) and North Carolina State (4-0) are in a tight race to win the ACC Championship. Who says Clemson at 5-1 is better than Miami at 5-0? They could end up playing each other for the conference championship but Clemson has to beat North Carolina State.

And what’s wrong with North Carolina State having a chance to get to the championship game by beating Clemson and Miami, winning the ACC and getting a spot in the tournament?

What would be wrong with a young team getting off to a slow start, disappearing from the polls, getting better as the season goes along, winning a conference championship with a 9-3 record and getting into the tournament?

Forget Condoleezza Rice, Sarah Palin and whoever else is sitting around a table somewhere deciding who should play for the championship.
Make it simple and just have a tournament involving the champions of :

  • Big Ten
  • Big 12
  • ACC
  • PAC 12
  • SEC
  • American Athletic (Central Fla., South Fla.)
  • Conference USA (UCON, Cinc., SMU, Memphis)
  • Mid-America (Kent St,. Akron, E.Mich., Cent. Mich.,)

Yeah, there would be some mismatches but nothing worse than the 14, 15, and 16 seeds in the NCAA basketball tournament.

If you want to keep it real, just limit it to the Power 5 conferences -Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC, PAC 12 – and include a wild card team based on wins and losses and no voting.

Let the lesser conferences have their own tournament.

No more teams being eliminated in October because of their standing in a stupid poll. Give teams a chance to fight their way back into the playoff picture by getting back into contention for their conference championship.

Or keep getting a bunch of people together for cocktails and let them decide who’s in and who’s out.

I hear Hillary Clinton’s available for next year.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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