What we liked, what we disliked: College Football Playoff
The first year of the College Football Playoff, most people are satisfied with the four teams in the field. Alabama will take on Ohio State, while Florida State meets Oregon in the other semifinal. While the field meets approval, not every is as happy with how we got here.
Let’s run down Saturday Down South’s likes and dislikes with the selection process.
- Subjectivity. In years past, the top of the BCS was generally reserved for whatever Power Five team (or teams) had an unblemished record, with little room for movement. While that changed this year — BCS simulations had Alabama ahead of Florida State for the latter part of the season — it gave the committee some flexibility. Florida State didn’t look anything like the best team in the country despite going undefeated, so the committee was free to move them between No. 2 and No. 4 over the course of the season.
- Opponents matter. No longer can teams schedule a cupcake out-of-conference schedule and get away with it. TCU was ranked ahead of Baylor when both had one loss, despite losing the head-to-head matchup between the two, and a big reason is that TCU had the guts to schedule Minnesota, while Baylor played three non-conference opponents that totaled 12 wins. Style points are nice, but proving your mettle is better for the committee.
- Marquee losses are treated kindly. Ole Miss is in a New Year’s Six game despite three losses; all three losses, though, are very forgivable considering their circumstances. Alabama zoomed to No. 1 after knocking off then-No. 1 Mississippi State, despite having a loss to Ole Miss on its record. While there was some concern that the playoff would diminish the importance of the regular season, it really just made the discussion more intense as one-loss teams jockeyed for position.
- Vagueness. This goes hand-in-hand with the subjectivity, but when committee chairman Jeff Long went on television and pulled out a “game control” stat that no one had ever heard of, it tends to be a little frustrating to figure out what the committee’s thinking is. Is there really any explanation for Mississippi State jumping over Michigan State in the final rankings, despite neither playing on Saturday?
- Each week on its own. In the AP and coaches polls, teams can build a body of work over the course of the year. It’s rare to see a team drop drastically without suffering a bad loss. Last week, the committee ranked TCU third. On Sunday, they dropped the Horned Frogs to sixth following a 52-point victory, dropping them behind Baylor in the process. Long gave an “it’s not you, it’s us” reasoning on the selection show, leaving more questions than answers.
- The campaigning. By the end of the season, the selection process had turned into a beauty pageant. Baylor hired a public relations firm. Art Briles, Gary Patterson and Urban Meyer all gave post-game speeches on Saturday that would politicians proud. Jimbo Fisher beat his chest all season talking up the Seminoles. With the BCS, there was none of that, as computers don’t usually hear campaigning.