The past week has yielded countless complaints about the College Football Playoff rankings. Among them are that undefeated Cincinnati was left out of the Top 4, while the one-loss Alabama Crimson Tide were not only included in the Top 4, but were vaulted all the way to the No. 2 spot. The masses’ frustration with the latest College Football Playoff rankings is understandable; to the casual observer, it feels like teams who have earned it on the field are left out, while others are getting in merely based on reputation and conference affiliation. But in order to truly assess the College Football Playoff committee’s rankings, we have to discuss what the goal of the committee is and compare it to what the goal of the committee should be.
The committee’s goal right now is something along these lines: Determine who the Top 4 teams are and place them in a playoff scenario with each other in order to find a true national champion. To achieve this goal, the committee evaluates teams based on on-field performance, strength of schedule, head-to-head, and comparison of results against common opponents among teams that are similar.