On Football: Change seems likely amid frustration with CFP
Seven years after its inception, the postseason system that replaced the Bowl Championship Series is causing frustration and, in some cases, contempt from fans and competitors who ultimately knocked the BCS down.
Texas A&M is upset that it doesn't make the last four.
Indiana is crazy about being left out of the New Year's Six.
The group of five teams is being disregarded more than ever as it has become apparent that they aren't even seriously considering the college football playoffs.
And it's not just the CFP that upset people on Sunday. The entire bowl system was exposed as a scam unrelated to rewarding deserving teams, as Army (9-2) went off-season with no opponents while nine teams with losing records - including 2-8 South Carolina games got.
"What I can tell you is why there are complaints and I say it with a smile on my face because people care," said Gary Barta, Iowa director of sport, chairman of the playoff selection committee. "You care very much."
True. The backbone of sport, its economic engine, is the passion that fans have for it. But when too many customers - and attendees - are upset, it's no longer laughing.
Of course, some of this is just typical whining that will never go away. The concept of people disagreeing on a subjective process has gone out of the window. Sure, Texas A&M had Case # 4. But only those who analyzed it through auburn glasses would claim the Aggies had been robbed.
Even so, it could be a good thing if the powerful Southeast Conference doesn't even take advantage of the doubt. The only conference prior to this year that placed two teams on one of the last four teams is the staunchest public advocate of the status quo.
A small disappointment could motivate the SEC to push for change. It certainly had that effect in the Big Ten after a couple of seasons where its champion was banned.
The Atlantic Coast Conference featured two teams in the semifinals of this season on January 1, with Alabama No. 1 going up against Notre Dame in Arlington, Texas, and Clemson-Ohio State in New Orleans.
The fight against Irish football only crashes on the ACC couch this season, which has been turned on its head by a pandemic. However, the conference will cash two checks for $ 6 million for two semi-finalists.
While the final call for the committee went to Notre Dame or Texas A&M, it was Ohio State's inclusion after a six-game season that was getting most of the anger of fans and some not-so-subtle second guesses from coaches seemed to pull.
"I think the games are important," said Clemson's Dabo Swinney. "The mental and physical strain of a season - there's no one out there who would say that someone who played 11 games is physically better than someone who played six or anything because it's a long season."
The committee was all-in on the Buckeyes and their limited schedule, but not that keen on Indiana (6-1) with seven games played.
The Hoosiers' best season in decades earned them only one Outback Bowl offer against a Mississippi team with a record loss. Indiana was number 7 in the final AP regular season rankings. The CFP held the Hoosiers at 11 behind Iowa State (8-3), Georgia (8-2) and Florida (8-3).
Indiana trainer Tom Allen took the main drag.
"There will be a time and a place to address this," Allen said. "I don't think this is the time or the place. We look forward to going to Tampa."
Indiana seemed to suffer at least a little from the kind of branding bias so many outside of the Power Five conferences complain about.
It couldn't be more clear that teams at the so-called Group of Five conferences will never get more than the essentials that the CFP provides.
A seat in the six Big Ticket Bowl games is reserved for the senior conference champion of the Group of Five. That's all these leagues have ever gotten. No teams in the semifinals. No teams getting a general bid on any of the dazzling games played on New Years Day.
If not this strange time of year, then when?
If the fourth-place debate is the team that beat Alabama at 28 (Texas A&M) or Team Clemson at 24 (Notre Dame), why not give the undefeated Cincinnati a jump? Instead, the Bearcats finished eighth behind Oklahoma (8-2) and Florida.
Louisiana-Lafayette, the team that defeated Iowa State by 17 points, finished 19th on the committee's rankings. Coastal Carolina, the only team to defeat Louisiana-Lafayette, finished 12th.
While ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit suggested that the group of five conferences "take to the streets" instead of making a fuss, changes rarely come about when asked politely.
The College Football Playoff is expanding. This is unlikely to happen until after the current 12-year television deal with ESPN expires after the 2025 season.
The debates about what the change might look like are already beginning, just not formally. How many teams? How are they selected? Or better, how will you qualify? Where are the games played?
All of this has to be decided, and the more people in college football are unhappy with the current postseason, the better the chances that the broken parts will be fixed.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/.
More AP College Football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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