The College Football Playoff has officially been announced. I will be back once we get closer to the games for a full preview and predictions write-up, but there are a few take home messages I think we can gather from this year’s playoff bracket.
- Inconsistency reigns supreme – It’s not that I feel the committee is inconsistent itself; it’s that the make-up of the committee regularly changes, and they value many different things. The inaugural playoff took Ohio State because of their strength of schedule. Last year (Washington) and this year (Alabama) it’s tough to make the argument that SOS is a huge metric that matters. You can certainly make a case for both schools, but SOS is not one of them.
- Group of 5 teams have no chance – UCF was undefeated and won most game pretty convincingly and cam nowhere near the playoff. They did all this in a season where there were only 3 one-loss conference champs. If they can’t get in over a one-loss non-conference champ, or a 2 loss conference champ, it’s never going to happen. I mean they were not even close, coming in at number 10. It seems for consideration, a group of 5 team is going to have to aggressively schedule some top Power 5 teams, as in multiple teams per year. However, would you want your favorite Power 5 school to play UCF? I sure wouldn’t.
- A bad loss matters, some of the time – It’s all in how you define a bad loss I suppose. Losing by 30 to a .500 team is apparently enough to keep you out of the playoff. Losing by 3 to a 4-8 team in a game where your QB gets injured isn’t. Clemson 100% deserves to be in the playoff, but the message is misleading
- Best versus most deserving – This is the million-dollar question. Is it the committee’s job to choose the best 4 teams, or the most deserving 4 teams? I absolutely believe the playoff has the best 4 teams in it. Bama got banged up late in the year and lost a tough road game to a rival. They will be healthy by New Year’s and will give Clemson all they can handle. However, there is no case you can make to me that they are the most deserving. They didn’t have a particularly tough schedule, didn’t win their division (or obviously their conference), and their loss wasn’t a last second FG situation. Alabama got in because the committee thinks they are one of the 4 best, and for no other reason.
- Scheduling – This is a very mixed message. Previously, the committee has really seemed to value scheduling. I ask myself this though, if Ohio State had beaten a MAC team, instead of losing to Oklahoma, is the committee taking a 1 loss Bama over a 1 loss, conference champ Ohio State, even with that Iowa loss? I’m not so sure they would. I therefore would say OOC scheduling only matters if you win.
- Name Brands Matter – If the resumes were identical, but that was Texas A&M and Ohio State, I 100% expect Ohio State would’ve been the selection. The committee had an out in that it was Bama. On the flip side, if it was Michigan State or Bama, is there a debate at all? Again, I don’t think so.
So I do think the committee got the best 4 teams, and I’m really looking forward to these matchups. However, there is definitely something that makes me a little uncomfortable here. If Bama had been hands down the best team, I could kind of live with it, but Bama wasn’t any better than Clemson or even Oklahoma or Georgia this season. To me, your conference should be essentially the first round of the playoff. While I would not require a conference championship to be in, they mean a lot to me, especially when there are only 4 spots.
Now if a 3 loss team from the weaker division pulls an upset in the conference title game, that’s a different story. That was certainly not the case this year. Ohio State won what is arguably the best conference in 2017. They beat Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, and challenged themselves OOC with Oklahoma. That, in most season would be enough. Certainly, the irony of Ohio State getting in over Penn State last year is identical here. The truth of the matter is the committee values different things each year, so there is no sense trying to predict exactly what they hold most important.
I will be back prior to the holidays with a full preview of the college football playoff!