The Oklahoma Sooners absolutely demolished the Florida Gators in the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday night 55-20. And while Florida head coach Dan Mullen was busy making excuses for why his team lost, Lincoln Riley was making the case for why his team, in hindsight, was College Football Playoff worthy.
Riley said after the win, “We played a full schedule, won our conference, and just hung 55 points on the SEC runner ups. You can’t tell me these guys didn’t deserve a playoff spot over Ohio State.”
Of course the Sooners did not make the College Football Playoff this year for the first time in four seasons, but as many of us noted, OU has been playing like a Top 4 team for the better part of two months.
Yes, the loss to Kansas State was a bad one, and still unfathomable, even if OU was a different team in September. But regardless, this is more about how Ohio State, and all of its six games played, made the Playoff because well, they are perceived to be a Top 4 team.
They don’t have a Top 4 resume, they played nearly half the amount of games as the rest of the teams in the conversation, and their best win is… Indiana?
What Lincoln Riley said is similar to the case Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has made in terms of why he’s ranked Ohio State outside the Top 10 this season, saying, “There’s no question Ohio State is good enough to beat us, to beat any of these four [playoff teams] and be the national champion. That’s not a question at all. I didn’t rank anybody who didn’t play nine games or more in the top 10. That’s why they were 11. I have all the respect in the world for Ohio State.”
That’s exactly right.
So regardless of how you feel about whether or not the Sooners deserved the No. 4 spot, the decision to put Ohio State in this year’s Playoff should be the final nail in the coffin for what has been an incredibly flawed system in the College Football Playoff.
However, the only thing more predictable than the committee continuing to move the goal posts to justify Alabama and Ohio State finding its way into the College Football Playoff, is the way the rest of the sport is getting hosed in the process, which is hurting the game so many of us love.
Two weeks ago I made the case for the College Football Playoff to be expanded to eight teams, writing in part, “What the College Football Playoff should do is move to an eight-team playoff. These spots would be reserved for each Power 5 Conference Champion, one Group of 5, plus two at-large bids. The committee would simply be in charge of picking two at-large teams and then also selecting the ranking numbers. That’s all they need to do.”
This would at least eliminate the bias that continues to permeate the College Football Playoff committee.
I don’t expect this to happen tomorrow or next year, but as we approach the end of the College Football Playoff contract in 2025, serious discussions need to be had. We should not destroy the best regular season in sports, which college football currently has. But we also cannot continue a system where at the start of every season, three to five teams might have a legitimate chance at making this Playoff.
That can’t continue for the good of the sport.
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