Playoff Committee Letters Pt. 1

Dear Kirby, 

You are playing a dangerous game. 

I know you shouldn't receive all of the blame. After all, you are just the chairman of a 13 person committee responsible for selecting only four teams to the College Football Playoff. But ranking Georgia and Alabama 1 and 2, only sets the committee up for disaster. 

Out of all the crazy decisions the committee made on their initial poll for the 2017 season, ranking two SEC teams at the very top of the rankings stands above the rest. This decision lacks so much foresight, that it is more bizarre than putting Clemson above Oklahoma, even though Oklahoma has the better win and didn't lose to 4-4 Syracuse team. It is even more bizarre than Ohio State only being ranked one spot higher than Penn State despite out-gaining the Nittany Lions 529-283 (take away a bad special teams play and change the calls on two questionable pass interference penalties and the score could have been 39-14). But despite all of these decisions, favoring the SEC looms large. 

Even though the College Football committee still wants us to believe it is 2009, the SEC is not the conference that it once was. There isn't a single team in the SEC west that has a non-conference win over a Power 5 team with a winning record. Currently, that division's best non-conference win is an LSU victory over that same Syracuse team that beat the committee's fifth favorite team. But that division has losses to TCU, Clemson, California and UCLA (oh and FBS powerhouse Troy).

To its credit the SEC East has fared better. It has wins against Notre Dame (at a neutral site), NC State at home, and Georgia Tech in overtime (who very well might not have a winning record in a few weeks). It is worth pointing out that two of these games were decided by one point, and very well could have, or dare I say, should have been losses. But this same division also has losses to Michigan and 3-5, Purdue. 

Now for a fun experiment: let's compare the resumes of two different teams. Team A is a power-five conference school with a record of 8-0 and has not beaten a quality non-conference opponent. Its opponents have a winning pct of .469 but this percentage is boosted primarily by Fresno State and Colorado State. Team B is a power-five conference school with a record of 8-0 and has also not beaten a quality non-conference opponent. Its opponents have a winning pct of .439 and this percentage is dragged down primarily by BYU.

Would it surprise you if Team A is Alabama and Team B is Wisconsin? Would it surprise you more if the College Football Committee ranked them 2nd and 9th respectively?

Of course, Alabama is a better team than Wisconsin, all you have to do is turn on a television to figure that one out. Still, it doesn't seem fair to punish one team for a poor schedule and not another, especially when Alabama, not Wisconsin, is the one who plays an FCS school.

None of this means that the SEC is bad. It simply means that it is going to be incredibly hard to justify having two teams from the SEC in the playoff. But it certainly means that there is nothing on paper to justify that the SEC is the dominant conference that it once was and the committee certainly has no business putting two teams from arguably the third or fourth best power 5 conference into the playoff. 

Imagine that Georgia, ranked as the best team in the nation, squares off against Alabama in the SEC championship game and loses by anything less than 10 points. How could the committee possibly leave out the top ranked team after that? A loss to the second best team in the country by 10 points, doesn't drop you to 5. That wouldn't make any sense. 

Luckily, Kirby, for you it does. The College Football Playoff Committee has showed time and again that for some nonsensical reason, there is no relationship between the weekly rankings. They blow everything up before releasing a top-25. So for the selection committee the above scenario, which only smells, looks, and tastes like crisis to everyone else, sits perfectly fine with the committee. They will have no problem removing Georgia from the top four after a loss during Championship Weekend and as the SEC has proven this year already, no one else should mind either. 

 

 

Unless otherwise noted, stats found on espn.com