After years and years of screaming, college football fans were finally granted their wish for a playoff system last season. Four teams entered, but only one team, Ohio State, would escape. The Buckeyes rode an 11-1 regular season and Big Ten Championship all they way to New Orleans, and then Dallas for the program’s eighth claimed national championship.
Ohio State was joined by Alabama, Oregon and Florida State in the inaugural College Football Playoff. And while each team was among the final four, their paths to get to the single-elimination playoff was quite different. Some were easier, while others were more difficult.
For instance, the toughest teams FSU had to play were Clemson and Georgia Tech. Alabama, on the other hand, was faced with an SEC West division that was arguably the toughest in college football history.
Not all is created equal in college football. Each conference presents its own unique hurdles. A 1-loss ACC team is a lot less likely to receive a bid compared to a 1-loss SEC team. Recruiting elite talent out of the midwest is more difficult than teams in the south.
With that in mind, ESPN has ranked the “Easiest Coaching Paths To The Playoff.” The main factors taken into account are: money, scheduling, academics, facilities and recruiting.
Easiest Coaching Paths To The Playoff
- Texas: Endless money; Flagship university in arguably the hottest recruiting spot in America; no conference title game to lose in; one of the nation’s top public universities academic wise
- Florida State: ACC is one of the weaker conferences in college football; in-state recruiting; first-class facilities
- Ohio State: Big Ten is tough, but not the SEC; easy to sell the flagship university of Ohio (great recruiting area) and Big Ten; financial resources
- Oklahoma: Big 12 has no title game; easy to sell one of the premier programs in the country; financial resources
- Clemson: Just like FSU, Clemson competes in the weaker ACC; ability to recruit the south; financial resources
- USC: All the Trojans have to do is roll out of bed and they’ll fall on 5-star recruits; financial resources and championships aplenty reside at USC; Pac-12 schedule is easier to navigate than the SEC
- Notre Dame: Unlike every other team in the country, Notre Dame makes its own schedule, but can also claim a conference in the ACC; financial resources; aside from Alabama, this is college football’s most storied program
- Georgia: Compete in the toughest conference in America, but the SEC East is a cakewalk compared to the SEC West right now; flagship university in the state; easily recruit the south
- Alabama: While Alabama has more money, championships, and history than say Georgia, it has to compete in the grueling SEC West
- LSU: See Alabama, minus some money, championships, and history
Who do you think has the easiest path to the CFP? Sound off below!