Gil LeBreton

CFP should expand, or brace for disputes

CFP executive director Bill Hancock presents the national championship trophy to Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer the Buckeyes beat Oregon for the title.
CFP executive director Bill Hancock presents the national championship trophy to Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer the Buckeyes beat Oregon for the title. Star-Telegram

If you’re a TCU or Baylor alum, it’s probably best that you didn’t get to see it.

But there they were, the College Football Playoff committee and its enablers, gathered at the 50-yard line after the championship game, toasting themselves with champagne on a job well done.

Where was TV’s Larry Culpepper to spill Dr Pepper all over them when you needed him?

Insensitivities abounded at AT&T Stadium in Arlington last week. Besides the champagne toasts, there were the “Undisputed Champs” T-shirts that somebody gave the Ohio State Buckeyes to wear.

On the Internet, that’s called trolling. In Fort Worth, it’s called a slap in the face.

On the host network, there were numerous self-congratulatory insensitivities. Commentator after commentator was saying, “They got it right.”

Who got it right? The 12 people who had three teams ranked ahead of the one that eventually won? Or the network that televised all the playoff games to record audiences?

Pardon my 10th-grade math skills, but one of the chosen four teams was bound to win the championship game. If Ohio residents and the ESPN people want to congratulate the committee for “getting it right,” shouldn’t they also be saying, “You guys sure botched it on Alabama and Florida State?”

In the BCS days, true, there was no two-round playoff. Under the old system, the one-loss Crimson Tide and undefeated Seminoles would have finished ranked one-two and met for the national title.

The time-honored formula, in other words, would have prevailed. The BCS computers would have overvalued the Southeastern Conference at the start of the season — garbage in, garbage out — and Alabama would have survived the annual SEC game of musical chairs.

Florida State, no matter how many times it appeared to deserve to lose, would have been rewarded for being the nation’s only unbeaten team.

Ironically, there would have been less grounds for an “undisputed” champion had they stuck with the old system. There, at least, we saw the weekly vote totals and could read the computer calculations.

The CFP committee system, on the other hand, after pretending to bring fresh thinking into the methodology, in the end seemed so ... arbitrary. It caved in, bowing to a selection path of least resistance.

Shame on you people. After such promise, you proved to have no more integrity or be no better than the poll voters and BCS computers that picked the teams before.

The first college football game took place in 1869. It took 145 years to get a playoff, so I believe CFP executive director Bill Hancock when he says that no changes to the four-team, 12-year playoff contract will be forthcoming overnight.

But 33 million viewers watched the championship game. The three playoff games became the three most-watched events in cable TV history.

If you’re ESPN, why wouldn’t you go back to the playoff trough for more cash?

If not an eight-team field as soon as possible, why not six?

Because if you continually exclude one conference from the four-team mix, some congressman — let’s call him “Joe Barton” — is going to wonder why his constituents’ favorite team keeps getting skewered. Does the CFP really want to go to Washington and explain the “eyeball test?”

Does the CFP want to explain to Congress why TCU was the only team in the seven weeks of the committee standings to drop more than one place after winning a game — and that by a 55-3 score?

Using the old BCS system rankings (1998 through 2013), 26 different universities would have qualified for a four-team playoff at least once. TCU would have made it in 2009 and 2010.

For the 16 seasons of the BCS, however, only twice were there more than six teams from the so-called Power 5 conferences that finished undefeated or with only one loss.

Had an eight-team playoff existed, teams with one defeat would have been excluded only four times.

Eight teams, in other words, could solve a lot of disputes. It might avoid a congressional inquiry. Better yet, it could make ESPN more money.

Shame on the CFP people who don’t recognize that. And soon.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @gillebreton

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