CFP Committee Sets Alarming Precedent with Final Rankings

I suppose the College Football Playoff committee got the playoffs right this year.

Following the formula that we have always known, the top four should be some order of Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma, which it is. Georgia’s two losses and Ohio State’s 49-20 loss to Purdue ultimately cost both schools a spot among the final four.

You can make your argument for Ohio State’s wins over Oklahoma’s, but the committee only has a few rules and one of them is that Ohio State better not get blown out by an average team, and the Buckeyes broke that rule for the second year in a row.

To this point, the largest margin of defeat by a playoff team suffered during the season is 23 points, which came in Georgia’s 40-17 loss at No. 10 Auburn last year. The Tigers won the SEC West in 2017, so they were far from average, and the Bulldogs avenged their lone loss by defeating Auburn 28-7 later on in the SEC Championship Game.

I’m not going to argue for Ohio State’s inclusion in the playoffs. I will continue to buy into the fact that no other team has been blown out by a middling team and made it. For me, that’s a hard and fast rule.

And at this point, it is one of just three precedents set by the committee. The first is that if you’re a Power 5 team and you’re undefeated, you’re in, even if you’re Notre Dame. The second precedent is that if you are Alabama, then why didn’t you say so in the first place!

The concerning thing, however, is that the committee continues to move towards an “If it feels good, do it!” set of rules.

The most egregious example of this was Sunday’s placement of a 2-loss Georgia team that didn’t win a conference championship ahead of a 1-loss Ohio State team that did.

A conference championship is supposed to be one of four criteria considered when teams are close. The other three are strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, and comparative outcomes of common opponents.

The committee stated that they went through this rigmarole with Oklahoma, Georgia, and Ohio State all in a group. Oklahoma won out over Georgia because of their conference championship, so that’s something. When it came to OSU, however, their conference championship was trumped by their inconsistent play and loss to an unranked Purdue team.

In other words, “What conference championship?”

Instead, Georgia was placed ahead of Ohio State because they had good wins (over teams that lost 38-17 to Mizzou and 24-7 to Tennessee) and a close loss to Alabama.

If that close loss to Alabama had occurred earlier in the season and their 36-16 loss to LSU happened later in the season, are the Bulldogs still in the conversation? I don’t know what the answer would be, but I know what it should be.

The issue at hand, however, is that if Oklahoma had lost to Texas last week — or to Army in overtime, or in any of their other one-score victories against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, or West Virginia — then the committee appears more than willing to put a 2-loss SEC team without a conference championship in over a 1-loss Power 5 conference champion.

That’s a problem — and it may be leading to a fourth precedent that says, “We’re just gonna do whatever the hell we want.”

The argument that is being used by many in Georgia’s defense is that the Bulldogs would beat Ohio State, which is fine, but it’s a dishonest argument that only gets used in certain situations

Ask it of Georgia and Notre Dame or Ohio State and Notre Dame, and see how many votes for the Irish you’ll actually get. Undefeated teams don’t have to face this same scrutiny, even though the opinions are still there. In general, the “who would win” argument can have a very short shelf life, and it usually goes bad right after that second loss.

In college football, losses have always been the decider. Save for the never-before-seen-or-ever-seen-since 2007 season, a second loss always canceled out the “Who would win?” conversation because a second loss took that team out of the conversation.

Hell, in 2015, it was one 3-point loss to No. 9 Michigan State in a cold, rain-soaked late November game that saw Ohio State drop from No. 2 in the CFP rankings all the way down to No. 8 and fall completely out of the mix with two weeks to play.

Why did they drop out? Because the Buckeyes struggled through a season where they only beat eight of their 12 regular season opponents by 18 or more points?

Last year, meanwhile, No. 1 Alabama lost at No. 6 Auburn 26-14 in the final week of the regular season and still ended up at No. 4 and in the playoffs.

Why didn’t they drop out? Because they believed Alabama was one of the four best teams in the nation, as evidenced by beating seven of their 12 regular season opponents by 18 points or more.

We know the committee loves the SEC, but on Sunday they showed everybody that they are ready to make a move and skip right past protocol.

Oklahoma may have kept a 2-loss team that didn’t win its conference out of the playoffs, but the committee still showed its cards for all to see.

Losses are only as bad as the committee thinks they are. And sometimes losses can be almost as good as wins when they need them to be.

Even though the committee got the Final Four correct, things are now completely out of hand. They have shown that they are willing to create justifications for things that have never been justifiable before, and unless the Big Ten gets its big stick out of the closet and starts swinging it, it’s only going to get worse.

That’s not just on B1G commissioner Jim Delany, that’s also on the conference’s coaches and athletic directors.

They all need to turn the money counting machines off for a minute in order to listen to what’s going on outside the walls of their vaults.

The Big Ten’s fans are begging for a voice and the conference sits silent, which may actually have been the first precedent all along.

12 Responses

  1. Brilliant article Tony. Very well said about the bias that is sickeningly obvious. So it would appear that if Texas had defeated Oklahoma, Georgia would have been in to give the SEC 2 teams. Very fair, right? I agree with leaving OSU out, but to rate Georgia ahead of the B1G champs is a steaming pile of bull flop. GO BUCKS! Win the Roses.

  2. We the fans all have a vote in this. It’s simple, just turn off your television. If the ratings for these games goes down, the NCAA, ESPN, and the Committee will get the message loud and clear,

  3. Dear College Football Playoff Committee:

    Everyone can see that you have surrendered to the SEC Narrative & Bias, and that’s why we need to expand the playoffs to 5 Conf Champs and 3 at large.

    Here are a few examples of your bias:

    If two teams in SEC play to a 9-6 game…this is how the big boys play.

    Anyone else…they have no offense & their slow.

    If two teams in SEC play in 7 overtime’s….this is a classic game, one of the best of the year

    Anyone else…they have no defense.

    If any SEC team plays 5 top ranked teams…that’s a tough schedule,

    Anyone else…those teams were overrated.

    If an SEC team plays down to an opponent …they were just looking to next game.

    Anyone else…how embarrassing to allow an inferior team to get so close.

    If an SEC team plays a weak schedule…they needed these cupcakes to help prepare for the gauntlet in conference schedule,

    Anyone else…you should be ashamed.

    If an SEC QB doesn’t even play in the 4th Qtr of 95% of games and is not even available when his team needs him the most….he’s without question the Heisman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Anyone else…how can you be the Heisman if you don’t even play in crunch time.

    If anyone in SEC disagrees about anything and expresses it….it’s justified,

    Anyone else…your just complaining.

    When SEC players make it to NFL…it’s the greatest thing ever,

    Anyone else…you just got lucky.

    If an SEC team has an really good win and a bad loss…the really good win is emphasized,

    Anyone else….the loss is emphasized.

    If an SEC team has two losses with one of those losses by at least 20 points on the road and is not a conference champ, and another team with only one loss by at least 20 points and is a conference champ it’s obvious that the SEC should be ranked higher….I mean the top 25 each week, Year should start with the top 12 teams from the SEC and then everybody else…right?

    You get the idea: just continue this way of thinking with:
    Strength of Schedule
    Style points
    Conference play
    Out of conference play
    The way teams practice
    The way teams eat dinner
    The way teams open Christmas presents
    The way some one tells jokes
    Etc, etc, etc.

    I long for fairness in criticism & praise.

  4. Because of the difference between being 5 or 6 means almost nothing to OSU, there won’t be much discussion. What would have truly been interesting is if Texas would have beaten Oklahoma…Would they really put Georgia in over OSU? Can you imagine the uproar if they DID do that?
    It’s a sad state of affairs when the B1G commissioner won’t even go to bat for the conference. You hit the nail right on the head when you said something needs to be done or it will only get worse.

  5. the committee crap keeps getting worse and this year is the epitome of them stinking…the director’s explanation was contradictory when comparing the 3 teams in okla, ga, and OSU–saying the 1 loss, power 5 conf championship made the diff in okla getting in over ga, yet somehow 1 loss, power 5 conf champion OSU was still behind ga….OSU had TWO better wins than anything ga had as well….the fact of how much higher they kept teams like lsu and kentucky all year was alarming and this is another reason the playoff needs expanded to 8—-there is NO good reason not to do this..yes people will argue of #8 and #9 but much less margin for error of not getting the best teams in when expanded to 8…every other college football division has 16 teams so these peeps can’t complain about academics, etc being an issue and there is the whole month of december to use for 1 extra frickin week in the round of 8 to use….the committee has got more and more subjective and changing it’s answers and after this season shows why the system is TOO subjective and flawed (ALWAYS in favor of alabama, who didn’t play that tough of a regular season schedule )……alabama plays nobody good in true road games and as we all know the SEC doesnt play 9 conf games–heck most dont play many on-conf power 5 teams–yet they continue to get away with it because the committee rewards them….the idiot talking heads on espn don’t bother much discussing that of course….and i will even argue that OSU deserved to get in over oklahoma….osu actually has a better did over 100 other FBS teams–than oklahoma and i will argue that OSU’s offense is every bit as good as oklahoma’s–OSU played better defenses than OK does in the lame defense conf known as the big 12..OSU also had TWO better wins than anything OK did….georgia didn’t deserve to even be in consideration with those 2 teams ..but yet…finished ahead of OSU….the sad thing is Jim Delaney is a wuss–he absolutely needed to speak up but didn’t and stayed politically correct, even though his conference has got the shaft for a few years now…he has no backbone with this…I get Urban speaking the way he did to get the team motivated for the Rose Bowl so this was up to Delaney to speak up and…..crickets……I also wonder what Gene Smith said during committee meets….irregardless, the committee “thinking” was atrocious and alarming this year and the sooner we move to 8 teams with all 5 conference champions and 3 at large teams–AND notre Dame HAS to join a power 5 conference or they absolutely can’t get into the playoffs—this is only gonna get worse with the very, very obvious SEC bias..this is the weakest 4 teams in playoff history.

  6. Tony, I think you got this right! What saddens me is that Haskins growth didn’t get the stage it deserved to play out on. But that is loss for everyone and I got to believe Dwayne is going to put on a hell of a show in the Rose Bowl.

  7. Maybe its not so much about getting in – its what the committee members think will happen when a team does get in. The only two shutouts in the CFP have been handed to B1G teams – Alabama over MSU I believe was 38-0 and of course the Clemson fiasco. Now there has been a larger margin of victory – Oregon by 39 over FSU – but 59-20 just looks better than 38-0 or even 31-0. Also, it gives the talking heads fodder which I’m certain the committee (while they wont admit) listens to. By pure talent it should be Ohio State and Alabama not Clemson in the annual 1-2 but for some reason the Buckeyes tend to stumble with a lot of negative style points. Of note: I think the year the Buckeyes got in over PSU was because of its 2014 rep – recent bias. But after Clemson, the recent bias is purely negative.

  8. Exactly Tony! This thing is getting more political–in the current shoot first and forget the questions kind of way–every day. I think we all should have seen this coming when a two loss SEC team of LSU was ranked above 3 or 4 1-loss teams for weeks before this final poll. What would have happened if LSU didn’t lose a 3rd game? Come in at number 6? Could have been #5 since they beat Georgia. Nobody can convince me this committee would not have done that. That is how far out of whack this thing has become, as you, Tony, have made very clear. You are right. It is time for the B1G to open their money bags to hire some big guns to take care of this. Hire some of those Chicago politicians that live around B1G headquarters. They could get the job done.

    1. I always remember reading this from the NCAA website under the “selection” committee section and I quote “The BCS taught college football fans there is no perfect way of picking the best teams. That won’t change with the College Football Playoff.”

  9. Shouldn’t there be a requirement that no team that lost their last game before the playoffs should be in the playoff? Isn’t the goal to have the four best at the end of the season?

  10. Clemson played ABSOLUTELY NOBODY THIS YEAR….Notre Dame and Clemson dont even belong in the playoffs….The final 4 (that is if you wish the 5 BEST teams currenlt playong the country be the criteria would be the following 1.Alabama 2.Georgia 3.Ohio State 4.Oklahoma,,,,,

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