Except, they're not. Case in point.
Chair: Houston has done 'all it can' via scheduling to deserve playoff consideration. Jon Solomon, CBS Sports
In a way, we're right back to where we were in the old poll system. Before computers and the B(C)S and it's rigging to favor the SEC, there was the AP and UPI polls which determined a National Champion based on the "eye test" of either supposed 'sage' college football writers or various university SID's filling out polls and submitting them under the coach's names. (How the so-called "coaches" poll worked, and still works for that matter)
No one really knew, for sure, who the number one team in all of the land was because it was only settled in the minds of writers who probably only paid attention to around 25 percent (each) of the college football played every year.
True, in today's Internet and new-media saturated age it's possible to consume more college football, but we're still back to the bad old days when a group of supposed "experts" sit around and decide, based largely on the eye-test, who the best team in the country really is.
And, OF COURSE, each committee member is taking prior years' performance into account. You have to. If they weren't then Houston and Western Michigan would not be separated by such a large gap. (although I'm betting that gap narrows when the first CFP poll comes out)
For their part, the CFP Committee is trying to do it's level best to soften the blow should UH go undefeated and then get left out of the playoff, which is what I think is going to happen, even IF the Cougars dominate the Cardinals.
The ONLY way to determine a "true national champion" is to settle it on the field, absent voters or polls or *shudder* selection committees.
The ONLY way to fix this mess is to expand the playoff to 10 teams, with six play-in games and 4 byes. Win your conference championship (however your conference chooses to determine it) and you're in.
The best part? This would only add one round to the existing system. At most, it would mean that a team has to play one more game. (should a seed 5-10 make it to the championship game.) You would play this outside of the existing bowl system, allowing the bowls to take the conference runners-up to preserve their existing conference ties.
This needs to be done sooner rather than later because what we're getting stuck with now is the hubris of a few people with skins in the game acting as if they are nothing more than impartial observers. It's also depriving over half of Division 1 schools the opportunity to compete for a title. This is wrong and it should be fixed.
One last point: Former USC Athletic Director Pat Hayden was on the CFP Committee until last year.
What does THAT tell you about the current mess that we're in?