SMQ's arguments in favor of a playoff in the debate with Kyle King are among the best I have ever read. SMQ says everything I ever thought about the need and purpose of a playoff but had never been able to put it to words so well in my own debates with Kyle and others. I cannot even begin to understand why anyone would oppose a playoff on the grounds that the best team may not lay claim to the label "champion" while touting opinion deciding who is the champion just because the champion can claim the unverifiable label of "best team" when identifying the best team has never been the purpose served by competition.
That said, I take issue with SMQ's concession that subjectivity is necessarily needed to determine playoff participants and seeds. The fact that teams have dissimilar schedules does not preclude college football from determining the values of each team's season in a completely objective manner. With objective rules, Resume A always beats Resume B given the exact same results. However, with subjective rules, there is no way to know that a selector won't vote in favor of the same team even if they traded resumes with another. In this instance and in many others, who wins the better seeds and final playoff berths has nothing to do with what actually occurred on the field of play.
Take the objective rules I devised for this very purpose. Ideally, teams would play an equal number of regular season games versus I-A competition only and their schools would be directly influenced by the rules when it comes to scheduling. Yet, despite none those conditions existing, the results compared to the polls are very comparable. During the past 30 years, the first place under the rules I devised has won or shared the mythical title 18 straight years, 23 of 24 years, and 26 of 30 years. On average, these rules and the AP have agreed on 3 of 4 top four teams, 6 of 8 top eight teams, 10 of 12 top twelve teams, and 14 of 16 top sixteen teams The difference is that no one can dispute the results based on objective rules even if they have problems with the rules themselves whereas subjective rules define disputed as any team on the outside looking in can adopt any argument to justify their inclusion. Even if there are reasons the same rules used by other sports to determine their playoff particpants and seeds are not practical for college football, it doesn't follow that all possible objective rules are impractical. The rules I speak of here only need wins and losses and opponents' wins and losses to separate any two teams more than 99% percent of time. Ultimately, where teams rank only comes down to results that occurred on the football field.
This year, my system and the AP agreed on 14 of the top 16 teams. My system favored South Florida and BYU whereas the AP favored Tennessee and Clemson. My system can tell everyone the exact difference between any two places and the least that needed to happen for any team to gain any desired ranking. Other than more voters simply holding opinions favorable to USF and BYU, we have no idea what the least these teams needed to do to gain the pollsters' favor. In fact, despite USF owning a better record, opponents' record, and head-to-head win over Auburn, the Tigers actually finished the regular season ranked higher in the AP. I don't claim the rules I advocate here won't produce politically incoorect results, but at least the rules explain the results. There is nothing about polls that explains this result or even suggests pollsters put much thought into it.
Ultimately, the biggest problem I see when it comes to advocating objective rules is that so many are quick to dismiss any rules that produce any results that contradict their subjective values based on a different standard. The idea that objective and subjective values are suppose to agree is absurd. No one believes that beating the best and worst NFL teams are subjectively equal accomplishments, but no ever objects to those same results having equal objective values. An athletic competition involving several games is really no different than an individual game. The rules exist simply determine a winner. Whether or not anyone would favor the same rules I do, the results only say that this team beats that team according to these particular rules. As an example, I can tell everyone that based on these rules, a 9-3 season versus 72-72 opponents always beats an 8-4 season versus 68-76 opponents. Always. Doesn't it make more sense to know who would win given all possible scenarios before a single game is played rather play all games then have a selection committee tell us who won via a vote influenced by as many standards as there are committee members in which no member could ever guarantee that they would value the same seasons more if posted by another team? As an example of this, earlier this year, after losing at home to Stanford, the Trojans remained ranked higher than an unbeaten South Florida team that had posted a road win versus Auburn. My problem isn't that USC's resume at that point was valued more, but rather the fact that the same two teams would have ranked in the same order even if they traded resumes. As such, USC wins not because of what happened on the field but rather because they are USC. That is absurd. The rules, whatever they may be, should tell us beforehand what makes for a better resume and reward the owner of said resume with a higher ranking rather than the name team with the better talent regardless of what actually occurs on the playing field.