CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Coastal Carolina University’s incoming president joining in a chorus of criticism College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
CCU President-elect Dr. Michael T. Benson, who assumes office on Jan. 1, penned an open letter Wednesday addressed to the committee and its chair, University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta. It comes days after the unbeaten Chanticleers were denied a bid to play in a New Year’s Six bowl.
“As committee members, you are in a difficult — and in many ways, thankless — position, and I appreciate your efforts and service,” he wrote. “You are the stewards of the current college football playoff system, and the intent of this letter is certainly not to ‘pile on’ criticism nor is it to be bitter or vindictive. There are plenty of folks on social media who will do that. But with all due respect, something has to change.”
Benson went on to accuse the deck of being stacked against smaller FBS programs, known collectively as the Group of Five, in the selection process. He compared it to other recent stories of smaller schools excelling in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
“For all the drama that March Madness basketball presents each and every year with the Cinderella stories of Butler or Loyola of Chicago or George Mason making the Final Four, what is currently in place for football is completely devoid of any comparable suspense and excitement. Or, for that matter, fairness,” he said.
Coastal came in at No. 12 in the committee’s final rankings despite an unbeaten record, two wins over ranked opponents and being declared co-champions of the Sun Belt Conference.
The team missed out on an automatic bid to a New Year’s Six game behind No. 8 Cincinnatti, who won the American Athletic Conference and also finished their season unbeaten. Per the rules of the committee, the highest-ranked conference champion from the Group of Five is given an automatic bid to one of these major bowl games.
However, the 9-0 Bearcats were ranked behind Power Five teams with multiple losses such as No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 7 Florida. No. 5 Texas A&M, who just missed out on the national semifinals, also has a loss to No. 1 Alabama on its record.
“Coastal Carolina and the University of Cincinnati have every right to be absolutely flabbergasted by both the results of the rankings, but also the flawed logic the committee used to arrive at their conclusions,” Benson wrote. “I believe Cincinnati earned a spot in the playoff. And I also believe the Chanticleers were not respected when it came to bowl selection.”
Benson later called the Chants’ first-ever bowl appearance this weekend “a spectacular accomplishment for a university in only its fourth year of FBS football and for which we are very grateful.”
He also criticized the bowl selection process at large, asking why several SEC teams with losing records were immediately invited to play in bowl games and not an Army team with nine wins.
The Black Knights later accepted a bid to replace Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl against West Virginia.
“The lack of fairness inherent in the current system — a system driven by money as its master— must be addressed,” Benson concluded. “You know it as well as I do; it’s not right nor is it American.”
No. 9 Coastal Carolina faces No. 23 Liberty in the Cure Bowl on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.