Penn State isn’t a brand name? I’d argue PSU, recent difficulty notwithstanding, has much more cachet and history than U-Dub. And Michigan is absolutely a brand name, any time, any year.
This year was clearly the most difficult selection process the CFP committee has faced (yes, worse than the TCU-Baylor mess). You had three teams that are clearly superior (Bama, Clemson, tOSU) using the eyeball test. Yet one of those three is NOT a conference champ, so there was that factor. Then you had four teams that were pretty close for that fourth spot. Three were conference champs (U-Dub, PSU and OU), one wasn’t (Michigan). Michigan beat PSU, badly, PSU beat tOSU, tOSU beat Michigan. PSU also lost to four-loss Pitt (which also beat Clemson). tOSU hammered OU at home.
Would OU be in if they’d played Sam Houston State instead of Houston in its opener? Maybe. Would Penn State be in if they’d made Michigan work at all? Possible. But they didn’t.
And there’s a big contingent of people who think nobody who doesn’t win their conference should ever make the playoffs. Which is baloney. The NCAA basketball tournament was an afterthought (or just the UCLA Invitational) until they started taking at-large teams. The CFP learned that lesson early. If the second best team in the country finished second in the Big Ten, take them. And they did. I don’t like the Yuckeyes, Urban Blight or the backup WR who shall not be named, but they clearly pass the eye test. They should be in the playoffs.
Expand the playoffs? The easy – and wrong – way out. Particularly if you tie it to the five conference champs (and then you’d probably have to put in a Group of Six champ too). OU isn’t in the playoffs because they’re not deserving. They’re not as good as tOSU (as we saw), or Clemson, or Bama, or U-Dub.
I like the four team setup for now. Eight teams would require starting before Christmas, or home fields, or probably both. I don’t think Penn State at Washington would be a workable first round matchup, not to mention Michigan would play at Ohio State, again, in late December. And 16 would be a complete mess.