WARR writer Kevin Luchansky writes about baseball and college football.
The much debated and often over-analyzed inaugural College Football Playoff field was set this week, bringing a climactic action to a season that was heightened just about the whole way with concern over who would occupy the top four spots in the playoff rankings, which in two weeks this January will for the first time decide an outright National Champion determined solely by on the field play.
Sunday afternoon’s revealing dealt half-way in the elementary — what everyone knew for weeks was that half of the field would be taken up by Alabama (or the prohibitive SEC champion…again, Alabama) and Pac-12 champion Oregon, who were announced as the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds, respectively.
The day’s suspense laid in announcing to whom the final two spots would go to — Florida State, Ohio State, TCU and Baylor all existed with sound cases as to why they deserved a bid. Let me first start out by saying I think the committee had a ridiculously tough job to do and regardless of whether they “got it right” or not, there was sure to be public scrutiny.
That said, I do think the committee “got it right” when they put the four best college football teams into the playoff. Now, if you happen to reside in the state of Texas, you’re probably shaking your head in disagreement.
Whether you think Baylor or TCU was deserving of the 4th and final spot or not, it’s hard to argue that they weren’t screwed, seeing as the Horned Frogs had just one loss, same as Oregon, Alabama and Ohio State. I feel like Baylor and TCU’s cases were brought down by three main components: head-to-head record, lack of a conference championship in the Big 12, and program prestige.
As for the head-to-head component, you have to believe it hurt TCU more so than it did Baylor. In their annual contest, Baylor got the best of TCU in a 61-58 thriller. Since there is such a history of valuing “who” you beat, I felt this outcome made it impossible for the voters to include TCU over Baylor, despite TCU being ranked No. 3 in the playoff poll with Baylor at No. 5 heading into last weekend’s match-ups.
The lack of a conference championship game in the Big 12, in which the two teams shared the regular season title, seems pretty obvious, but I think the feelings of alienation emanating from the Lone Star state is less about naming a champion than it is the fact that you don’t have an additional chance to not only grab a victory, but to do it on a national stage against a quality opponent while the voters are watching.
Whether we like to admit it or not, our society is one in which the credo “what have you done for me lately?” means a lot. Not having that conference championship stage to step onto is a killer in your season campaign. Whether its fair or not, teams need that final chance to remind the committee why they are an elite team and it makes more sense to include them in such a historic event as a College Football Playoff.
Ohio State, a traditional power, got its chance last Saturday and knocked it out the park, making its chances to be happy on Sunday that much more pronounced. OSU is just one of those big-brand college football programs that people associate with the game, and make no mistake, money and prestige will play a HUGE role in who is selected for the playoff because there are just certain teams with which the NCAA can make additional money, but I don’t think the financial aspects were the final sticking point in selecting the Buckeyes.
In the end, it was the program’s storied history that gave them the edge. It made more sense to have the Buckeyes in the mix for the title and luckily for the playoff committee that provided an easy solution to just about the only dilemma they’ve had this season.