The College Football Playoff Committee is up for their two year review. They received a strong rating in entertainment for the sheer excitement pumped into the offseason, despite comments that the semi-final scheduling was difficult for some. For many of us on the West Coast, however, the semis where a perfect lead up to a night out on New Year's Eve, just one of the many advantages to living in Pac-12 land. In Part 1 I explored entertainment value. The committee's current report card is below, and next up we'll be taking a look at the effect the new systems has had on scheduling.
1. Entertainment Value: A
2. Effect on Scheduling
4. Committee Members
5. Consideration of Past Champions
6. The Four Best Teams
7. Weighing Conference Championships
Effect on Scheduling:
A side effect of the new committee process has been a renaissance in the scheduling process. The Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC all have moved or have plans to move to nine conference games and many conferences have implemented requirements to schedule at least one Power Five team in non-conference play. The Big Ten has even introduced a plan to completely remove FCS teams from their schedules in the next few years. These changes may have unintended ramifications that are yet to be fully understood, but the increase in quality competition has been fantastic for fans.
Stanford, for example, played thirteen of fourteen games against Power Five teams in the past season, including the post season. This was without a doubt one of, if not the most difficult and aggressive schedules in the nation. While two losses kept the Cardinal out of the playoff, many argued that the ten regular season wins over Power Five Teams, the most in the country, should have pushed them in over Oklahoma or Michigan State, who each went 9-1 against the Power Five.
One might think that this snub by the committee would stifle the momentum of improved scheduling, as the four teams that made the playoff this year all played only 10 Power Five opponents, including Conference Championships. Oklahoma was the only one of these teams that played nine conference games this season, but they were also the only team not to play in a Conference Championship. Stanford, meanwhile, with a strength of schedule rating far better than any of the four teams save Alabama, was on the outside looking in. Yet, the scheduling continues to improve.
There is no logical reason that teams should be rewarded or punished more or less in the current system than under the previous BCS system, the computers implicitly account for strength of schedule in the process of rating teams and poll voters should have been considering it when casting their votes. Yet the narrative has been that with the advent of the committee, scheduling matters. And despite the fact that the two conferences that played nine conference games prior to the creation of the committee system, the Pac-12 and Big 12, are also the two conferences that have missed out on the playoff, more conferences are making the move to nine games.
So while the link between the new committee process and scheduling is not particularly clear, the result is undeniable: tougher scheduling, which leads to more exciting matchups. The upcoming season boasts unprecedented matchups in Kansas State at Stanford, Texas at California, Ohio State at Oklahoma, Oregon at Nebraska and Alabama vs USC, while still maintaining classic rivalries such as Stanford at Notre Dame. Deserving or not, the committee system gets the credit for such a stellar lineup.
Whatever the reason behind it, more difficult scheduling results in better football being played more often. It creates matchups that fans are truly excited about and is the next step in college football's growth from what began as a regional interest and has expanded into a national sport. It is indeed, a good time to be a college football fan.
Effect on Scheduling: A-