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Barry Alvarez on the CFP Committee and the Current Playoff Format

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mmp15f's picture
April 15, 2019 at 5:42am

Here's the link to the article:

Barry Alvarez, who was a member of the CFP selection committee from 2014-2016, wants to see an 8-team playoff and thinks it would be easy to do. Additionally, he said he doesn't think the committee has followed the criteria that the commissioners set when naming the four teams to compete in the playoff at the end of the year. This claim really stood out to me because the CFP website actually does list everything they supposedly look at when deciding between teams who are "comparable" to each other.

Per the website, "the selection committee ranks the teams based on the members’ evaluation of the teams’ performance on the field, using conference championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, and comparison of results against common opponents to decide among teams that are comparable."(

They actually did seem to follow this criteria the first two seasons. In 2014, they used our conference championship as the reason for choosing us over Baylor and TCU. Then in 2015, Oklahoma had a conference championship (even though they didn't have a Big 12 title game), and they had a tougher strength of schedule than us so they were the right choice.

Despite that, Alvarez is right to say the committee hasn't followed the criteria based on decisions they've made the last three seasons. If they had stuck to the criteria:

1) In 2016, Penn State probably should've have made it over us based on winning the conference and beating us. You'd think wins in those two categories would outweigh the "common opponents" category (even though they did lose to Mich pretty bad) and the strength of schedule category.

2) In 2017, we probably should've gotten in over Bama. I've never complained much about this one because Bama won it all, but I'm just basing it on the criteria. We had a conference championship unlike Bama, and we had a tougher strength of schedule. The other two categories weren't applicable.

3) In 2018, we probably should've gotten in over ND. We had a conference championship, while they aren't even in a conference. I've seen different strength of schedule rankings and us and ND are always just a few spots apart--some had us ranked higher, others had them ranked higher--so there's no decisive winner there. We also beat our common opponents, UM and Northwestern, far more convincingly than they did. 

As far as any possible playoff expansions, I don't see one happening in the near future. Regardless, I respect Alvarez for calling out the committee's inconsistency by citing a failure to follow the actual criteria they're supposed to use. Some people blindly swear the committee and/or the media has a bias for/against a certain team or conference. Alvarez, on the other hand, is pointing out that the committee hasn't done their job appropriately by highlighting the simple fact that many decisions they have made do not make sense based on the criteria set by the commissioners.

I still think the best format is an 8-team playoff that includes every Power-5 champ plus the three best teams who aren't Power-5 champs. However, I'd be happy with this system if the selection criteria was clear and the committee followed it every year






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