A letter to the CFB Committee

Dear College Football Playoff selection committee,

This time last year, you were nothing more than an idea—a grand experiment college football fans had been salivating over for the better part of a decade. Last night, the NCAA brought you into the world, and your first set of rankings with it.

And although I can't wait for the first-ever College Football Playoff, I couldn't help but feel uneasy as I watched your top 25.

Firstly, why are you even releasing a weekly top 25 to begin with? College basketball has a selection committee just like you, and they stay out of sight and out of mind until Selection Sunday. This prevents the constant second-guessing of a week-to-week poll that begins with five full weeks left of the season—especially when teams ranked fifth through 25th are useless when it comes to determining the ultimate playoff field.

But when I first saw your rankings, I realized why you would submit yourself to such scrutiny. The selection special began with a dramatic shot of your board room and a made-for-TV voiceover. ESPN is paying nearly $500 million per season for the next 12 years to broadcast the three College Football Playoff games. This small price tag affords the worldwide leader in sports the rights to turn an otherwise-mundane Tuesday night telecast into a half-hour blockbuster of punditry and debate.

Last year, the BCS standings were determined by a set of objective criteria—a complex algorithm that combined traditional college football polls with a slew of rankings generated by computers. The system was undoubtedly flawed, but the nation's primary problem with it was that it was nearly impossible to understand, regardless of how much transparency existed.

Now that the College Football Playoff exists, your 12 members are the only ones who can see into the crystal ball. College football's new rankings are a step up from the BCS—emphasizing head-to-head matchups, conference champions and strength of schedule over meaningless blowout victories—but they are still wrought with subjectivity.

I'm not even mad that you ranked Duke 24th in your first poll—even if that is horribly unoriginal considering both the Associated Press and USA TODAY have them in the same slot. I wouldn't expect you to have actually seen the Blue Devils play, anyway, and you probably won't barring another run to the ACC championship.

Just like the computers could never get the BCS standings right, you, College Football Playoff selection committee, will still never get your rankings right. It seems that the only difference since you came into the world is that human error has replaced computer error. If that helps college football fans sleep better at night, so be it—but that doesn't mean the system is fixed.

The only difference is that this year, finally, college football's national champion will be determined on the field, not on a computer screen. Four teams will have the opportunity to play for the nation's top prize and the goal is that with the highest stakes ever, the level of play will rise with it.

But don't forget that even with a playoff, there will still be teams left on the outside looking in. Under the BCS system, the third-place team would always have the biggest axe to grind—now the burden has been shifted to those who finish fifth and sixth in your final rankings. If the playoffs expand to eight teams in the next few years as expected, do you think teams No. 9 and 10 will be thrilled?

In many ways, you don't have the solution to all of college football's problems. Rather, you have found a creative and more exciting way to repackage them.

Don't worry, none of this stuff will actually keep me from tuning in and watching you release your rankings every week. Just like the rest of the nation, I'm a tad bit obsessed. Maybe that's the reason why college football fans will continue to treat you like the baby of the family—despite all of your flaws, you can do no wrong.

Can't wait to watch you grow up,

Daniel Carp


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