Rome Did It
Designating a champion is easier with a playoff
College football has moved away from the calculations of a computer and into a playoff format to determine a national champion. In actuality, college football is a lot like the gladiatorial shows of Rome. Both serve as entertainment, a display of strength to dominate over an opponent. They may be for sport, but it’s always political—rankings are still decided by votes. The victor survives and advances.
This year’s new four-team playoff is anticipated to more accurately determine the better squad, no matter what the conference. During the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), two teams from the same conference, no matter their overall record or strength of schedule, could not compete for a national title, even if they deserved it. Enter the College Football Playoff (CFP) and all that has changed.
There has been much controversy over which conference
is the powerhouse in college football. It is mainly a
debate due to strength of schedule.
Many teams can have impeccable records, holding only one or two losses in a season, but the caliber of teams they play may not compare against a school who plays a top-25 team week after week. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) produces nationally ranked teams year after year.
This season, however, take a closer look—it’s not just the SEC, but more specifically, the SEC West. At the time of this article’s inception, according to the CFP rankings, the SEC had six teams ranked in the top 25, five of them from the SEC West—and of those five, four were in the top ten.
Simply put, if the college football season ended at week ten and the top four teams advanced to a playoff, a team from the SEC West would have been guaranteed a spot in the national championship game.
Two of those teams, Ole Miss and Auburn, played Sat., Nov 1 with Auburn getting the win, giving Ole Miss their second loss of the season. This was a pivotal game for playoff contention.
An Ole Miss loss allows several teams from other conferences to move up in the rankings, knocking out an SEC team. Unless Alabama were to nudge into the top spot, the SEC (West) would still be in the running. (The argument for Alabama to be considered in the top ten of most polls is a debate for an entirely different article.)
Back to the point—gladiators fought to win. They won (in many cases, survived) and advanced to the next round. They may have been pre-selected by a group of individuals interested in their own self-advancement or political gain, but the performance was determined by the athlete.
The champion earned his title by being bigger, faster, stronger, and better. The same argument can be made for the playoff model. Almost all other professional (and many collegiate) teams follow this system—so it’s nice to see college football doing the same.