With one week remaining the College Football Playoff Committee released their rankings and they are as follows:
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Oklahoma State
My initial takeaways: The committee loves the BIG 10, hates the Big 12, and a nightmare scenario could play out that would piss off the entire country.
What if the committee puts both Michigan and Ohio State in the playoff despite neither team even winning their division? Now I’ll be the first to admit that to my eyes, they both look like top 4 teams in the country. (I also think each of them would beat Iowa or Penn State 9 out of 10 times)
However, try explaining that to the rest of the country that believes their own conference deserves a shot. For years the Midwest bitched about SEC bias, and if you switched roles to include two non division winning SEC teams, all hell would break loose across BIG Ten country. Heck, all hell might break loose in BIG Ten country if this scenario plays out. Try explaining to Penn State and Wisconsin why they win but aren’t in…
I also caution people to reference the past as an example of this slippery slope. In 2006, just after the epic “Game of the Century” (#1 Osu vs. #2 Michigan) many people believed a re-match was deserved. And why not? The #2 team lost on the road by the smallest of margins… Well, fast forward to bowl season where Michigan was beat handedly by USC and OSU was stomped in the National Title game by Florida.
Also reference the 2012 National Title game which squared off two SEC foes (Alabama & LSU) The result – Bama rolled to an easy win and LSU never even crossed the 50. This game alone almost set off another Civil War between the North and the South.
My point: The country is full of great teams and varying styles. Until we see one conference face another we don’t really know. Is the BIG Ten the best this year? I would say so, but I also thought the same about the BIG Ten in 2006 and thought the same about the SEC in 2012. In both cases I think I was wrong. Watching conference teams play one another for a majority of the season internally does little to provide contrasting reviews of teams in other conferences externally.
I also see another major flaw with this current system. In some rare instances NOT playing in a title game is better than having to play in one. Take OSU for example – Odds are they’re in. And because they’re in they benefit greatly by sitting on the couch with a bucket of popcorn this weekend. They won’t risk a loss, an injury, and will rest up. Whereas a team like Clemson has everything to lose by playing… In short, Clemson is punished for making it to a Championship.
In the end I think all of this will lead to an extended playoff with less gray area. You will likely see automatic bids for Conference Champions with 2-4 remaining “Wild Card Bids” to be dished out elsewhere. There’s just too many good teams for 4 slots. And the whole “eye test” comment gets old. At some point we need to roll the ball out there and play.
Oh and imagine what will happen if 3 BIG Ten teams get in -Armageddon. There is a slight possibility.