Playoff committee got teams right, but some changes are needed

Alabama’s SEC championship clinched the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Alabama's SEC championship clinched the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Alabama’s SEC title clinched No. 1 seed in playoffs. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

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.


A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— 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
 

Reader Comments 0

135 comments
JM64
JM64

IMO, the committee should have been announcing the 4 best teams and should forget about the seeding until the last week.  It is hard enough to pick the best teams until all the games are played. 

MD3
MD3

The funniest thing about the way this all ended up is this: Urban Meyer developed his tummy-ache which forced him to leave Florida because he wanted an easier conference to beat up on and the thought of having to compete against Saban for glory would ultimately be a non-winner for him. So he bails for the weak Big 10 (after miraculously being cured of his ailments) and now... oops, here comes Saban again! Too funny! Maybe he'll get some more comfort food from Papa John's like last year after Bama dismantles his team the same way MSU did a year ago.

Jim70
Jim70

OSU lost to VT, first game of season and VT ended 6-6.  Baylor lost to WVU, middle of season, and WVU was 7-5.  not much difference.

Jim70
Jim70

i wish the bcs committee would be more like the ncaam committee and seriously look at out of conference (OOC) games.  if the acc, big 10, etc, ONLY played in-conference games and then old DII or DIII teams, how do you know if they are the best conference?  And then not even all of the other conference teams.


Not an FSU fan (GT fan and at the game this weekend), but their OOC games were OSU, Citadel, Notre Dame, and Florida.  Compare that to bama's, LSU, Ole Miss, Miss State, etc. (UGA did play two acc teams, although most SEC fans would likely compare them to D2 from all of the comments I have read.)  These D2 type games should be considered exhibition games, and the won/loss or ANY stats should not count.  That may change things.


If the SEC went 4-0 against the ACC the last weekend of the season, SEC fans would have strongly stated how weak the ACC is and strong the SEC is - but reversed, not many comments.


Lastly, the SEC took two 'also ran' teams from the Big12, and they have done extremely well in the SEC.  That in itself doesn't say the SEC is a great football conference.  Some good teams, yes, but they would have a much stronger case if they actually played three OOC games against some of the stronger teams from the other 'power' conference.

stripesofzebra
stripesofzebra

@Jim70 you are comparing FSU's OOC to Alabama's in conference.  Alabama's OOC was West Virginia, Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss, and Western Carolina.  The intent of FSU's was a tough OOC.  The intent of UA was cupcake. 

HoosierAaron
HoosierAaron

OSU is not the 4th best team in the country. The committee obviously did not watch their game at home against my Hoosiers. Tevin Coleman ran thru that defense like a freight train. They didn't put a very weak IU team away until the 4th quarter. It's all made for tv - just like reality tv.

Oh, the Hoosiers did beat Mizzou at Columbia, btw...just saying.


And UGA matched up against UofL and Petrino....please. It's a joke.

apsLilburn
apsLilburn

So now the lack of a conference championship game matters?  What about all those BCS years where all other conference title game losers were penalized but Ohio State got into the BCS because they did not have to play the extra game?

kicksix
kicksix

The Updykes are in the NC because the head of the NCAA and Saban are best buddies.  Any other college could not get by with what they do, PERIOD.  It will all come out after saban is gone..

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

Anyone think that had it been Texas instead of Texas Christian that the team would've dropped 3 spots after winning by 50+ points?  The "independent" committee chose the big bucks, big name, tv ratings, and marketability of Ohio State over the 2 lesser known, smaller (and better) Big 12 schools. 

It makes one wonder if the system is somehow fixed.  Oh well, at least the student-athletes aren't being exploited.

KennesawFan
KennesawFan

Ohio State does not belong. That they throttled Wisconsin so badly only proves just how weak the Big 10 is. They will get smoked by Alabama. 

Dawggie
Dawggie

@KennesawFan  Tressel isn't at OS anymore.  Myer will make a game of it.  That's what good coaches do.

OH-IO
OH-IO

@KennesawFan


Ya, I guess we really didn't shut them out and hold the Heisman runner up to 75 yards.


Give me a break.


Enjoy The Belk. 

KingByumayuma
KingByumayuma

@KennesawFan . It is funny when Hillbilly's only seem to think Michigan and OSU play in the big ten and all the other schools are garbage. Oh by the way. MSU had Bama on their schedule until Bama until asked to be let out of the series.... So keep talking about the weak big 10 while the talented teams you never heard of  schedule top 10 out of conference teams each year. Derp Derp

HoosierAaron
HoosierAaron

@OH-IO The BEST running back in the Big 10 they "held" to 228 yards...including a 90 yard score untouched, in addition to a 52 yard run TD run. Three TD's on the day for Coleman...in the Shoe. Brutus didn't lay a finger on our guy that afternoon.

50Concept
50Concept

Alabama > ohio state

FSU > oregon

Alabama > fsu

Nick gets another title

Vercingetorix
Vercingetorix

@LostBurro  I think Oregon beats FSU handily and gives Alabama a run for the money.  I rank the NC a tossup between Bama and Oregon.

GMAB
GMAB

Please keep Terence Moore off of WSBTV sports. The guy is a complete idiot.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

Too bad Cinderella got left out again.  There is a saying, "Two wrongs don't make a right."  Why does Division I not have a playoff system like Div. ! Basketball, Baseball, Field Hockey, et al?  Wrong number one: A 4-team selected playoff is nothing but a joke.  Let Donald Trump select the beauty contest judges to determine who wins some artificial opinion poll about who people thing might be number one.  Instead of "strength of schedule" as a determining factor, let Condi Rice ask each team, "What would you do to make the world a better place?"  


The NCAA needs a 32-team (if not 64) bracketed playoff, with conference winners and a selected number of "at large" teams, like GA Tech and Georgia.  But the first wrong is letting teams play 3 exhibition games during the season, rather than play three playoff games at the end of a shorter year. The second wrong is acting like the bowl system is worth keeping.  It can be used to enhance the playoff system, but the first two rounds could be played at the team with the best record's place. 


FSU would not be in the "Final Four" if it had to play three games against teams that finished second in their conference (8 wins most likely) or won their conference (like a Baylor)  Rank them the first seed in the Southern division.  Let them get in the mix with some good team, ranked in the top 25.

stripesofzebra
stripesofzebra

@BooBooBear the other divisions of football have 16 teams in their playoff, 32 is a stretch and 64 laughable.

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

@stripesofzebra @BooBooBear A season is usually 12 games now.  Take away three non-conference games and the season is only 9 games.  Teams like Kentucky and Vanderbilt can focus on school work, having each gone 1-8 as SEC pretenders, so the big boys can go 9-0, 8-1, or 7-2.  A 10th game is only played to determine split conference winners.  So, if a field of 64 were to be chosen, it would only be from a field of "big boys."  In four regions, there are 16 teams that would have 2 teams play 4 games (16 play 1, 8 play 2, 4 play 3).  So, say Georgia plays to win the SEC, it will have played 10 games.  If it then went on to go to the Final Four, it would have played 13 games.  GA Tech now sits with a 10-3 record, having played 13 games.  This whole season, beginning in September, would last until the end of November (13 weeks), with 2 off weekends put in the schedule to make it mid-December.  There would then be 2 weeks off for Christmas, with the Final Four played on New Year's Day, and the Championship played on January 7.  The two teams ultimately playing for the title would end up playing 15 games in all.  To call that laughable is a truly laughable argument against reasonable thinking.  To call a 64-team playoff laughable is to call an end to all other NCAA division playoffs, where the ultimate championship game would equate to two teams playing a 16th game, if they played a 13-game season, and then 3 playoff games.

DewieCheatem_n_Howe
DewieCheatem_n_Howe

To go to an 8 team playoff you either have to eliminate one regular season game or further lose the pretense that these are "student" athletes.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

@DewieCheatem_n_Howe  Div 1 AA seemed to miss that pretense the last 20 years.  They did not drop any regular season games and those schools seem to have good student athletes.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

I didn't see the game (at the SEC game) but my first thought on seeing the Ohio State score was Wisconsin must have been paid off to throw the game.

GTBob
GTBob

Sorry, I'm not all that convinced that Ohio St is the obvious 4th best team in the country. They looked impressive against Wisconsin, but looked fairly mediocre or terrible against several other teams. I don't see how anyone could say that they are certainly a better team than TCU.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Just your opinion.... some got the shaft .  Need to go to 8 team play-off.  just my opinion.

C. Diff
C. Diff

@58Supersports My opinion . . . this is the best idea/comment on this whole thread! I'd even go for a "sweet 16' format. More "playoff bowls," more sponsorship opportunities, and more football for everyone.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Its something of a joke to not have TCU or Baylor in the mix, I guess Mike Silva used his influence to keep the Tide from getting embarrassed by either TCU or Baylor, Auburn ran up 630 yards and 44 points on Alabama and if they had had a decent defense, at least as good as TCU or Baylor, they would have won the Iron Bowl. Ohio State is a joke and FSU is close behind. 

Obama is a Joke
Obama is a Joke

I agree that the top 4 is correct... but the rest of it?  Are you kidding me? 

cloudodust
cloudodust

Wisconsin held Ohio St to under 60 and THEY get no consideration..? What's wrong with the world?

JonMarti
JonMarti

A quick fix would be expanding the playoff field to 6 teams.  Each "Power 5" conference champion gets an automatic bid to the playoff plus one at-large.  Of course the Big 12 needs to expand to 12 teams and play a conference championship game.  The week before the semifinals, play 2 play-in games:  #3 vs #6 and #4 vs #5 with the higher seed getting home field (or incorporating more bowl games).  Make all Power 5 conferences play a 9-game conference schedule, as well.  Once all games are played, all the committee needs to do is select the most deserving at-large team and rank the teams 1-6.  This will also fill in a much needed schedule gap in December.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Well, the people that get rich betting have Alabama as 10 point favorites.

This, more than any silly fan's opinion, tells you just how weak is this fraud called the Buckeyes! 

Dawggie
Dawggie

@RangeRover  Well those same "people" had UGA as 2-TD favorites over the Gators and Jackets.  Those "lines" have nothing to do with the expected outcomes of games.  It's all about luring the gamblers into a making a bet.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

It is a rigged game, Notre Dame and OSU seem to be unable to play themselves out of consideration for the big selections year after year.  The powers that be need to expand the playoffs to the six best teams plus Notre Dame and the B1G winner every year, even if they have 3 losses.  There seems to be this NE or media influence that they MUST be included.  Baylor/TCU were screwed in that they just didn't have the political pull or gravitas among the selection committee to get what they clearly earned.



BravesFan79
BravesFan79

I think Baylor should of gotten that #4 spot over Ohio State and a overrated Big Ten!   We will hopefully see a 8 team playoff in the next decade.  

TheVoice
TheVoice

It really is the BCS +2.  The media has been pulling for OSU since the middle of the year even when the Big 10 clearly has mediocre teams throughout.   It does generate the media darlings match up with the coaches.


The Big 12 really took it in the shorts on this one.  I'm a TCU guy and never understood why Baylor was behind them.  What I didn't realize was that any of the rankings really didn't mean anything and none of the games yesterday meant much as long as the big 4 won.  


Is this better than the BCS?  I guess we'll see.  It doesn't seem like it for now.

Domina8r
Domina8r

The Belk Bowl.  Free pantyhose to all players and fans.

gmaye
gmaye

Amazing, UGA loses to Fla, Ga Tech  loses to FSU, talking about a state that owns Georgia. The state of Georgia is officially loserville and sports writers like Schultz and Bradley continue to have lover affairs with average coaches  at Tech and UGA.

Look at Ohio State and Ala, their schools demand greatest Fla gets rid of their coach because the fans at Fla demand championships not 3 loss season year after year the sports writers in those states demand greatest, Schulz and Bradley been in loserville so long they dont even know what high standards look like.

MD3
MD3

The committee rewarded tradition. Baylor and TCU are the up-and-comers without decades of success. So even though the Big 12 is far superior to the Big 10, OSU gets the nod. 


What do you think would have happened if it had been a 1-loss Oklahoma team at #3, followed by a 1-loss Ohio State at #5? There's no way they would've dropped Oklahoma 3 spots and promoted Ohio State. But, because Baylor and TCU lack Oklahoma's "pedigree", they get the shaft. 


Ohio State had the worst loss of the 3 teams, and they played in the weakest conference. But they are in and the other two are out. The only thing the committee did was guarantee that this 4 team playoff will rapidly move to 6 or 8 teams. 


Epic fail on the part of the committee.

MD3
MD3

@OH-IO @MD3 The fact is, had it been Oklahoma or Texas sitting there with one loss instead of TCU and Baylor, Ohio State would have been left out. Not even you can deny that fact. So, OSU lucked into their spot, not because of what they did on the field, but because TCU and Baylor seemingly have less "prestige". The Big 10 is weak and has been for years.