The debate has been settled.
The 12 person CFP committee has spoken and provided us a final four of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington. The results are disappointing to some, maddening to others, definitely not that simple to explain (see Kirby Hocutt), but certainly one that at least some, if not the majority of those who pay attention to college football can at least agree was a plausible outcome.
Did they get it right? That's hard to say. One thing is clear, there is no 100% correct answer to this and what we will see from here out should not determine whether they got it right or wrong. If Washington loses to Alabama by 60, there will be cries about why Penn State should have gotten in instead or if Ohio State wins, there will be some talk that they never should have had the chance in the first place.
When you get to the playoff, you are now answering a totally different question than what you were to originally select the four teams. It is now a two game season and it is about who the best team is over those two games, not about who should have been included or not and success or failure in these games does not justify inclusion or exclusion in the tournament to begin with.
As we have seen in this process, the committee went against its own protocol on several points (good article here from FBS Schedules on their process) and ignored conference championships, head to head results, even strength of schedule when it came to picking the teams.
From where I sit, they had real trouble qualifying what "best" meant. Best throughout the year, best now (hello USC), best based on resume, or best based on fewest losses. Ah, ha!
Although we will never hear it, it is my belief that the easy route here was to justify best based on fewest losses of power five teams. In Alabama, there was the only undefeated team and there were just three power five teams with one loss...put them all in and be done with it. Means it then became much easier for them to eliminate Penn State over either Ohio State or Washington, regardless of whether they were better or not.
The issue I have there is the protocol and the value you place on conference championships where the committee has said they matter. Penn State has that over Ohio State and although through feel and even through our Book metrics, Ohio State comes out on top (despite the loss), what was the sense of the conference title?
By taking a non conference champion from the same conference, heck from the same division, as a team you left out, you invalidated the Big 10 season and said, it really didn't matter very much. If they were going to do it this way, they would have been better leaving Washington out...but the Huskies bring us to another topic, strength of schedule.
I was blown away by how so many of the so called experts said it wasn't Washington's fault that they played a soft non conference schedule. On that I agree. If you want to argue they could have scheduled better competition, that's fine, but the UW football team, not their athletic department, played the schedule that was in front of them and had components of it that were set up many years ago, without any input from the players or Head Coach Chris Petersen.
But therein lies the rub.
UW's non conference schedule was ranked #127 out of 128, just ahead of our beloved Eagles. What the committee did by trying to justify their decision was place the burden of Washington's scheduling choices on other programs they were competing against.
The schedule itself was not a problem, but it had to be weighed against what others did. End of story. No talk of Washington thinking they wouldn't be in this spot and therefore scheduling for the purposes of building a program and not to compete for a college football title.
Teams should be selected for the college football playoff SOLELY based on their resume. Now you can debate the relative strength of that resume, but every other way of looking at "best" of determine who is in, is infinitely more subjective.
Will this move the needle to get to eight teams? No and changes certainly won't happen anytime soon. Also wrong are the people who think an eight team bracket will solve the problem. I would like to see eight because I believe more good football is never a bad thing and I would like to include one too many teams vs one too few, particularly considering the abundance of participation trophies known as bowl games that we have. What it does mean though is that there will be calls for more transparency, more consistency, less art and more science. Kind of sounds like the BCS...or the Book!
The Book had the top three teams the same and in the same order, it did however differ on 4 and 5 with the two logical suspects of Penn State (straight resume) and Washington (combination of resume and power ranking) flipping spots.
It really does underscore that the committee came down to evaluating two losses vs strength of schedule, exclusive of conference championships and head to head results and they chose number of losses as their key metric.
Back next week with just the point spreads for the bowl games!
Enjoy the games and Go Eagles!
Note: the Massey composite rankings are as of Monday evening, December 5.
|1||Alabama Crimson Tide||13-0||1||1||1||1||1|
|3||Ohio State Buckeyes||11-1||3||3||3||2||2|
|4||Penn State Nittany Lions||11-2||7||5||5||6||6|
|11||West Virginia Mountaineers||10-2||26||13||16||22||17|
|12||Florida State Seminoles||9-3||9||9||11||11||12|
|14||Western Michigan Broncos||13-0||32||31||15||15||10|
|15||Oklahoma State Cowboys||9-3||15||17||12||19||23|
|16||Virginia Tech Hokies||9-4||16||16||22||25||26|
|18||South Florida Bulls||10-2||34||27||-||27||20|
|19||Boise State Broncos||10-2||61||36||-||34||19|
|20||North Carolina Tar Heels||8-4||23||19||-||38||35|
|24||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||8-4||30||24||-||40||39|
|29||Washington State Cougars||8-4||18||22||-||13||18|
|35||Texas A&M Aggies||8-4||42||32||-||26||31|
|36||Kansas State Wildcats||8-4||20||30||-||23||38|
|37||Tulsa Golden Hurricane||9-3||48||45||-||32||37|
|38||Minnesota Golden Gophers||8-4||37||35||-||35||36|
|40||Western Kentucky Hilltoppers||10-3||27||48||-||36||32|
|45||Air Force Falcons||9-3||69||57||-||55||48|
|46||San Diego State Aztecs||10-3||46||60||-||53||44|
|47||Appalachian St. Mountaineers||9-3||63||63||-||48||40|
|50||Old Dominion Monarchs||9-3||81||78||-||77||60|
|52||N.C. State Wolfpack||6-6||38||42||-||45||53|
|54||TCU Horned Frogs||6-6||53||50||-||43||56|
|56||South Carolina Gamecocks||6-6||75||56||-||78||69|
|58||Ole Miss Rebels||5-7||54||47||-||57||54|
|59||Colorado State Rams||7-5||51||62||-||50||50|
|60||New Mexico Lobos||8-4||70||76||-||70||61|
|61||California Golden Bears||5-7||52||49||-||51||57|
|63||Boston College Eagles||6-6||67||61||-||74||72|
|64||Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders||8-4||95||86||-||93||79|
|66||Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||8-5||68||81||-||69||62|
|68||Wake Forest Demon Deacons||6-6||73||66||-||75||76|
|70||Eastern Michigan Eagles||7-5||96||84||-||95||80|
|71||Mississippi St. Bulldogs||5-7||45||51||-||47||58|
|72||Arizona State Sun Devils||5-7||79||67||-||76||77|
|73||Ohio University Bobcats||8-5||80||89||-||84||75|
|75||Texas Tech Red Raiders||5-7||50||87||-||65||78|
|76||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||4-8||35||53||-||54||70|
|77||Arkansas State Red Wolves||7-5||82||88||-||72||73|
|80||Duke Blue Devils||4-8||58||64||-||80||84|
|82||Oregon State Beavers||4-8||57||59||-||61||71|
|84||Army Black Knights||6-5||102||94||-||92||91|
|85||Central Michigan Chippewas||6-6||97||90||-||94||86|
|88||Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners||5-7||90||75||-||87||89|
|90||Southern Miss Golden Eagles||6-6||100||101||-||98||92|
|91||Louisiana Ragin Cajuns||6-6||88||99||-||91||87|
|92||Iowa St. Cyclones||3-9||72||82||-||68||95|
|93||Northern Illinois Huskies||5-7||77||92||-||86||85|
|95||South Alabama Jaguars||6-6||116||107||-||103||96|
|96||Illinois Fighting Illini||3-9||89||85||-||89||100|
|97||Michigan State Spartans||3-9||55||77||-||67||83|
|100||Tulane Green Wave||4-8||98||100||-||88||99|
|101||Georgia Southern Eagles||5-7||103||104||-||100||94|
|102||North Texas Mean Green||5-7||117||112||-||116||109|
|103||Nevada Wolf Pack||5-7||101||110||-||105||107|
|105||San Jose State Spartans||4-8||107||106||-||108||108|
|106||Bowling Green Falcons||4-8||104||108||-||107||104|
|107||East Carolina Pirates||3-9||106||102||-||101||105|
|108||Rutgers Scarlet Knights||2-10||112||98||-||111||112|
|115||Utah State Aggies||4-8||99||105||-||99||102|
|117||Ball State Cardinals||4-8||105||116||-||109||110|
|118||Kent State Golden Flashes||3-9||109||114||-||118||114|
|119||Texas-El Paso Miners||4-8||120||125||-||123||121|
|120||New Mexico State Aggies||3-9||121||118||-||122||120|
|121||Florida Atlantic Owls||3-9||123||124||-||124||125|
|123||Marshall Thundering Herd||3-9||122||123||-||121||122|
|124||Georgia State Panthers||3-9||118||122||-||114||116|
|127||Texas State Bobcats||2-10||128||128||-||128||128|
|128||Fresno State Bulldogs||1-11||125||126||-||126||126|
|9||North Carolina State||6-6||9||9|