There are only a few weeks left in the 2015 college football regular season, with conference championships and the final games taking place over the first week of December. For many teams, there are only two or three more opportunities to impress pollsters, and the computers, and the selection committee that holds the biggest sway in determining how the postseason field looks in the new system.
We can’t really say how the College Football Playoff selectors will treat losses by Stanford and Utah and LSU, or how they will assess the Oklahoma-Baylor showdown, or whether close calls by Oklahoma State and TCU will affect the pecking order. This, of course, is because we categorically rejected a continuation of the Bowl Championship Series methodology as a means of selecting which teams play one another in the top echelons of the postseason.
Was this really the best way of ushering in a new era, though? As we have seen, the difference between what the selection committee puts out as its top 25 and the lists compiled by the Associated Press and from among the coaches is rarely that radically different. The past few weeks have shown little variance between what the selectors are choosing to be the top four teams and what the old calculations would have spit out, bringing into question just why we need to leave a playoff process up to a dozen people sitting in a room making up their own poll as they go.
We need look no further than last season, when the inaugural selection process saw Ohio State elevated at the 11th hour beyond a pair of Big 12 champions almost exclusively because the Big Ten has a conference championship game and the Big 12 does not. There is no consistent methodology articulated by the selection committee from week to week as it reveals its selections in a made-for-TV farce every Tuesday.
There is not even consistent methodology applied from team to team; where the Buckeyes get the benefit of the doubt from the eyeball test week after week, a team like North Carolina is consistently penalized for essentially the same schedule strength despite playing an equivalently easy cast of characters as Ohio State. At least during the BCS era (or at least after the 2004 overhaul of the system), love it or not, there was a clear and consistent formula that one could observe and calculate to transparently see at any given moment where his or her favorite team stood in the hierarchy.
We have no such tool now, which leaves this exercise of nostalgia as the only way to gauge what might have been in a system that grafted the transparency and quantitative objectivity of the BCS with the four-team field provided by the CFP. With that in mind, here are what the numbers and the pecking order would look like if the BCS still reigned supreme as the means of determining the most deserving playoff teams of the year.