Friday, June 14, 2024

Army-Navy and the CFP: A Proposal

Well the question has been answered – at least for now. If Army or Navy earn a spot in the new expanded playoff, the committee won’t consider the results of the Army-Navy Game.

What’s the problem?

Traditionally, Selection Sunday occurs on Championship Weekend, the first weekend of December. When it was just a potential New Year’s Six bowl on the line, the committee agreed to reconvene and consider the result of Army-Navy. But now there’s a playoff spot on the line. Additionally, there’s two fewer weeks of preparation for a potential opponent. So the committee wasn’t willing to change their matchups based on the result of the rivalry game.

What’s the new rule?

The main goal for the Academies was to keep the game on its own weekend. Ideally, conference championship games would go away and Army-Navy could go back to the first Saturday in December. That might happen one day, but as long as those games are still massively profitable, I wouldn’t bet on it.

So without a long list of waivers, the only way to give the Army-Navy Game its own weekend and give the committee the timeline it wants is to make the Army-Navy Game irrelevant to the selection. In the event that one of the Academies earns a selection in the playoff based on their 11 regular season games and an American Athletic Conference Championship, a win or loss in the rivalry game won’t affect that selection.

Is this a good thing?

It depends. Most years, the College Football Playoff committee has one variable more important than anything else: number of losses. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it does matter. So taking a potential loss away from the selection is a good thing. The downside is that there will be one less data point for the AAC champion that year. So if you compare a 12-1 C-USA champion to an 11-1 Army or Navy as an AAC champion, the Academy in question might be at a disadvantage.

The quirky, but elegant solution

Unless conference championship games go away, we’re pretty much stuck with this solution. The problem is that Army-Navy is a regular season game in the NCAA regular season window, but the CFP committee makes selections before that window is closed. So there is one possibility which would require NCAA waivers, but could be slightly more elegant given this issue.

Give the Army-Navy Game a 12 game exception. The Division I Manual allows teams to play a maximum of 12 games per year with certain exceptions – conference championships, away games at Hawai’i, bowl games, additional postseason games in the playoffs, etc. Including Army-Navy in this list would allow the Academies to play a full 12 game schedule and a potential championship game before Selection Sunday.

The Committee has now said that they’re going to treat the game as a pseudo-postseason competition. Ask the NCAA to do the same. The Committee would get to see a full résumé from either Army or Navy. Then, Army and Navy would play on the second Saturday of December before rolling to Bowl Season and the playoff.

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HomeSportsArmy-Navy and the CFP: A Proposal

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