Steve Pipps

Hoping College Football Playoff Trophy Not A Sign Of Things To Come

Created on Aug. 10, 2014 5:58 AM EST

The Big 12 began conference play in 1996 with a game between Kansas State and Texas Tech. Two years later in 1998, the BCS was formed, and for 16 seasons the national champions were awarded the AFCA National Championship Trophy, better known as the crystal football.

It’s a majestic trophy that consists of a Waterford crystal football perched on a stand with the words “The Coaches’ Trophy” inscribed below. This trophy has been awarded since 1986. It was the trophy for both the Bowl Coalition (1992-1994) and the Bowl Alliance (1995-1997).

It will still be awarded to the team that sits atop the USA Today Coaches Poll at the end of the season.

But it’s not the same.

With the new era of the College Football Playoff, a new trophy was apparently a must. As you have probably seen, the new trophy was unveiled on July 14. Many people took to Twitter with different comparisons such as a beer tap, ice cream cone or a lipstick case. One person asked if it was the Bat Signal for the new trophy to show up. The most inventive one: Flik’s telescope from the movie "A Bug’s Life."

I can’t argue with any of them, but I can say none of them quite hit the comparison on the head. I have been trying for weeks now and I’m still not sure I have it down. It looks like a child’s toy. It looks as if the creators spent all their time procrastinating and then threw this together in a pinch. It looks too sexual, too erotic. It’s too phallic.

Not to mention, it is needlessly oversized. Standing three feet tall and weighing in at 65 pounds the trophy takes the stance that “bigger is better” to heart. The gold cone-shaped top can be removed from the base and be hoisted up by the victorious team. I would not be surprised if, in the commotion of victory, one of the players jokingly jabs it at another player and inevitably catches heat for somehow setting a bad example and portraying violence when young kids are watching.

Regardless, the trophy just looks bad. When it is so easy to mock a trophy, it loses some of the mystique that surrounds it. No one would mock the Stanley Cup, The Vince Lombardi Trophy or even the FIFA World Cup Trophy. No one was mocking the crystal football.

It leads me to question whether the look of the new trophy is going to be indicative of the CFP, at least in the first year, because it appears unwieldy.

The playoff won’t necessarily be unwieldy in the sense of being too aggressive, too early. Four teams is the best starting number. It’s the test to make sure the grand idea that replaces the BCS isn’t as awful as the hated BCS.

Eventually, that number will jump to eight teams and, hopefully, any kinks will have been worked out, but that is down the road. This season, the playoff could get unwieldy in terms of the selection committee getting everything right the first time.

A computer program cannot be influenced unless you’re Matthew Broderick in "WarGames.". The BCS evaluated other Top-25 lists and ran those results through an algorithm to decide the top teams in the FBS. Winning was everything, and while it still is, the human factor changes the game.

There is no strict algorithm to follow. The human element, which can be influenced, will be in ranking teams according to “strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents, championships won and other factors.”

There are so many factors that the 13-person selection committee has to focus on that you have to wonder how can they possibly get it right? There will always be pushback from teams and fans that feel slighted. It begs the question, is the committee ready for that and can they handle it?

In the long run, there won’t be much change from the BCS in the top teams that make it through. The great teams of the past will probably continue to be great now. The top two teams should be pretty easy, and maybe even the third, but there comes a point where the choice won’t be simple. It’s at that point that mistakes will happen.

I used the word "influence" earlier. I don’t think selection committee members will be influenced in terms of bribes. Members were chosen for a reason. They want to uphold not only their own reputation, but also that of the playoffs.

They can be influenced in different ways. Bob Stoops leads the parade against the SEC’s strength. Who knows how much impact his words are making, but, regardless, they are out there and some people are listening. Stoops gladly takes on the SEC, arguing against the number of conference games that member teams play. He believes the conference isn’t all it’s cracked up to be because certain teams don’t play other power teams every year. His argument isn’t necessarily making its way into selection committee members' ears, but it’s out there and that means other arguments will be too.

They can be influenced by their own thoughts and beliefs, which are deeply ingrained in their way of thinking. It’s obvious that rivalries can get vicious in college football. Recusal process aside, committee members have to make the right choice with a litany of factors impacting their decision without including any bias in their decision. Like I said, unwieldy.

For the first year at least, the trophy will be indicative of how the playoff will play out. There are too many factors to get everything right. We’ll have to wait and see how well the playoff works, but fans should get ready to be just as disappointed as they were in the BCS when their team “unjustly” fell out of the national championship hunt.

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