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Why Four Teams Dominate the College Football Playoff


The iron grip of a few programs on the #College #Football #Playoff is so strong that this season, it even survived a modern-day plague.

#Alabama, #Clemson, #Ohio #State and that plucky #No. 4 seed, #Notre #Dame, withstood coronavirus-ravaged 2020 and emerged again atop the sport. #Alabama-Notre #Dame and #Clemson-Ohio #State will face off in the semifinals on #New #Year’s #Day.

#If the teams sound familiar, it’s no wonder. #Notre #Dame has made the playoff twice since the format’s 2014-15 launch. #Alabama, #Clemson, #Ohio #State and #Oklahoma, which finished sixth in this year’s rankings, have grabbed 20 of the playoff’s 28 all-time slots.

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#Money explains a lot. #Recent years have brought ballooning TV-rights deals, worth billions annually, mostly to the so-called #Power 5 conferences that generate the most revenue and win all the titles. #Wealth is only part of the reason, however, why the playoff has become the most exclusive club in sports.

#Top coaches have stayed with their teams or groomed worthy successors, providing a pivotal edge in program and player development. #In the playoff era, nonplayoff bowls have receded in the national conversation. #Perhaps most important, the playoff has strengthened a recruiting feedback loop, keeping talent flowing to the programs that are already winning.

#Teams #Rich in #Players #Get #Richer

The #New #England #Patriots dominated the NFL in recent years. The #Golden #State #Warriors have won more than their share of NBA titles. #But those leagues have 32 and 30 teams, respectively. #Major-college football has 130.

#Perpetual-Talent #Machine

#Teams that frequent the #College #Football #Playoff dominate recruiting rankings

2021 #Recruiting class ranking

1.

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#Alabama

#Ohio #State

#Georgia

LSU

#Clemson

#Oregon

#Texas A&M

#Our #Lady

#Oklahoma

#Florida

#Schools with playoff appearances but not in top 10 of recruiting rankings

#Florida #State

#Washington

#Michigan #State

#Only 11 college programs can tell recruits they’ve reached the playoff. #Only four teams can say they’ve won it all. #That appears to be creating a novel recruiting advantage.

“In the NFL, the team that wins the #Super #Bowl gets the last pick in the first round and the last pick in the second round, so they try to help the bad teams,” said #Steve #Spurrier, the former #Heisman #Trophy-winning quarterback and coach at #Florida who’s now an athletic department ambassador.

“In college football, #Alabama gets the first 10 picks in the first round, the first 10 picks in the second round and then about the first five in the third round. #And then they say, ‘Alright, the rest of you guys, y’all can get the rest of them.’ #And then #Clemson gets a bunch of them, and then #Ohio #State and so forth.”

#Spurrier’s 1996 #Florida team holds a distinction some find worrisome: #It was the last first-time national champion. #Each title winner since already had a championship. #That streak will continue this season.

CFP executive director #Bill #Hancock said the sport’s top teams are merely in a cycle of strength that’s been seen before—with #Army in the 1940s, #Oklahoma in the 1950s, and later with #Nebraska and #Florida #State.

The #Postseason #Marquee #Is #Shrinking

#Justin #Fields and #Ohio #State played #Clemson in last season’s #College #Football #Playoff #Semifinal.


#Photo:

#Norm #Hall/Getty #Images

#College football’s championship game is as popular as ever. #Last year’s title game drew 26 million TV viewers, same as the championship the year before the playoff was launched.

#Yet nonplayoff bowl games have lost luster.

A 1984 #Supreme #Court decision paved the way for bloat. The court ruled the NCAA could no longer limit the number of college football games on TV. #Athletic conferences took control, and the number of televised games and bowl games exploded.

#In the early 1990s, an alliance of top conferences began morphing one bowl matchup each year into a national championship game. The effort culminated in the #Bowl #Championship #Series, which eventually included the title game plus four other bowls—five heavily promoted events that gave 10 teams bragging rights.

#Fans decried the BCS’s baroque selection formula of computer rankings and human polls, but their viewing habits suggested they loved it.

#In 2013-14, the last year of the BCS, the non-championship #Sugar, #Orange and #Fiesta #Bowls combined to draw an audience of nearly 39 million, according to the website #Sports #Media #Watch. #Last year three #College #Football #Playoff secondary games, the #Sugar, #Orange and #Cotton #Bowls, combined for 22.5 million viewers.

#Although the CFP promotes its games as the #New #Year’s #Six, the four non-semifinal bowls have begun to recede into the background.

“An unintended consequence of the playoff is that the amount of attention has been spread not as widely as it once was, and more of the attention has been spread to those teams that are in the playoff hunt,” said #Greg #McElroy, an ESPN analyst and former #Alabama quarterback. #That heightened attention, #McElroy said, “creates a natural advantage for those teams on the recruiting trail.”

#Hancock said “viewership for postseason college football continues to be strong.”

#Top #Coaches #Get #Paid and #Stay

#Clemson coach #Dabo #Swinney and #Alabama coach #Nick #Saban pose with the #Sugar #Bowl trophy in 2017.


#Photo:

#Gerald #Herbert/Associated #Press

The coaches of perennial playoff teams aren’t just good, they’re #Hall-of-Fame-level elite. #Nick #Saban at #Alabama; #Dabo #Swinney at #Clemson; #Bob #Stoops then #Lincoln #Riley at #Oklahoma; and #Jim #Tressel, #Urban #Meyer and #Ryan #Day at #Ohio #State. (#Brian #Kelly nearly has the most victories in #Notre #Dame history but is still seeking a national title.)

The top coaches are better recruiters and attract and develop better quarterbacks as the position has become crucial to today’s high-scoring offenses. These coaches’ $6 million-$10 million salaries are comparable to what they would earn in the NFL.

#An influx of cash from the playoff, which gave each top conference a base of about $66 million last season, helps fund those salaries. #So do NCAA amateurism rules, which ban athlete compensation beyond tuition, room, board and minor expenses.

“College coaches’ salaries are what they are because you’re not paying players,” said #Brian #Goff, an economics professor at #Western #Kentucky.

#Expansion and #Amateurism

#Clemson made the playoff despite superstar quarterback #Trevor #Lawrence missing two games with #Covid-19.


#Photo:

#Jared C. #Tilton/Getty #Images

#Calls have increased to expand the playoff and give more programs a chance. #No team outside a #Power 5 conference has gotten in, and rancor surged this year when unbeaten #Cincinnati finished #No. 8 despite beating three ranked teams.

The CFP’s #Hancock rejected the notion that lower-earning conferences have no chance, saying: “Every team is equal when the season starts.” The CFP has no imminent plans to expand, and changing the contract, now in year seven of 12, would require unanimous consent of all conferences, ESPN and the bowl games, #Hancock said.

The #Supreme #Court is expected to rule next year in an ongoing battle over whether NCAA player-compensation limits violate antitrust laws. #Allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness could help some programs gain an edge in recruiting. “It also may reinforce the existing hierarchy,” said former #West #Virginia athletic director #Oliver #Luck.

#Meanwhile, the best teams are improving. #Clemson made the playoff despite superstar quarterback #Trevor #Lawrence missing two games with #Covid-19. #Ohio #State needed just six games, about half of its usual schedule, to win over the selection committee.

#Alabama has fixed its only flaw. The #Crimson #Tide, which for years tolerated a below-average kicking game, has been perfect this year. #Placekicker #Will #Reichard is 12 for 12 on field goals, and hasn’t missed an extra point.

#Write to #Rachel #Bachman at #Rachel.#[email protected]

#Copyright ©2020 #Dow #Jones & #Company, #Inc. #All #Rights #Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8



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https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-four-teams-dominate-the-college-football-playoff-11609296213

##Teams ##Dominate ##College ##Football ##Playoff

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