Now that it appears that the four-team national championship playoff is going to happen, I wanted to look and see how this would have set up over the last few seasons in the college football landscape.
The idea of a playoff has been a dream to so many, but will it result in a less argued and debated champion? We don't know right now how the four teams will be decided, but I will use what data we have to show some potential issues that may have arrived.
Let me start this by saying that I am not a big proponent of a playoff in college football.
This is because, at some level, every system shown thus far depends on rankings. And rankings are flawed. Anytime a group of people or computer algorithms can look at the same set of data and make differing conclusions, there is a problem. There is no foolproof way to remove the bias and subjectivity from this sort of data.
This is why any activity that needs to be judged is not a true sport (sorry gymnastics, diving and boxing). The selection of the four playoff participants will be subject to the same flawed interpretation of data that has given us the BCS rankings of recent past.
The other problem is the inevitable conspiracy theories. The recent vogue theory in college football is that ESPN has too much influence on the BCS rankings. This assumes that the voters and computer algorithms that decide the BCS watch Kirk Herbstreit and his ilk and actually pay attention to them. The supposed benefits ESPN receives by picking Alabama ahead of Oklahoma State are complicated, confusing and worthy of manifestos written by a hermit with tin foil on his head to keep the propaganda filtered out.
Besides, the one thing you can be sure of with a scatterbrained organization like ESPN is that whatever some expert tells you one hour will be contradicted by another expert the next. To think this group is capable of a coordinated conspiracy is a bit funny.
Anyway, using the final regular season BCS rankings as a guide, here is who would have made it to the four-team playoff in the last three college football seasons.