The College Football Playoff Selection Committee announced the four competitors for the national championship Sunday, and there is virtually no controversy. The Clemson Tigers are No. 1, and they will play No. 4 Oklahoma on December 31 in the Orange Bowl. The second selection, Alabama, will play the third team, Michigan State, in the Cotton Bowl the same day. The two winners will play January 11 for the right to be declared the champion.
The committee got it right, just as they got it right last year. This new system put football experts into a room Sunday morning after Saturday's conference playoff games and allowed them to sift through a variety of criteria and argue the relative merits of teams. They use final records, strength of schedule and, most importantly, an evaluation of which teams are playing the best football now.
For years there has been an uproar relating to the rankings of teams. For many years a poll of college football coaches and a poll of reporters made the final determination on rankings. The criteria was never revealed. There were occasions when the two polls selected different teams as No. 1. Non-stop controversy ensued. Angry fans vowed to go to their graves fuming with the injustice of the process. A BCS computer system was employed for several years and provided nothing but discord and dissatisfaction. There was no human input after the computer formula was employed. Fans, coaches and players were enraged by the results.
The current system creates added interest to the season. As the season goes on, weekly ratings of the top four teams are released to the public. The debate begins early, but the play of teams modifies and reshuffles the top four. Conference championship games are factored in. This factor does favor teams and conferences which play for the conference championship. But this year, Oklahoma, which did not have the advantage of an additional win, made the list.
A debate does continue as to whether adding two more contestants would improve the process. There are five superconferences and only four slots. This year the Pac-12 was left out. Stanford is playing at a high level but has two losses. Ohio State is a talented team, but lost to Michigan State. Adding two more teams is a future possibility.
For the first time in years, this committee has provided a logical system for deciding who the most worthy teams to compete for the national championship. The NCAA basketball team has a field of 64 plus 4, and there still is controversy. The whole country can agree that in a complicated mine field of talented competitors, this system is the best yet. New Year's Eve will be filled with consensus football excitement.
-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @leighsteinberg.