by Matthew Thompson
It has been a while since I have chimed in on the college football season. With the last set of rankings released by the committee before they choose who will be in the playoff, I thought I’d give some thoughts on where the season is at and how the new playoff system is shaping up.
With conference championships still ahead of us, there is a lot that can still happen. Some of my issues may sort of resolve themselves, but I don’t like how the CFB Playoff Selection Committee has approached things so far. I think the biggest problem for me at the moment is the TCU/Baylor debate. I thought for most of the year that if Baylor won out and ended up with the same record as TCU they would be ahead of them in the rankings due to their head-to-head win. But with TCU’s move to number 3, the committee seems to have put them in a spot that Baylor simply can’t overtake without the Horned Frogs losing another game. The Big XII hasn’t really helped matters here by abstaining from choosing a conference champion. If they used head-to-head as a tiebreaker to crown Baylor, then the committee would have to consider that edge for Baylor. But as co-champions they can avoid having to use that criteria however illogical it might seem. The Big XII is probably just afraid of hurting TCU’s chances by using the tiebreaker themselves which could keep the conference from getting a team at all since Baylor is currently ranked behind Ohio State as well.
It seems to me that the best argument for choosing TCU over Baylor is that you simply think they are a better team. This is one of the reasons Jeff Long when speaking for the committee floated out for having TCU ahead. To me I don’t think we can merely put the “best” four teams in the playoff because it is too subjective. Maybe at that point we just put Alabama in every year regardless of losses. They will probably have top four talent and coaching for the next few years, so why not? It just can’t work that way. That is why I think it is important to choose teams for the playoff based on how “good” they are and how deserving they are. Then it becomes simpler. Surely it is possible for a team to lose head-to-head to a worse team. Upsets happen. But we have to respect them when all other things are equal. And while there is a non-conference schedule disparity between Baylor and TCU, I don’t think it is enough to outweigh the head-to-head win regardless of where it was played or how it played out. We need to respect that win.
I also have issues with Florida State’s ranking. I think moving them is mostly posturing by the committee. I don’t think if they simply had to pick two teams they would have dropped FSU out of the top two. And I don’t think regardless of who they think is better they would drop them out of the top four. This kind of leads to the inconsistency of their determining factors for moving a team up or down. Sometimes it is game control. Sometimes it is quality wins. Sometimes it is head-to-head. And in FSU’s case sometimes it feels like a quality loss is more important to them than finding a way to win a game against a lesser opponent. It would be a lot easier to take the committee seriously if they had a consistent system for how they rank the teams even if I disagreed, but they are all over the place with how the choose.
Ultimately I think we should be using the regular season as a playoff before the playoff where best records, conference championships and head-to-head matchups play a huge role in determining the final four. Assuming the top six all won this weekend, I think FSU, Alabama and Oregon should obviously be in. The final debate should be between Ohio State and Baylor. I think then it becomes kind of a “Who do you think is better” debate since they aren’t as easily compared as TCU and Baylor. I think I’d lean Baylor over OSU, but if it went the other way I’d be fine. I’m not sure I’d feel that bad for the team left out because of their respective losses. Having said that, I’m guessing if TCU wins, the committee will put them in and that is one result that would rub me the wrong way due to the reasoning I stated earlier.
As for the seeding, I am a little less up in arms about it. It is most important that we get the right teams. As a Seminole fan, I’d certainly like to be number 1, but if not there is a strong argument for being in the best position at number 4. It would keep us closer to home in the Sugar Bowl in a fairly neutral location against Alabama instead of what may feel like an away game at the Rose Bowl against Oregon. I also feel Oregon is slightly better, so playing Alabama despite their higher ranking might not be so bad.
There is still a lot of football to be played in this final weekend though. And once everything shakes out and the playoff teams are chosen, I will be back with another look at how it all turned out. Thanks for reading!