Hayes: Stop the Playoff debate nonsense. Alabama is 1 of the 4 best teams in the country
The English philosopher G.K. Chesterton once said the great tragedy of our time is that people were taught to read and not to reason.
If reason ruled the Playoff selection committee, this wouldn’t even be an argument. Alabama is 1 of the 4 best teams in college football.
The Playoff was born in 2014 with the directive to find the 4 best teams in college football.
Not the best wins, or best losses. Or worst wins and worst losses. Or — and here’s the key — 1 loss compared to 2 losses.
The best 4 teams. Period.
Doesn’t matter how you get there or what metrics you use, just give us the best 4 teams. Give us the best Playoff possible.
Because it’s easy to scan a ledger sheet and make a definitive statement when you’re told X and Y are what’s important — when you’re told to be concerned only with X and Y and nothing else. And certainly don’t be concerned about a 22-point loss at home in the last game of the season with everything on the line.
Don’t let someone shove a ledger sheet in front of you, Playoff selection committee members, and tell you to place numbers where they typically would fit.
Nothing fits this season, and for that very reason, the Playoff rankings must reflect reason. If those 11 selection committee members — who have watched 14 weeks of football — can’t see Alabama is 1 of the 4 best teams, we’ve got a big problem.
This might be the worst season in the Big Ten in 2 decades. It’s Michigan and a whole lot of nothing.
For weeks, the selection committee tried to sell Ohio State and Michigan as the elite of the sport. Then they played, and one looked elite.
The other looked like the team that 3 weeks earlier beat the worst Northwestern team in years with a 4th quarter push — then was propped up by the committee as winning a game “in bad weather.”
Meanwhile, Alabama loses 2 games — both on the road to top-10 teams at the time of the game — on the last play of the game. Let me say that again.
The last play of the game.
Suddenly, Alabama isn’t worthy. Suddenly, the team that has dominated the sport since 2009 — that but for an injury to WR Jameson Williams in last year’s national championship game could have won the past 2 titles — isn’t worthy because of 2 last-play losses.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
Yet there are the talking heads on Saturday’s telecasts on all the networks, declaring that No.5 Ohio State “is in” after No. 4 USC’s loss to Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game, and No. 3 TCU’s loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Why, you ask? Well, Ohio State was No. 5 coming into the day. For that reason, and that reason alone.
I’m gonna puke.
The reason college football moved to a Playoff and scrapped the antiquated and highly controversial BCS system is — first and foremost — it wanted a committee to watch the games, absorb any and all data and make an informed, reasoned decision on the 4 best teams.
Instead of simply slotting teams after wins and losses.
If you want to blame someone for this mess, blame Tennessee. If the Vols were prepared and ready for a classic trap game last month at South Carolina, they could’ve avoided a bad loss and the Playoff would’ve had a much easier choice.
Instead, here we are, deciding between 3 teams that didn’t win their conference championships (TCU, Ohio State, Alabama), and only 1 that reached their conference championship game (TCU).
Instead, we’re told that a boring 21-10 win over Notre Dame in the season-opener — in Columbus — was a significant win for the Buckeyes. A week later, the Irish lost at home to Marshall, which finished 3rd in the rough and tumble Sun Belt East.
Or Penn State, which beat the slop in the Big Ten, too, and had a nonconference win against 1 of the 3 worst teams in the SEC (Auburn) — and lost to Michigan and Ohio State — was a “big” win for Ohio State.
But if we’re being intellectually honest, Alabama wins the Big 12. Alabama more than likely wins the Big Ten, too.
At some point, these specific data points or metrics or whatever you want to call them — I call them “reason” — must be considered. The selection committee has always been ruled by the human condition, has always used reason and reality over wins and losses.
It happened in 2014, in the first season of the Playoff, when Ohio State had no business making the tournament after losing by 14 at home to Virginia Tech. TCU and Baylor both had better resumes, and Ohio State jumped both on Championship Weekend to reach No. 4.
Then went out and won the national title.
The committee saw then what it should see now. Alabama is 1 of the 4 best teams in the nation.
And if Alabama gets in, it may just win the whole damn thing, too.