Following the 2017 National Championship game, in which the Clemson Tigers of the ACC defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide of the SEC after erasing a 14-0 deficit, questions continue to arise regarding the new era in college football of the Playoff Selection Committee.
On Sunday, December 4, 2016, the committee announced the four teams that would be competing in the third CFP. Alabama would represent the SEC, Clemson the ACC, Ohio State the Big 10 and Washington the Pac 12. Many thought the new system of human selection, which replaced the computing of algorithms by a machine associated with the BCS era, slighted other competitive teams that could have potentially made a run for the CFP National Championship Trophy, such as Penn State and Michigan. The committee also went on to rank an undefeated 13-0 Western Michigan Broncos team, a member of the Mid-American Conference, fifteenth – a spot behind the four-loss Auburn Tigers team. Shortly after, Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier began leading the cause for a special playoff specifically designed for the Group of Five schools.
In an interview with ESPN, Frazier talked about the absolute impossibility of a Group of Five school even being in a national title conversation among the committee members throughout the season, much less actually competing for it. His proposed solution? A playoff exclusive to the Group of Five schools. Frazier believes the move could financially benefit Group of Five schools, while others argue that a separate playoff system could give their lesser known conferences even more exposure than just being guaranteed to play in a New Year’s 6 bowl under current contracts.
The Group of Five includes schools in the American Athletic Conference, Conference-USA, Mid-American Conference, Sun Belt Conference and Mountain West Conference. The last team to win a national championship that was not considered a Power 5 team was the BYU Cougars back in 1984. The best a Group of Five team has ranked under the current CFP system is thirteenth – held by Memphis of the American Athletic Conference in the 2015 initial rankings. This past season, only three teams from these five conferences finished in the top 25 of the College Football Playoff rankings – Western Michigan (13-0) at 15, Temple (10-3) at 24 and Navy (9-3) at 25.