Sometimes, I hate being right. The playoff selection process is so laden with bias and status quo that here at Somanystadiums we were able to fully predict the playoff field with all the “championship games” yet to be played.
Some things we knew right off the bat:
Alabama was in, win or lose. Even if the Tide had lost by 35, they were in under the “We want the four best teams” sentiment. The premise is fine if you have an eight field team where you can give a Power Five team a break for the one-off loss. However, it makes conference championship games meaningless. Bama has looked great all year so they were automatically in, win or lose.
Notre Dame was in, win or lose. This is all about the national team / east coast bias for the Irish. They are a good team, and at times, a great team. I would have given this spot to Texas A&M. But, I have seen A&M play a few times this year and their case is only a little bit stronger. We are talking feet, not yards if you are looking for a football analogy. Nonetheless, I’d rather see the Aggies than the Irish. I think ND is going to get crushed by the Tide. Having already played them once, I give A&M a better shot.
Clemson had to win to get in. I think everyone knows they are heads and shoulders better than ND, but they had to prove it. They don’t get the old school, east-coast bias benefit that ND does today so a win was a must.
Ohio State was in the same boat, but only because they had played six games. To be fair, the Buckeyes have been winning with a lot of backups thanks to Covid-19 precautions. If Ohio State had rolled into the Big Ten championship 11-0, they would have gotten the east coast bias, beauty contest playoff bid. Of course, you could argue the Big Ten already gave them that gift when they changed the conference requirement rules. Like it or not, the Buckeyes did take care of business.
This left Texas A&M hoping for some upsets. None of which happened. Gig’ em next year.
As Bruce Hornsby sings, “Did you really think about it before you made the rules?” This is not the way it should be. The playoffs should be an eight team field team with the following fully transparent rules.
1) Power Five conference winners get an automatic bid.
2) Undefeated Group of Five conference winners get an automatic bid.
3) Remaining slots filled by Selection Committee ranking.
With that in mind, this is what it should look like.
Bama is still the number one seed and they get the Oregon Ducks, as PAC 12 champions. I hate that the Ducks get in over say a Florida or Coastal Carolina, but by virtue of winning their conference, they are in. If Florida had beaten Texas A&M, they would have been in a much different spot. Plus, this season is different and giving a PAC 12 team a shot would be a lot more inclusive. The PAC 12 winner would not be nearly as problematic if the USC Trojans had taken care of business in the first place.
Notre Dame still gets in with an at-large bid and the four seed based on the selection committee ranking (thank you very much east coast bias). Texas A&M gets the other at-large bid and comes in at five. Honestly, isn’t this the game you wanted to see anyway? It allows the arguments to be settled on the field instead of in a hotel conference room.
Clemson rightly gets the number two seed and would play the Bearcats of Cincinnati. The Bearcats are undefeated and won the American Athletic Conference. Congrats Group of Five, you wanted it, you got it.
Ohio State gets the third seed and will play Oklahoma, the Big 12 Champion. Is Florida better than Oklahoma? The selection committee didn’t think so, having put the Sooners one spot ahead of the Gators.
The big losers in my eight game scenario are the following:
Florida. The Gators looked awfully good on offense against Bama. It feels like they could keep up with anyone in a shoot-out. Again though, when a team loses three games, it is hard to feel too badly for them.
Coastal Carolina. Let me be clear, had the Chanticleers beaten Louisiana (Lafayette) in the now cancelled Sunbelt Championship, they would have rightfully knocked out Texas A&M, only because the committee rated ND ahead of them. However, since this is a purely hypothetical bracket. I would suggest the Committee put A&M above Notre Dame. This way, you would get some great regional games that feel very much like first round playoffs. Coastal would play Clemson, OU would take on Texas A&M, and Cincinnati would play the Buckeyes. Plus, college football fans get the added bonus of watching Irish fans go apoplectic and wail at the injustice of it all. My work here is done.
I am not alone in my assessment of the challenges facing the current system. You know there are problems when even the NCAA poster boys at ESPN’s Game Day are bad mouthing the college playoff system. As an aside, it was not exactly a great year for Game Day. From the forced and tenuous connection between The Masters and college football to backdrops with no audiences, the show really never caught its stride this year. The Bear’s Bank segments feel like they have run their course. When your picks are hitting only half the time, it’s the equivalent of a Christmas Club savings account – a feel good endeavor at best, and wasting away money at the worst.
But it wasn’t just ESPN that struggled. Some of the weekends, let alone games, were unwatchable this year. I am not sure that is the fault of anyone, it was just the way Covid-19 impacted the season. Thankfully, the precautions, by and large, kept most everyone safe. Sadly, though, there were some outliers. With that in mind, please celebrate the holidays with as much care and responsibility as possible. Let’s make 2021 a better year in every sense of the word.
It is championship weekend in college football. With the current playoff approach in the FBS, this weekend is at best, a slate with one or two big games and at worst, a weekend of frustration coupled with a false sense of importance. This year it is definitely the latter rather than the former. You might as well call this “Whoever is healthy enough to play weekend” with the Sunbelt game between Louisiana and Coastal Carolina being cancelled and Oregon being the substituted for Washington for the PAC 12 championship. The Cajuns against the Chanticleers was one of the games that actually had some appeal this weekend. As for the PAC 12, they, again, made the case for being the weakest of the Power 5 as USC managed to lose to the understudy Ducks of Oregon.
These examples are the appetizer to the real problem of championship weekend and that lies with the moronic approach to the college football playoffs. I will save my full diatribe for after selection Sunday, but suffice it to say, this is a beauty contest. Case in point, does anyone believe that Alabama won’t be in the playoff even if they lose the SEC Championship game? Likewise, if Notre Dame loses a close game to Clemson, do they still get in? And then what happens to Florida or A&M? I can tell you what won’t happen. Cincinnati could beat Tulsa by 50 and they still aren’t getting in.
Now, I get it. This year is so goofy it does not really matter. This year’s national championship is, well, asterisk worthy. Of course, this begs the question, “Then, why not expand to eight teams?” Hard to make a case about safety when most teams did not play a full slate and frankly, games were played during a pandemic anyway. It is also hard to argue that you can’t do it from a logistic perspective. One of the best games this season, BYU versus Coastal Carolina, was scheduled on a Wednesday and played three days later. I don’t know what is more unsettlingly, that Alabama could roll out their jayvees without about impacting their playoff spot, or that those jayvees would still roll Florida by 20.
In other notes, I tried to assemble the December SI Wall Calendar with only red and green covers for Christmas. As you can see, it was not exactly the effect I was looking for. Surprisingly, there were not enough solidly colored covers. By the end of the month, I was forced to go with silver and gold as well. This effort was a definite fail. I will add it to the list of 2020 disappointments. I can tell you what my early Christmas wish is. Florida thumps Bama, Notre Dame crushes Clemson, Tennessee upsets A&M and Northwestern upsets Ohio State. Let’s see what the selection committee does then.
Doubt that’s going to happen, so I will settle for a some good games.
If there was ever a year that you’d say a Hokie is a Turkey, it would be 2020. The only thing the Hokies have to be thankful for is that they don’t have to play Clemson until next week.
This week is normally one of the best weeks in college football. There’s nothing like rivalry week to bring out the best in teams. Alas, Covid-19 has claimed this weekend, with several traditional rivalry games not being played.
Typically, Thursday is for the NFL. Unfortunately, we’re getting the brussels sprouts (Houston versus Detroit) and lima bean casserole (Washington versus Dallas) of Thanksgiving games, with the stuffing (Ravens versus Steelers) relegated to Sunday leftovers. Thankfully, the NCAA has responded with University of New Mexico (0-4) versus Utah State University (0-4). Mmmm, creamed onions anyone?
Friday’s slate improves if you were looking for an excuse for not putting up the Christmas lights. ISU at Texas and ND at UNC should prove to be watchable. If you must get out of the house, there’s still tickets available for UMass at Liberty, although they are bit pricey.
Liberty is a dry campus but I hear that Falwell’s tailgate is jumping. Just ask for the signature drink, “The Pool Boy”.
ABC’s big game on noon EST is PSU at Michigan. Hmm, anyone up for Maryland versus Indiana? The Iron Bowl is still a thing this year, but does it count with Saban watching from his den? Well, maybe he can catch up on his Aflac paperwork. If your family Thanksgiving was cancelled, you still have a chance to get Covid-19 . There’s going to be a super spreader event at College Station this weekend as the Texas A&M hosts LSU. Wear those masks Aggie faithful.
Meh. That summarizes my feeling about college football this year. You can see my malaise by my lack of updates. You know things are bad when ESPN felt they had to spice up Gameday by holding it at the Masters last week. Look, Augusta is beautiful and all, but Golf versus Football? No contest.
I had hoped to catch the Navy SMU game on Halloween but I could not convince my wife to go with me. Normally, I would go solo to a game like that in a worst case scenario but Covid protocols fundamentally altered the economics of that game. I would have had to buy four tickets. The SMU Mustangs program is in a bit of a resurgence, but $150 to sit in a 3/4 empty stadium of a Group of Five team was not happening.
Today, Gameday is at Oklahoma for Bedlam. It is another grim reminder of what could have been. Bedlam was our big group game of the year. We had locked it in after the Va Tech – Notre Dame game last year. Alas, the original date was scrubbed and moved to this weekend. Either way, we weren’t going. MEH indeed.
This week’s games?
Bedlam – Ok State vs Oklahoma, I guess is the best game on the slate. Still don’t believe in OK State. They have to prove it to me.
App St vs Coastal Carolina – Hard to believe the Chanticleers are undefeated, but App State is the big dog in the Sun Belt. Time to earn your stripes Coastal
Indiana vs Ohio State. – I am hopeful the Hoosiers can hang. Unfortunately, I am also doubtful that they can run with the Buckeyes
Cincy vs UFC – Another Group of Five game that may be better than anything the ACC or SEC is highlighting this weekend.
Even the November SI Calendar is down on college football. Til next week, I guess.
Last week’s games were pretty good, but it is clear that College Football is better with the BIG 10 and PAC 12 than without. Thankfully, there’s only one week to go until the BIG 10 season kicks off. It is hard to believe the PAC 12 doesn’t kick off until November 7. From the polls to the playoffs, this whole season should just carry a big asterisk. Look, this season is a welcome diversion but it is hard to consider it a valid one. The inconsistency in schedules and the high number of cancellations make it even more difficult to assess who the best teams are. It doesn’t make the eventual national championship meaningless, just diminished. With that, some random thoughts on last week games before I weigh in on this week’s slate.
Last week’s games:
I still don’t know if the Aggies are for real, but upsetting Florida is a step in the right direction.
I find Gus Johnson hard to listen to. He is constantly shouting, often trying to make drama where there is none. He also has a tendency latch on to one theme throughout the game. For a minute during the OU Texas game, Johnson almost had me convinced Ehlinger could walk on water. Look, Ehlinger had an inspired game, but the fairy tale ending that Johnson was crafting was ruined when the QB threw a game ending pick. And for once, Johnson was speechless.
VT – UNC game mildly entertaining. Not sure how good UNC’s offense really is. Beating up 3rd string walk-on DBs isn’t exactly impressive. I should known since I was one.
You have to wonder if Orgeron at LSU is distracted with personal issues. The Tigers don’t look like themselves. Missouri beating LSU was certainly a surprise.
I have been keeping a close eye on the stands because I still hope to catch at least one game this year. In general, the adults have been social distancing but not the students. I wonder what that is going to look like in three weeks
Auburn got a gift on the fumble call on the clocking of the ball. Felipe Franks was something else for the Hogs. The Tigers were very lucky to win that game.
The rockhead move of the week was George Pickens from Georgia spraying water on the Tennessee QB on the sidelines. It wasn’t malevolent but it was stupid.
And no, Miami is not back. They are better, but Clemson still handled them.
Week 7 Games
There’s already been two great Sun Belt games. The locations of the schools may not always be easy to get to, but the teams are entertaining. Trust me, I have been to both Arkansas State (pre Waterfall) and Troy. Still, the Sun Belt is the Fun Belt.
Even with Saban out with Covid-19, Georgia at Alabama should still be a great game. Finally a prime time game worth its slot.
Don’t complain LSU and Florida for having your game postponed. Houston plays BYU this weekend. It is their second game of the season.
The best game of the day may be Army at UTSA. If not for Covid, I would have strongly considered driving over to San Antonio to watch that game live.
Again, not the meatiest tray of games this weekend. Still, it is better than nothing.