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2023: The Last Ride of the Mythical National Championship

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

2023 will mark the end of an era.

Many of you are probably thinking, “What is he talking about? Is it because the conference realignment is about to hit its zenith? Or because the postseason is about to change forever?” The answer is the latter.

2023 marks the end of the mythical national champion.

I can already hear the Alabama and Notre Dame fans screaming, “How dare he say our national championships are mythical!” Well, I will explain the reason why, along with a plethora of examples.

For most of my life, I was never really a college football fan. For one, I lived in New Jersey, where the concept of rooting for a college you didn’t attend was foreign because of how many pro teams we have. Second, I went to Seton Hall for college, which didn’t have a college football team.

Beyond those two reasons, I could never wrap my head around how uneven the playing field is in college football. In other sports, everyone has a chance. In college football, unless you are at certain schools you have no chance of competing.

In college football, most teams are realistically eliminated from contention before the season simply due to the quality of the rosters. In no other sport, however, are the majority of the teams in the league eliminated automatically before the season even starts because of the system that is in place to keep the status quo.

I can already hear people saying, “But the College Football Playoff fixed that.” Did it? Only once did a Group of Five team make it into the Playoff, and that was because the selection committee didn’t have a choice.

If there were any other undefeated teams and if it was a stronger year for the Power Five, the committee would have made an excuse to keep them out.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some other examples.

In 2016, an undefeated Western Michigan was left out of the 4-team Playoff field for an 11-1 Ohio State team that lost to Penn State.

The following year, the most egregious of these snubs happened. Undefeated UCF was left out in favor of an 11-1 Alabama.

The following year, UCF was left out again while undefeated. Although, all of the teams who did get in deserved it by either winning a conference championship or finishing with an undefeated record.

2020 was the worst of these: Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, and San Jose State were all undefeated and didn’t get a chance to compete.

Due to the chaotic nature of that season, some may choose to excuse the 2020 season from this list. However, it still shows a problem with the system as a whole.

Even last year, there was no guarantee that TCU, a Power 5 program, would have made the playoff due to “program prestige.” They lucked out that there was not a stronger Power Five team.

The uneven playing field is a significant problem in the current system, and the new system starting in 2024 will finally fix this problem.

This problem starts when over half of the teams in FBS are eliminated before the season’s first snap, due simply to outside factors that the team can not control; the conference they are in, the history of the program, or the number of fans they possess.

Sports should not be a popularity contest. Popularity should have no determination on the schools in the playoff field. For example, the most exciting part of March Madness is seeing the “Cinderella” take down the powerhouse.

Now college football will finally join the 20th, let alone the 21st century. The NCAA will crown the first-ever FBS National Champion in 2025.


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