Another Year, Another Controversy, Another College Football Playoff


The 2018-2019 college football season has ended in historic fashion. The Clemson University Tigers became the first Division One team to achieve a record of 15-0 after defeating the University of Alabama Crimson Tide 44-16 in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on January 7, 2019. They are the first team to do this since Pennsylvania University went 15-0 in 1897. Here’s how we got there:

The 2019 College Football Playoff was surrounded with controversy. For the first time in the 5 year existence of the College Football Playoff, a competition that pits the “best” four teams in the nation against each other, there were 3 undefeated teams at the end of the year. Alabama, Clemson, and the Notre Dame University Fighting Irish had all finished with records of 12-0 or better. The problem was that Notre Dame played a vastly different schedule than that of Alabama or Clemson. In football, they play as an Independent, meaning that they don’t play a specific conference of teams or play a conference championship game. They can’t win a conference, because they aren’t in one. Winning conference championships is something that the committee (the coaches and athletic directors who decide who make it into the playoff) values highly, but when Notre Dame goes undefeated, it makes their job tricky. Notre Dame did not play the toughest schedule, but it is difficult to say no to a team without a blemish on their record. Because of this, Notre Dame was ranked #3 in the final College Football Playoff Rankings and went on to face Clemson in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, a semifinal. As for the fourth spot, there was controversy again. The College Football Playoff committee has promised that they are searching for the four BEST teams in football to enter the playoff, and that may not always mean the most deserving. This is where my opinion comes in. The largest problem they had going into the final week of the season was judging between teams who were deserving based on record or championships (Oklahoma, Notre Dame), and the teams that passed the eye test, meaning the team that looked the strongest (Georgia).

The consensus best team in the country throughout the year was the Alabama Crimson Tide. Not only did they prove their worth through their record, they also proved it through looking like a great team, dominating their opponents, and scoring a bunch of points every game. This is why it was so stunning to see the University of Georgia Bulldogs outplay Alabama for a majority of the SEC championship game and almost beat a team who hadn’t been challenged all year. Although they lost the game, they looked like a complete team, one who played great offense, defense, special teams, and they had proved that they could match up with the best. Yet, they had 2 loses, both to very good teams.

The University of Oklahoma Sooners, while deserving as they were Big 12 champions, did not look like a complete team. They were 12-1, but they had played terrible defense all year, and had not proven themselves against teams at the caliber of Alabama. Neither had Notre Dame, as they had played very few high caliber opponents all year. But the committee made the wrong decision, at least at the time. They showed that they value statistics, such as record, over something such as an eye test, or results against the consensus best teams in football. Even though Georgia finished fifth and went on to lose the Sugar Bowl to Texas, at the time of their selection, they had done everything I believe they needed to prove themselves one of the four best teams in the country. Predictably, both Notre Dame and Oklahoma were beaten handedly by their opponents Alabama and Clemson, with Notre Dame looking like they barely deserved to be in the game.

Aside from all of the controversy, the real news is that we have two dynasties in college football. Clemson and Alabama over the last 4 years have proven they are the teams to beat, and no one has been able to do it yet, as they’ve split the last four championships. They’ve met in three of the last four National Championship games, proving that they are consistently at the top of the college football pinnacle. If anyone wants to be successful and call themselves a truly GREAT team, they should model themselves around the way that Clemson and Alabama have built their programs and their teams the past few years. They have both been deserving of every accolade they’ve received, and shown through the greatness of their play that they are the best teams in college football. The argument that it’s getting old, that we see the same teams every year, is just complaints from people who don’t love football. We’ve seen the best teams show that they’re the best teams, every year, and that’s all a college football fan could ask for. The playoff may be flawed, but it’s gotten a bunch right. So congratulations Clemson, you proved that you truly are the best.