Cincinnati has the biggest beef. Oklahoma has the strongest claim it’s one of the nation’s four best teams right now. Texas A&M must feel snakebit.
My entire life and probably yours, the Aggies have annually not been as good as they think they are, yet here they are better than anybody ever thought they’d be and six-win Ohio State gets the College Football Playoff nod instead?
It’s enough to make you want to dress up like a soldier and carry a saber.
Oh, wait … I digress.
Did you expect the College Football Playoff committee to make perfect sense? Does it have a history of making perfect sense? Or even a mission statement that makes it clear how it goes about its evaluation process, season to season, that makes perfect sense?
No, no and no, it doesn’t.
What it has is a press conference announcing its selections, in which its chair — Gary Barta, who’s also athletics director at Iowa — attempted to answer questions that would make perfect sense.
You be the judge.
“We look at the total body of work,” he said, trying to explain unbeaten Coastal Carolina’s occupying the 12th spot, despite the fact it beat Louisiana, which beat Iowa State, which beat Oklahoma (and also lost to Oklahoma).
Or, what he said about the possibility of a non-Power Five conference team reaching the playoff.
“Yes, they can … Their body of work will be evaluated alongside the group that gets into the top four every year,” he said. “Every year is unique … So the answer is yes. They’re always going to be measured. Every team is always going to be measured. The games they played, the games they won, how they played and every team has an equal opportunity to be evaluated based on their body of work.”
The thing about all that, of course, is though it may sound good when you hear it or read it, you can drive a truck through it, too, making it mean whatever you want it to mean.
Like The Constitution.
Sorry, I digress.
What we’re left with is the Big 10 champion Buckeyes, who didn’t even play enough games to qualify for the Big 10 championship game until the Big 10, realizing it might fall victim to its very own Big 10 rules, changed its Big 10 rules mid-stream.
We’re also left with a Notre Dame team that deserves to be there on the strength of its resumé, because it’s not the Irish’s fault the first time they played Clemson, and won, Tiger quarterback Trevor Lawrence wasn’t available.
Yet, while that’s quite true, it’s also quite true nobody believes the Irish to be one of the nation’s four best teams, because when it met Clemson with Lawrence it wasn’t even in the game, falling 34-10, and its best victory otherwise was a 31-17 decision over North Carolina, which doesn’t much deserve the No. 13 position the CFP committee gave it.
Like, good for Mack Brown that he put together a bigger season in Chapel Hill this year than he managed his last four at Texas, but NC’s a paper Tar Heel. It lost to Florida State and Virginia for crying out loud.
The reason we most know Notre Dame’s not one of the nation’s four best teams is it opened a 19 1/2-point dog for its Jan. 1 semifinal contest against Alabama.
Oklahoma would not be a 19-point dog against the Crimson Tide and on the off chance the Sooners were, a whole touchdown might come off the spread before the kick, smart money realizing the Sooners have actually played defense this season.
Hard to know what the Aggies’ number would be against the Tide. Perhaps less than 19 and then again maybe not, for A&M trailed ’Bama 35-14 at the half in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 3 and 52-24 by the time it was over.
All of which means …
I know, right?
It doesn’t mean much.
The best system would be an eight-team playoff that includes every Power Five champion and three at-large choices that must be conference champions of lesser leagues.
Yet, the Power Five programs would never go for it, fearing the day their conference title game pits the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the nation against one another, or even the Nos. 2 and 3, as was the case when the Tigers met the Irish a few days ago for the ACC crown.
Whatever, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina and San Jose State all deserve better fates.
The Bearcats are 9-0 and No. 8, the Chanticleers are 11-0 and No. 12 and the Spartans are 7-0 and No. 22, meaning every one of them has won more games than Ohio State and lost the same number as Ohio State.
So there’s plenty to be upset about. Or there would be were it any other year.
The committee did what it could, or what it could without earning the ire of perhaps the nation’s richest and most clout-wielding conference.
Also, a pandemic’s raging.
This time, it doesn’t have to make perfect sense.
We’re lucky they’re playing at all.