- Will it be Ohio State or Alabama?
- Will the committee send up the white smoke and surprise us all by selecting Southern California?
I don’t know. By the time church is done today, I will. I have the selection show on my Tivo and the interwebs will be screaming it. I’m glad I won’t have to watch the whole show as they drag out the naming of four teams over 60 minutes. Really?
And we know this – there will either be weeping and wailing coming out of Columbus or Tuscaloosa.
Before I make my point, let me make my prediction.
I will make the startling prediction that Clemson will get in! And Georgia. And Oklahoma. If any one of those is left out it will be not only a shocker but something of a scandal. Now for the biggie.
I am fairly confident Ohio State will get the fourth spot.
It would be a little more of a sure thing if Ohio State had won by 21 last night, or 28, instead of playing a fairly sloppy game. But they did dominate the game, if not the scoreboard. If not for the local boy (Van Ginkel – why didn’t he go to Iowa?) it would have been a lot worse.
Frankly, I think an Ohio State-Alabama game would be epic – if the “good” OSU team showed up (and the early season Alabama team). But the factors in making this choice are not right and wrong, justice, or anything of the kind. The committee sits in a room and makes up its own rules as it goes. That’s my point. I spent too much time this last week watching sports “experts” opine and reading about it. There was a pretty general consensus that formed, with a few outliers.
1. The committee tends to value quality wins over losses.
I was horrified to hear Kirk Herbstreit (I think it was him) say that Auburn, with 2 losses, should be ranked #1 in the nation after the Alabama win. He simply ignored the fact that they had lost 2 games – one was to Clemson, wasn’t it? Just discounted their two losses. The committee tends to do that. They value big wins.
Alabama had very few tough games on their schedule. Their strength of schedule rating was pretty low. The SEC is down this year. They have only wins against MSU and LSU on their schedule. OSU had regular season wins against Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan. Now, Wisconsin.
FSU may have killed Bama’s chances. When they met, FSU was ranked high, but now, they are a 6-6 team who didn’t win against a quality team all year. That win means nothing.
The general consensus I heard was the belief that Ohio State beating the last undefeated Power 5 team in the Conference championship would vault them over Alabama. I know the Big 10 West was not that good, but Wisconsin was. Their defense could slow anyone down. Their offense was spotty – that’s why they aren’t playing in the tourney.
2. The committee will choose geographical balance.
If the committee chooses Alabama, all 4 teams will be in what is generally called the South (Oklahoma is sort of Southwest, I suppose). It’s all about money, and I don’t think they are going to want to appeal only to 1/4 of the country.
3. The Big 10 Conference championship shouldn’t be sneezed at.
I know that some SEC fans labor under the delusion of SEC superiority, but I even heard Paul Finebaum say this year that the B1G (I hate that trademark) was the top conference. Last year it was the ACC. But it is unlikely that they will leave out the Big 10 (much better) champion to add a second team from a conference in a down cycle.
OSU would sure like a second crack at Oklahoma, to teach that Baker Mayfield a little sportsmanship and respect! That would be a great game. Of course, when you are dealing with a committee behind locked doors, accountable to no one, anything can happen. They could put Tennessee in there – just to watch the dumpster fire!
Having said all that…
The system stinks. I hate that the national championship will be partially decided by a bunch of men (and women?) sitting in a secret room and picking the teams. The NCAA basketball tourney does that, but there are more distinct criteria and the teams that cry about being left out were only going to hope to win a game, maybe two. No team that was left out was ever going to win.
Either Alabama or Ohio State could easily win it all. The first year of this tournament, TCU might well have been able to win the whole thing, and they were left out. When there are only 4 teams chosen, and a committee, with NO RULES, simply picks four teams based on whatever whims they have at the moment, the chance that a fifth team that has a chance to win it all is left out is high.
The NCAA National Championship should be decided on the FIELD, not in a boardroom.
Teams should play their way in and play their way out. Win games to qualify and lose games to be eliminated. Today, either OSU or BAMA will be eliminated from a title opportunity either could win by a committee decision – and that stinks.
The Miller Solution
I have what seems to me to be a very simple solution. There are some options to it, but the core is set. Honestly, I don’t know if I heard this somewhere else – I likely did. I am not claiming this is completely original.
1. Expand the playoff to 8 teams.
Teams that don’t get in can continue the Bowl series as it has always been. Round 1 begins before New Years. Round 2 on New Years. Championship as it has been.
And, let’s face it, no team outside the top 8 is likely to win, right?
2. Put the champions of the Power 5 conferences in the tournament.
Win and you are in.
The only contingency here is the rankings – who gets #1, #2, etc. That might be unfair, but whatever. You are in the tourney and you have to win 3 games to win it all.
3. That leaves 3 teams to fill out the bracket. There are two ways to go with that.
- Devote a “Cinderella” spot to the lesser conference team that is highest ranked. This year, Scott Frost and UCF would likely be in. Then you could have two wild cards determined by some kind of rankings formula – or by a committee.
- Or, simply designate 3 other conferences that seem to have the next level of teams and take their champs. Win and you are in. I like this one because it rewards winning in the regular season and takes it completely out of the hands of some random bunch of people in a secret room.
- And yes, you could tell Notre Dame that if they want to get into the playoff, they need to get into a conference.
It irks me that we are awaiting the college of cardinals to send up a signal and choose their candidates. There are more than 4 worthy candidates for the national championship. There are actually 6 – Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, OSU, Alabama, and USC. You could even argue that one-loss Wisconsin should be a 7th team. I hate that the national championship will be influenced by “judges” who are often biased, sometimes, corrupt, and always confusing.