The College Football Playoff Committee missed a golden opportunity to silence criticism by putting in either Cincinnati or Coastal Carolina.
While the committee typically has to decide among a handful of one-loss teams, there have been a couple of situations in which undefeated teams from weaker conferences have challenged the value of schedules and tough games.
Should a team get more recognition for playing in a tougher division and losing once or twice, or should more praise be bestowed on a team that has an easier schedule and wins every game?
The biggest example of this problem was the University of Central Florida (UCF) in 2017.
UCF finished the regular season a perfect 12-0, ending with a 62-55 conference championship victory in 2OT against Memphis.
However, even with a conference championship and an undefeated record, UCF found themselves outside the top four.
Every single team in the top four (Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia) had one loss.
Instead of being given a chance to compete for a national championship, UCF was placed in the Peach Bowl against Auburn, whom UCF defeated 34-27.
While Alabama may have won the National Championship, some fans cried that the UCF Knights were the true champions.
One thing that factored into fans complaints about the neglect of UCF’s undefeated season was the lack of variety in the College Football Playoff.
Since the College Football Playoff was created in 2014, there has been the possibility for 28 teams to be selected, if you include this season. However, only 11 teams have ever found themselves in the College Football Playoff.
Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State have taken 20 of the 28 all-time possible spots.
In fact, three of the championships have been between Clemson and Alabama.
The selection committee can silence all the critics by letting an undefeated team from a much weaker conference try to dethrone one of the perennial powerhouses.
Let’s assume that Cincinnati, not Coastal Carolina, is selected for the fourth spot. The playoff selection committee would kick out Notre Dame, giving the Cincinnati Bearcats the No. 4 spot and a date with Alabama in the Rose Bowl.
The Bearcats are the much weaker team both offensively and defensively when compared to Alabama, and this would be a daunting game for any team going up against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
While Cincinnati has played well enough to go undefeated all season long, they have not played anyone even remotely as potent as Alabama. Alabama’s lethal offense and ferocious defense has the talent to embarrass Cincinnati.
If the Bearcats lose, the selection committee has an excuse to exclude other similar teams in the future. This can be the committee’s example for years.
This is a golden opportunity to destroy these narratives, especially since Alabama looks so deadly.
However, since 2020 has been nothing but unpredictable, let’s say that Cincinnati wins against Alabama.
Even if Cincinnati doesn’t win the following game in the championship, fans will be elated to see their speculations come true.
Also, wouldn’t this boost the credibility of the College Football Playoff Committee?
The job of the selection committee is to pick the best four teams. Picking Cincinnati and seeing them win would make fans less speculative in the future.
Since the playoff selection committee has to do a lot of analysis across conferences and divisions, picking a correct, different team than fans are used to seeing would increase the validity of future rankings.
Selecting a team fans aren’t used to seeing eliminates the same old, same old. It also can destroy false ideas about weaker teams pulling tremendous upsets and help boost the public’s opinion of the committee’s selections.
Picking the same few teams does nothing but hammer home the same routine matchups.
The College Football Playoff Committee missed a golden chance to bolster their image.