|TCU coach Gary Patterson and Baylor's Art Briles were not all |
smiles after their teams didn't make The Final Four (AP photo).
Ohio State? C'mon.
If you're a college football fan, I am not going to tell you anything you don't know by now. But I will repeat a thought I offered a month ago: There is no perfect selection system.
If you're not a college football fan, congratulations and Merry Christmas. There are more important things in this world.
I offered my two cents' worth of opinions on the College Football Playoff almost a month ago (http://nvanthyn.blogspot.com/2014/11/picking-final-four-all-just-anyones.html). And here is two more cents' worth.
In my previous blog on the subject, I wrote that I like the idea of a playoff, and I've said that for a few years. I also said that an eight-team playoff is much more preferable than a Final Four. I will stick to that, especially after last Sunday's announcement of this Final Four.
I find it hard to believe The Committee -- the almighty Committee -- gave Alabama a bye into the national championship game.
I am not a betting man; any time I have ever placed a bet, I have lost. But if I had to bet, I would take Alabama over Ohio State 101 out of 100 times.
Know this, though: I am only slightly better at predictions than I am betting. No way did I think Oklahoma -- a 17 1/2-point underdg -- not only would beat Alabama in last season's Sugar Bowl, but dominate the game.
And if you ask me to pick a winner in this season's other Final Four semifinal -- Florida State vs. Oregon in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 ... I have no idea what's going to happen there. But I will say that until Florida State proves it can't come back and win -- as it has so often in its 29-game winning streak -- it is the reigning champion.
So no question about Alabama, Florida State and Oregon making the Final Four (although I would have kept FSU, even as unimpressive as it was at times, at No. 1). It came down to three teams -- Ohio State, TCU and Baylor -- for the No. 4 spot, proving that six does not going into four.
(If the committee had had to pick eight teams, it's true that the debate would have been difficult to pick Nos. 7-8. I repeat: There is always going to be some controversy.)
Fact is, all those teams stumbled some during the season -- and all were resilient to keep on winning. Just an example: Alabama was fortunate to get past Arkansas, LSU and Auburn, but talented enough to do it.
OK, Ohio State. I not a Buckeyes fan, not an Urban Meyer fan. I don't hesitate to point out -- as I did on Twitter -- that while history should not matter, Ohio State has lost six of its last seven postseason games.
Yeah, these Buckeyes kept their poise and rallied through adversity. They beat a very good team (Michigan State) and one supposed to be good (Wisconsin). But the Badgers rolled over last week in the Big Ten championship game, and the program is so sound that the head coach quickly moved on to Oregon State this week.
No doubt -- no doubt -- that 59-0 score swayed The Committee's selection from TCU-or-Baylor to Ohio State. No doubt that two strong, successful football coaches with Big Ten ties on The Committee -- Tom Osborne and Barry Alvarez -- swayed the opinions.
No doubt it kept The Committee from having to pick one of the Big 12's co-champions. TCU and Baylor fans forever will claim their team was better.
I've lived in Texas, in the Fort Worth area, for 13 years, so I have many friends who are fans of TCU or Baylor. I don't root for either school (except Baylor women's basketball because of Louisiana ties). I do think both are terrific universities
But as I am making this argument against Ohio State, I don't think I'm Texas-biased. I watched the teams play -- my "eyeball" test -- and I think TCU was as good as any team in the country. I am on record, on Facebook and Twitter, as saying that a couple of times in the past month.
My opinion is that Gary Patterson -- whose treatment of some of my Fort Worth Star-Telegram co-workers at times has been detestable -- and his staff have done the best coaching job in the country this year. The Frogs are big, fast, well-coached and ... well, they look like an SEC team.
I will say that Patterson -- who often mentions lack of respect for his TCU program and whose chip on his shoulder is as big as the fourth green at Colonial Country Club -- publicly was very classy in his reaction to The Committee's selections.
On one of my daily walks, I had to stop at the TCU Bookstore, where I noticed a man asking about purchasing a TCU Big 12 championship T-shirt. In my usual shy manner, I asked him how he felt about the Final Four selections.
"We got screwed," he said, not as diplomatically as Patterson. "It's all about money. It's always been about money. Until we get a bigger reputation, we'll get left out."
And I agree about "reputation." Ohio State has it -- and the ratings (money) power. I am convinced that if The Committee had been given TCU's list of victories this season and been told that it was Oklahoma or Texas, that team would be in the Final Four.
Committee chairman Jeff Long, the Arkansas athletic director, strongly denied that suggestion and said it was the "body of work" (strength of schedule, maybe) that put Ohio State past TCU and Baylor. Fine, but my biggest complaint -- one I've seen repeatedly this week -- is why did The Committee tease (and deceive) all of us by releasing five weeks of rankings with TCU ahead of Ohio State each time ... and then change it mind/direction the last week?
That's bunk. Advice to The Committee: Next year don't release weekly rankings. Save it all for the end, and let everyone speculate.
When the NCAA does make me the commissioner of college football -- any day now -- the first change will be to go to an eight-team playoff ... provided teams return to 11-game regular-season schedules and/or drop all conference championship games.
In other words, no team should play more than 14 games in a season. Enough already. I do think football players should go to class and work toward graduation. Last I heard college was about earning a degree. (OK, so it's idealistic. I can hear you laughing.)
But my idea is folly because we all know college football mostly is about finances. And if stadiums at most or many of the major-college programs are full anytime they tee it up, the people raking in the money aren't going to be cutting games.
Here is what I would suggest for any program wanting to win the national championship or make the Final Four (or Final Eight), drop those Division I-AA (or Football Championship Subdivision, as it's been known since 2006) opponents. Drop those mid-majors (but Division I), too, if necessary.
Sorry, I know those are "money" games for the smaller schools, games they have to have to make the budget work, to pay for the programs. But those usually easy victories just don't help the big boys.
Baylor, those games with Northwestern State and Buffalo probably kept you out of the Final Four. You'd have been better off with Northwestern and, say, Maryland.
TCU, how about Stanford instead of Samford? We'll give you a plus for Minnesota and, well, SMU (also a Baylor opponent) is a traditional game and, well, the Mustangs should be more competitive.
Why is LSU playing Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe and New Mexico State? Why are Florida Atlantic and Western Carolina on Alabama's schedule (plus Southern Miss isn't as good as it has been in the past)? South Dakota and Wyoming weren't exactly tough opponents for Oregon.
So maybe The Committee looked at Ohio State's schedule and, yes, Kent State was a breather, but it judged Navy, Virginia Tech (which beat the Buckeyes in Columbus) and Cincinnati as a bit tougher than what TCU and Baylor faced. And Florida State -- other than The Citadel -- had strong "name" non-conference opponents in Oklahoma State, Syracuse and Notre Dame.
If I'm on The Committee, I certainly think strength of schedule is a major factor in picking the playoff teams. And because I think the SEC is the best, strongest and deepest conference in the country and has been for a decade -- I'll argue that with anybody -- I would advise any possible contenders from other conferences to put at least one SEC opponent on the schedule each year (but Kentucky and Vanderbilt don't count, unless it's Kentucky in basketball).
Bottom line, I suppose, is that The Committee did the best it could and this is the system we have. We can all complain and debate. We will next year, too.
I know this: I have taken more of your time than necessary, given you much more than two cents' worth. So I'm done because you need to go Christmas shopping. For football fans, happy bowl season.