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First year of playoffs bring a welcome change

It’s always nice to see results that confirm what your instincts have been telling you for a long time. That’s exactly what happened in Arlington, Texas last night as the first champions of college football’s new playoff system were crowned. As the confetti rained down on the Ohio State Buckeyes, devout football fans across the country were aware of two things: first, the Buckeyes had proven themselves as the best team in college football; and secondly, they would not have had a chance to do this in the BCS era.
The new college football playoff system may not be perfect – the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University will attest to that – but it is unquestionably a step in the right direction.
The first evidence that these playoffs were a worthwhile change became apparent on New Year’s Day, as the undefeated Florida State Seminoles were completely dismantled by Oregon. The Ducks scored a staggering 59 points on the defending champions, who entered the contest on a 29-game winning streak.
The playoff committee had Florida State ranked as the number three seed, but under the former BCS system, there is little doubt that the Seminoles would have been headed for the championship game. The BCS did not ignore undefeated records and defending champions.
The Alabama Crimson Tide were heavy favorites against Ohio State, a team many people considered fortunate to be in the playoffs at all. Despite being forced to start a third string quarterback, the Buckeyes outplayed the top-ranked Tide and earned a spot in the championship game.
During any other season throughout the past 15 years, viewers would have sat down last night to watch Florida State play Alabama for the coveted Coach’s Trophy. In the new and improved system, those teams didn’t survive round one.
There was always the nagging feeling in year’s past that the votes of coaches and sports writers had too much input in how a champion was decided. While there might not be a perfect solution to determining the best team in the country, it felt great to watch last night’s game knowing the two teams represented had earned their place on the field.