The inaugural college football playoff field is set and here’s my first thought: Once you get past all of the complaints about TCU and/or Baylor getting jobbed, and Ohio State having a dreadful loss to Virginia Tech on its resume, the four best teams got in.
We can debate whether the four teams –Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State — are seeded correctly. I still believe it’s ridiculous that the Seminoles aren’t ranked No. 1 or 2, given they are the only unbeaten team from a “Power 5” conference, even if many of their wins have been narrow escapes. But the playoff selection committee did what it was asked to do: Pick the four best teams and give us two great semifinals: Alabama vs. Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl (Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer) and Florida State vs. Oregon in the Rose Bowl (first team to 100 points wins).
But there were some issues with the rankings process this season. Here are a few thoughts on how things can be improved.
1.) Conference championship games: It’s easy to understand why TCU and Baylor are upset. But they can blame their own conference. The Big 12 doesn’t have a conference championship game because it was left with only 10 teams after so many schools changed affiliations. It’s no coincidence that the four playoff teams all won conference title games (SEC, Pac-12, ACC, Big Ten). It’s not a level playing field if Big 12 teams aren’t required to play a 13th game.
2.) Balancing schedules: I’ll reiterate what I’ve written before — schools from all major conferences need to play nine conference games and three non-conference games. There are always going to be issues with one conference being stronger than the other, but every team should be required to run through the grind of nine conference games or it’s not equitable across conferences.
3.) Schedules, part II: It’s only one season but the SEC opted to not expand conference schedules at least in part because it believed could still qualify two teams for the four-team field. Oops.
4.) Past rankings mean nothing: So why do they exist? I understand the committee’s desire to be transparent. But really, what was the point of having TCU ranked No. 3 last week, only to have them drop three — three — spots after winning its final game 55-3. TCU never should have been ranked third to begin with. By placing the Horned Frogs that high, all the committee did was create controversy, which, come to think of it, might have been the desired effect.
Committee chairman Jeff Long’s comment that there never really was three-through-six rankings but rather “3-ABCD” was weak, at best. If committee members care only about what they see that week and selections are going to be that random, why even pay attention to earlier rankings. For that matter, why even have them — other than to provide ESPN with programming?
Those are my thoughts. I welcome yours.
— MyAJC: SEC title: Mizzou can’t compete with Alabama –nor can any team — AJC: Short takes: Sims leads way as Alabama rules SEC again — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Georgia Tech ends Florida State’s run — AJC: New rankings make college football playoff look like set up — MyAJC: Rare situation: Eyes are off Bulldogs and on Jackets — MyAJC: Tech’s Bobinski finally stops stalling with Johnson — AJC: Georgia Tech finally offers Johnson contract extension — MyAJC: Finally, a real football team named Falcons shows up — AJC: Falcons’ short takes: Devin Hester says officials admitted mistake — MyAJC: This Georgia season was just another big tease — AJC: Georgia ‘short takes’ on loss to Georgia Tech — MyAJC: As Georgia loses SEC title shot, Tech suddenly has higher ceiling — AJC: Missouri wins SEC East — will it affect Georgia? — AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs win, Falcons lose, toys devolve — AJC: Tech’s Johnson long overdue for contract extension — MyAJC: Tech’s season a loud response for Johnson’s critics — AJC: First-ballot thoughts: Smoltz should join Maddux, Glavine — AJC: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech: Which team has had better season? — MyAJC: Gurley’s injury should prompt change in NFL draft rule — AJC: Weekend Predictions: The straight poop–Georgia wins SEC East, Falcons lose — AJC: Is Braves’ pursuit of Lester realistic? — AJC: Braves trade Jason Heyward and John Hart just took huge risk — MyAJC: It makes no sense but Falcons are in first — AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ win over Panthers — MyAJC: Dogs have a statement win, now hope for best with Gurley — AJC: Short takes on Georgia’s win and Gurley — MyAJC: As hoops open, Tech looks far more ready than Georgia