How Barack Obama helped start the college football playoffs

The 45th President of the United States is currently making headlines since his plans of attending this year’s college football national championship game in Atlanta on Jan. 8 surfaced. The game features the No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the rankings, something that wouldn’t have been a possibility six years ago.

The Bowl Championship System (BCS) came to fruition in 1998. The system was designed to not only give big schools but also mid-major schools an opportunity to play for the national championship. However, the only team not from a big conference to play in the championship was the independent Notre Dame, which lost to Alabama in the 2012 championship. Critics began to point out the obvious flaw in the system: Schools from bigger conferences always got the benefit of the doubt over smaller schools, no matter how much better the small school’s records were.

One of the more influential critics was President Barack Obama.

“I think any sensible person would say that if you’ve got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season and many of them have one loss or two losses, there’s no clear decisive winner, we should be creating a playoff system,” Obama said in a 2008 interview on 60 Minutes. “Eight teams, that would be three rounds to determine a national champion. It would add three weeks to the season, you could trim back on the regular season. I don’t know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I’m going to throw my weight around a little bit, I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Six years later, with two years left in his term, Obama got to witness the first-ever College Football Playoff season, which still receives criticism today. The current playoff doesn’t feature the eight teams that Obama recommended, but four teams. No. 10 UCF defeated No. 7 Auburn, who beat both national finalist UGA and Alabama this season, 34-27 in the Peach Bowl to finish a 13-0 season. To celebrate the undefeated season, the Knights proclaimed themselves the national champions, reigniting the debate of adjusting the system that allows non-major conference team a chance to play in the big game.

Rashad Milligan
Rashad Milligan

Rashad Milligan is the sports editor at the Valley Times-News in Lanett, Alabama. He was once a news reporter at the Douglas County Sentinel and the sports editor for Georgia State's student newspaper, The Signal.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply