In the late 60s, college football was still holding its own as the dominant sport in many southern locales. But unlike the NFL, it wasn’t terribly well organized. Despite massive popularity, NCAA football was still considered an exhibition in many crucial respects. Voting for the Heisman Trophy, the Playboy All-American team and the Top 10 […]
In the late 60s, college football was still holding its own as the dominant sport in many southern locales. But unlike the NFL, it wasn’t terribly well organized. Despite massive popularity, NCAA football was still considered an exhibition in many crucial respects. Voting for the Heisman Trophy, the Playboy All-American team and the Top 10 was often a matter of tradition alone, since many pundits only watched a couple of teams play.
Would you believe that President Richard Nixon once determined a national champion essentially by himself? In 1969, the Texas Longhorns carried a top national ranking into an SEC showdown with powerful Arkansas. Meanwhile, Penn State was undefeated and headed for the Orange Bowl. Nixon attended the Texas-Arkansas contest and declared in advance that the winner would receive a Presidential award as the greatest team in college football. The reaction of Nittany Lion fans was later summed up by PSU head coach Joe Paterno, speaking over the phone to Nixon. “Mr. President, you can stick it!” said the coach.
The madness continued until 1998, when the BCS, or Bowl Championship Series was born. The system used a combination of computer rankings, polls, and committee arbitration to determine two teams who would play in a national championship game. Traditional “money” conferences, like the PAC-12 and SEC, seemed to enjoy artificial advantages in the BCS, but the real controversy occurred in the 2003-04 season.
LSU beat Oklahoma in the designated BCS championship game on January 4th, 2004, but a highly-touted USC squad retained a #1 ranking in the Associated Press and garnered coaches’ poll votes for #1. That created a split decision in the national title race, something that the Bowl Championship Series was specifically designed to prevent.
Finally in 2015, the CFP- or College Football Playoff- 4-team national championship tournament was born. The elimination games would rotate between original New Year’s Day bowl venues such as the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl, with a championship game held roughly a week later.
The CFP iced any debate over 3rd or 4th-ranked teams with a strong argument for inclusion in a lone title game. However, it has stirred heated discussion about 5th and 6th-ranked teams.
In the 2014-15 CFP, the talented but tumultuous Florida State finally imploded, losing to the speedy Oregon Ducks 59-20 in a semi-final, while Ohio State cracked Alabama 42-35 in another. Ohio State used team size, strength, and aggression to slow the Ducks’ fast-paced offense and prevail 42-20 in the CFP final.
In 2015-16, the Crimson Tide qualified for the playoff again, and walloped Michigan State 38-0 in their semi-final. Alabama then faced a young Dashaun Watson and the #1-ranked Clemson for the trophy. The Tigers surged up the field early, but could not convert enough Red Zone opportunities and fell behind by two scores in the 4th quarter, a deficit they could not make up. The Tide had won another national title, and they are this year’s #1 seed in their quest to repeat as CFP champions.
As for the Virtual College Football Playoff, we feel that the 7-team format is the fairest way to determine the best college football team in Division 1. Unlike the CFP, every Power-5 conference champion is included. Moreover, Alabama can benefit from the bye given to the VCFP’s #1 seed, which the Crimson Tide richly deserve after an undefeated campaign in 2016-17.