Rozner: NCAA needs 12-team football playoff

From Waco to Fort Worth, the screaming was so loud Sunday afternoon that the 90 miles separating Baylor and TCU might as well have been 90 feet.

Welcome to the first College Football Playoff.

Controversy was certain to accompany any new system that decides a national champion, as it frequently did during the decades of polls, split polls and the BCS.

With the strange decisions made by the 12-member selection committee the last two weeks, first elevating TCU to No. 3 and dropping Florida State to No. 4, and then bumping TCU from the top four entirely Sunday in favor of Ohio State, which crushed Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, there was certain to be loud opposition.

The result is Alabama (1) vs. Ohio State (4) in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon (2) vs. Florida State (3) in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, ignoring No. 5 Baylor and No. 6 TCU, both believing they were more deserving than Ohio State and maybe even Florida State.

Baylor gets the nod over TCU because of head-to-head, but how does TCU fall from 3 to 6 after all it did this week was win in impressive fashion? True, it was against an awful Iowa State team, and both Baylor and TCU fell victim to a bad Big 12 and the lack of a conference title game.

But maybe TCU should have never been at No. 3 in the first place, which is where the committee really messed up.

So we have another year of college football controversy, and there is certainly nothing new about that.

For 16 absurd seasons, the Bizarre Collegiate Sham determined the two teams playing for the national championship of college football, and in too many of those BCS years there were serious fights about whether the two best teams were in the title game.

There was the 2003 split title because the computers put Oklahoma in the championship game after the Sooners were destroyed by Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game, leading to an LSU BCS title and USC as the AP's No. 1 team.

There was unbeaten Auburn left out of the 2004 title game. There was the Alabama-LSU rematch in 2011. There was an argument nearly every year.

The four-team tournament was supposed to end all of that, according to the NCAA, but the minute the first rankings were displayed this year you knew the argument had merely moved from who should be 1-2-3 to who should be 3-4-5.

That was rather predictable.

The Big Ten is horrible and the Ohio State move up is questionable. The continued respect for Florida State is hard to understand. The TCU jump was odd and the TCU drop is baffling. And Baylor handled TCU head-to-head, so they've had problems with the rankings for weeks.

While it won't help the teams that feel wronged this year, the really good news is the system — despite some on the current committee in over their heads — is better now than it's ever been.

The argument over the first two out is much better than argument about who should have been in the title game. Alabama and Oregon, the two best teams in the country, are in the playoff and have been safe for a while.

They should play for the championship and if they don't they have only themselves to blame. This time, no voter, computer, committee or politicking will be at fault.

Eventually, the CFP will expand to eight teams, changing the argument from who should be ranked 3, 4 or 5 to who should be 7, 8 or 9.

The real solution is a 12-team College Football Playoff, with the top four teams getting a bye in the first round. That removes the concern that expanding the playoff removes incentive in rivalry games and diminishes the importance of every Saturday.

Just as it works in — wait for it — the NFL, college coaches would be no less interested in that bye than they were reaching the top two in the BCS.

In the meantime, we'll hear the arguments about who was wronged, and some of those will be spot on, but we're certainly headed in the right direction.


• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM.

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