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CFB Playoff Selections

When comparing two teams with the same record, the Elite Program will get in over the non-elite program.

Five years into the College Football Playoff, and no committee selections fall outside of the Eliteness system described on this site. Eliteness continues to accurately explain our collective perception of why we think one team is more deserving than another. Below are the first 5 years of CFP Committee selections along with comparisons of the media perspective and eliteness perspective of why these teams were chosen.

As I explained in the “Overview,” it has to work this way. Until we can all honestly accept that previous year’s results matter, there will be both controversy and the appearance of injustice. Perhaps that sells and is what the powers that be want. However, the non-elites will be able to recognize the injustice, but not recognize what they have to do moving forward to be selected (see the UCF AD’s verbal attack of the CFP Committee and then his refusal to schedule Florida).

We are starting to have enough evidence to attempt to cobble together a pecking order amongst Elite Programs.  With more elite matchups than ever before, I have begun fine tuning the Program Points System to attempt to meet that need down the road. I put no validity into the points system at this time, but I have included the points rankings here anyway. I’ll stress again that the far more important distinction is between eliteness and non-eliteness.

Here are the 5 years of the CFP Playoff committee’s selections and seeding with the Elite Points (EP) Standings in parentheses.

2014

  • Playoff Teams: 1. Alabama 12-1 (EP #2), 2. Oregon 12-1 (EP #12), 3. Florida State 13-0 (EP #1), 4. Ohio State 12-1 (EP #5)
  • Left Out: 5. Baylor 11-1 (Non-Elite), 6. TCU 11-1 (Non-Elite)

Media perspective: Ohio State got in over Baylor and TCU because “the Big 12 doesn’t have a championship game.” The very next year that logic would not hold up.

Eliteness perspective: All teams with 1 loss. 4 Elite Programs were selected over 2 Non-Elite Programs.

2015

  • Playoff Teams: 1. Clemson 13-0 (Non-Elite), 2. Alabama 12-1 (EP #3) 3. Michigan State 12-1 (EP #6)  4. Oklahoma 11-1 (EP #8)
  • Left Out: 5. Iowa 12-1 (Non-Elite) 6. Stanford 11-2 (#12)

Media perspective: Oklahoma gets in over Iowa, even without there being a Big 12 Championship game. So now, Iowa was left out because they lost the Big 10 Championship game. The very next year that logic would not hold up.

Eliteness perspective: Non-elite Clemson was the only undefeated team. 3 Elite Programs with 1 loss were selected over 1 Non-Elite with 1 loss and Stanford, an EP, with 2 losses.

2016

  • Playoff Teams: 1. Alabama 13-0 (EP #1), 2. Clemson 12-1 (EP #5), 3. Ohio State 11-1 (EP #2) 4. Washington 12-1 (Non-Elite)
  • Left Out: 5. Penn State 11-2 (Non-Elite), 6. Michigan 10-2 (Non-Elite)

Media perspective: Split on this one. Non-division winner, Ohio State, got in over Big 10 Champion, Penn State, whom they lost to on the field. Then, on top of that, they are the #3 seed over Pac 12 Conference Champion, Washington. In the CFP you saw Clemson blow out Ohio State 31-0.

Eliteness perspective: This year may be the most validating for the system. Elite Program and non-division winner, Ohio State, gets in over a team they lost to on the field, non-elite Penn State. Ohio State is also seeded ahead of Pac-12 Championship Game winner and non-elite, Washington.

2017

  • Playoff Teams: 1. Clemson 12-1 (EP #2) 2. Oklahoma 12-1 (EP #5) 3. Georgia 12-1 (Non-Elite) 4. Alabama 11-1 (EP #1)
  • Left Out: 5. Ohio State 11-2 (EP #3), 6. Wisconsin 12-1 (Non-Elite)

Media perspective: Split on this one. Non-division winner, Alabama, in the exact same position that Ohio State was in the previous year, gets in over Big 10 Champion, Ohio State, and runner up, Wisconsin.

Eliteness perspective: An Elite Program with 1 loss gets in over an Elite Program with 2 losses in Ohio State and a non-elite program with 1 loss in Wisconsin. Georgia, a non-elite, gets in and gets the #3 seed as the champion of the EP at #4’s conference.

2018

  • Playoff Teams: 1. Alabama 13-0 (EP #1), 2. Clemson 13-0 (EP #6), 3. Notre Dame 12-0 (Non-Elite), 4. Oklahoma 12-1 (EP #2)
  • Left Out: 5. Georgia 11-2 (EP #3) 6. Ohio State 12-1 (EP #4)

Media perspective: Most college football fans probably thought Georgia was the 2nd or 3rd best team, but OU and Notre Dame got in over them. Some in the media think leaving a 2nd SEC team out was a move the committee made to “save the CFP system.” This is one year after they did put 2 SEC teams in and they both won in the semi-finals and made the championship game. Ohio State was a distant #6 seed.

Eliteness perspective: You have 2 undefeated Elite Programs as the #1 and #2 seeds. An undefeated non-elite, Notre Dame, and a 1 loss Elite, Oklahoma, got in over a 2 loss elite program, Georgia.