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THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF: How do we get rid of the humans?

At least the BCS made psuedo-automated choices…

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Since the BCS was created humans have been trying to remove humans from the process of selecting the teams that will compete for a Division I national championship.

The problem is that any system that tries to pare down the list of eligible participants too narrowly invariably involves bias. We found this out with the BCS where only the top two teams were selected to play for the title. Oklahoma State blew that mostly computerized system to pieces, but what rose from the ashes is much worse.

While fans got a little of what they wanted…an actual playoff…it was limited to four teams that were now being chosen by….wait for it…


A committee…we all know how that works out. That’s why the playoffs chosen by humans generally involve enough teams that bias is overwhelmed by numbers (See March Madness, FCS playoffs, etc), meaning even if there is decision-making that involves bias enough teams are being included so that you can be assured the “best” team isn’t being excluded because a few knuckleheads think SEC football is the only true football. No matter how perfect the choices one Power 5 conference is being left out, and no matter how much we believe that the Pac 12 is glorified FCS we still need to play fair. Imagine if a committee chose the participants in the NFL playoffs?

Most college football fans agree that the playoff needs to expand but that discussion is a mess. Do we go to six teams? Eight teams (my vote)? What about 12 teams? This will take years to settle and likely result in more stupid human decisions, so in the interim I’ve constructed a basic formula that I think would be agreeable to most that could remove the bias we all hate (looking at you, SEC) and reduce the four-team playoff selections to a simple checklist:

  1. Any undefeated Power 5 football team. This would guarantee the P5 conference champs are automatically considered for inclusion as long as they are undefeated, however there are five of these conferences, therefore there could be five undefeated conference champs. How do you then choose who gets left out? Here are the rules:
    1. If you didn’t play an FCS non-conference opponent, you’re in. We all know this may not apply to ANY Power 5 champ, so more rules:
    2. If more than one P5 champ has played an FCS non-conference opponent:
      1. Head-to-head of the FCS opponents if they have played each other. If your FCS opponent beat the other FCS opponent, you’re in.
      2. No FCS head-to-head? Go with the higher seeded FCS playoff team.
      3. No FCS playoff teams? Go with the higher margin of victory.
      4. If you need OT to beat your FCS opponent, you are disqualified.
      5. If you played more than one FCS opponent, you are disqualified.
    3. If no P5 champ has played an FCS opponent:
      1. Go to non-conference common opponents head-to-head
      2. Multiple or No head-to-head? Common opponents margin of victory.
      3. No common opponents? Overall conference records of non-conference opponents.
      4. Still nothing? If any team in your conference that you beat lost to an FCS opponent, you are out.
    What if you don’t have four undefeated P5 champs? Then move to the Group of 5 champs…
  2. Any undefeated G5 champs and apply the same formula as above.
  3. No undefeated G5 champs? Revert to the P5 champs with one loss and apply same formula as above.
  4. No one loss P5 champs? Revert to G5 champs with one loss:
    1. If your one loss was to a P5 playoff team, you’re in.
    2. Otherwise apply same formula as above
  5. No one loss G5 champs? Revert to P5 champs with two losses.

You could keep going, but this should handle 99% of the potential scenarios AND REMOVE THE HUMAN BIAS. You could use the same formula to determine seeding. Would there be some pissed off fans? Sure, but you are mistaking me for someone who gives a shit.

The other part of this is recognizing one undeniable fact…


It doesn’t matter the level at which you are playing, and this is indisputable. As much as I hate Baylor athletics (football and basketball in particular), if the Bears go undefeated this season there is absolutely no reasonable logic in the universe that could convince me to include a one-loss Alabama team over Baylor for the playoff. Georgia? They lost to SOUTH CAROLINA who could end the season with a losing record and the COMMITTEE STILL MANAGED TO RANK THEM #4! Going undefeated, in my opinion, should automatically qualify a team for inclusion in the playoff (screw you Notre Dame and BYU. Join a conference). If too many teams qualify by this standard then you figure out how to exclude from the qualified list. This ridiculous argument about making sure you select the “best” four teams is bullshit and only SCREAMS that you need to add more teams to the playoff in order to make sure you’ve included the best teams because who is the best is NOTHING but opinion until the games are played and doesn’t matter in ANY other sport with a playoff because the format guarantees the best teams are included without IDIOTS expressing their “informed” opinions about who is the best. Also, to those who will always argue that this won’t work for Division I college football:

Keep this in mind….the “best” team doesn’t always mean the champion. If you want to be considered the best, without qualification, go win the games. That’s what makes any playoff so engrossing. Just look at March Madness. Why do they call it “Madness?” Imagine if an undefeated Boise State or UCF made the playoff and beat Bama on a last second play? NONE of us would show up for work the next day, including Bama fans.

Obviously this will go nowhere, but it was fun (and somewhat infuriating) to put together. Jump in the comments and add your own qualifiers, serious or not.