The final installment of the lies within the College Football Playoff committee focusses on the treatment of the non power five conference teams. Under the new rules set forth in determining the teams that get to play for the College Football Playoff, there is a special clause that is reserved for teams that do not play in either the Big Ten, SEC, PAC 12, Big XII, or ACC conferences. These teams are referred to the group of five teams with the aforementioned conferences having teams referred to as power five teams. Teams in power five conferences receive preferential treatment because their conferences top to bottom have better teams and more talent. Every single national champion since 1984 has been a team in a power five conference. The last team to win being BYU in 1984 out of the Mountain West conference. Now yes, there were teams such as Penn State who won championships more recently as an independent team but that is not being considered because they now belong to a power five conference. But wait, you may ask about Notre Dame since they won a national championship in 1988 and are still an independent team. Why do I not count them as a non power five national champion? What special clause would be reserved for those who are not in power five conferences and does Notre Dame receive?
To answer that question, the bias of the committee is incredibly apparent in their view of what a non power five team is. Under the College Football Playoff (CFP), there are six top tier bowls known as the New Year’s Six bowls. The bowls are: the Rose Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Peach Bowl Two of the NY6 are the playoff semi finals, the other four are rewards for a well played season. The power five conferences though, have an advantage. Each of the power five teams has a bowl tie in that guarantees their champion a birth in a NY6 bowl. The other five conferences have a combined, zero bowl tie ins. Under the new rules, the committee graciously allocated one bid for all the teams in the other five conferences. They rule that the highest ranked team among all of those in the group of conferences gets to go to one of the big money bowl games. To make it harder yet for these teams, good old Notre Dame comes in. Everyone who has even a tiny bit of college football knowledge knows that Notre Dame is considered one of the great college football giants. And, because they consider themselves to be an independent team (although they signed a deal with the ACC stipulating that they must play at least six games against ACC teams) the rule explicitly states the highest ranked non power five, or Notre Dame team gets to play. Now is not that just fair?
To put it lightly, no it is not fair. Teams like UCF, who went 13-0, with more wins against ranked teams than Alabama, had no chance to play for a national championship because they are a non power five team. What did UCF do in their bowl game, the Peach Bowl against 7th ranked Auburn? (Auburn also finished third in their conference but because the SEC has a tie in to a bowl game and Alabama and Georgia were in the playoffs they got to go) UCF “upset” them to go 14-0. Who did Auburn beat again? Oh yeah, Georgia and Alabama. But the committee is right, because UCF is from a non power five conference they do not deserve the chance to play for a national title because they are an inferior team since their conference is weaker top to bottom than a power five conference.
Why do these bowls matter so much though? Some fans believe they are just glorified exhibition games. In the next blog, the topic of bowl game money will be discussed and the division between power five and group of five teams will be examined further.
The biggest lie the CFP committee tells, is that every year, every team has a chance to win a national championship. Congrats to the 2018 National Champion UCF Golden Knights.
Last week, the blog focussed on the injustice felt by the Ohio State football team when Alabama, on the reputation of their coach, Nick Saban, snuck their way into the College Football Playoff. As previously mentioned, I myself am no fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes, although victim this year, are usually one the teams that are shown preferential treatment. They are no innocent bystander. They too have a coach whose reputation caries the team.
The Ohio State Buckeyes made the 2016-17 College Football Playoff as the third ranked team. With the third ranking, one can assume that they should be in an devoid of any controversy. That assumption would be completely incorrect. Yes the Buckeyes finished 11-1, yes the Buckeyes had wins over 3 top ten teams, but they did not win their conference, nor did they even win their division. The distinction of Big Ten East, and Big Ten Champions belonged to the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State finished 11-2 and 5 in the country, very similar to the Buckeyes in 2017-18. The biggest difference in the comparison of the injustice shown to the Buckeyes in 2017, and the Lions in 2016 would be under bullet point three of the stated selection criteria of the College Football Playoff Committee. The third bullet point bluntly states, “head to head competition”. This means that if the teams are in close contention with one another, the result of their on field game should be used as a tiebreaker. Who, you might ask, won this incredible matchup in late October? That would be the Nittany Lions 24-21. So now, you have a team with a strong strength of schedule, a head to head victory, and a conference championship won (the first three bullet points checked off) and yet they are deemed not only one, but two spots behind the team they beat in the conference they won. How is this possible? How could the Lions be this disrespected? If the criteria were to be followed, how can a result like this even be possible? That is simply because the whole system is a lie, with the committee choosing to favor the big, household name coaches over deserving teams. The Buckeyes would go on to lose their game 31-0. That is quite funny since the stated purpose of the committee is to make the best game matches possible. I do not know about you, but 31-0 does not exactly stand out as an entertaining game. And what of the team that finished 4th? So far, nothing has been said of them.
The team that finished fourth is the Washington Huskies. At first glance, the Huskies appear to check off the marks of a respectable team. They won their conference, and finished 21-1. Why then would they not be ahead of Ohio State? This is because the Huskies should not have been in the playoff at all. The Huskies played in what is considered the weakest of the power five conferences, thus giving them no real chance in conference to win any real big games except for one, the game against USC. USC though, started off the season with a 52-3 loss at the hands of Alabama so they were not at their usually perceived strength. Surely Washington must have easily handled USC at home. Nope, they got embarrassed and their vaunted offense was only able to put up 13 points, at home. No loss is a good loss as one loss can derail a college football season. As a result, some teams will schedule teams they can easily beat to pad their win totals. Washington took that idea to heart and scheduled non conference opponents that were so weak, their non conference strength of schedule was ranked 124 out of 128. They played Rutgers to a tough 48-13 game at home. Rutgers went 2-10 and 0-9 in the Big Ten. Surely the committee reviewed their criteria of results against common opponents and saw that Penn State won 38-0 right? Nah they do not care. Washington also played a FCS school. Are you starting to see a trend here? Why schedule a tough non con like PSU (whose was so tough it was ranked 5 in the country), or like Ohio State did this year, when you can schedule cupcakes like Bama and Washington and reap the rewards? Washington ended up losing their game in a close one to Bama 24-7. 17 points is close right? One last thought before you decide whether or not the CFP committee is fair, of the four teams that made the playoff in 2016-17, there were only three losses. Those losses were at the hands of USC, Pitt, and Penn State.
So, is it all a lie?
- “Principles. The committee will select the teams using a process that distinguishes among otherwise comparable teams by considering:
- * Conference championships won,
- * Strength of schedule,
- * Head-to-head competition,
- * Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory), and,
- * Other relevant factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team’s performance duringthe season or likely will affect its postseason performance.”
Listed above is the stated criteria of the College Football Selection committee, and it is all a lie. This year’s College Football Playoff included Clemson University, Oklahoma University, the University of Georgia, and the University of Alabama. The first three teams, yielded little, if any, surprise when the committee announced that these three teams were to be included in the final four. Each of the three teams had won their conference championship (check mark one), each team had a strong strength of schedule (check mark two) thanks to their status of a power five team, and all three teams also had a legitimate non conference win over a reputable opponent. (Clemson over Auburn, Oklahoma over Ohio State, and Georgia over Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Georgia’s wins both coming on the road which is another factor when evaluating strength of schedule) So far, everything seems to be in line. Where could the lie be? To find the lie, look no further than the fourth and final team to make the playoff, the University of Alabama. Did they win their conference? No, they did not even win their respective division. Did they have a tough strength of schedule? Not even slightly when comparing their schedule to that of other top teams.
Alabama only had on their schedule 11 division one FBS teams. One team Alabama scheduled is not even in their same league. This would be like an NFL team scheduling a college football team for an easy win. They played the Mercer Bears who finished 5-6 overall in FCS football. Alabama scheduled a team who could not even finish with a .500 winning percentage in a considerably lower level of football! Well maybe they needed an easy game since they would play such grueling conference schedule right? You would be wrong. Their best win in conference was an unconvincing win over Mississippi State 24-17, which, to anyone watching who was not a fan of the Crimson Tide, was not so much an Alabama win as it was the Bulldogs poorly managing a game and letting it get away from them. By the time the final CFP rankings were released, Alabama’s best win would become #17 LSU. LSU also played Mississippi State (who finished 23 in the final CFP rankings) and beat them 37-7. Gee, 24-17 does not seem so legitimate anymore does it? Again, you may ask, where is the lie? All these stats are great but why does it matter? That answer, will be found in the team who finished 5 in the final rankings, one spot away from having the chance to play for a national championship.
The number five team in the country was the Ohio State Buckeyes. I myself am no fan of them, far from it, I actually have a burning hatred for them, yet even I cry foul at the sight of seeing them left out. Unlike Alabama, Ohio State had a very tough strength of schedule. They played (according to the final CFP rankings) four teams in the top twenty five and three in the top ten. Of those four games, Ohio State won three over teams ranked 6,9, and 16. Who is Alabama’s best win again? Oh yea, 17. Ohio also had to play an additional game, the conference championship to prove their point and finish with an 11-2 record. Unlike the NFL, a loss is not so easily forgivable. One or two losses can derail an entire season. Should Ohio State be considered an inferior team since they have two losses to Bama’s one? Not at all. Ohio State could have just as well scheduled Mercer instead of non conference top ten opponent Oklahoma. I would bet my house on OSU to beat Mercer.
After laying out the facts, it should be a no brainer that Alabama be left out of the CFP. So why did they still get in? Because the whole system is a flat out lie. The committee states their mission is to select the best teams. That means they can select whomever they choose and hide under the cover of saying they chose “the better team”. Was Alabama the better team? No, they had the better coach. There is no denying that Alabama is a dynasty run by Nick Saban, but the rules state that every year is unique and no season but the current season is evaluated. Because of who he is, Saban was given the benefit of doubt, proving the CFP to be a sham, and nothing but a lie.
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