College Football Playoff

Broken System

By: Mike Anthony

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The latest College Football Playoff rankings are out and – just as all of these releases are, up until the final one – it’s just a song and dance meant to drive argument and interest in the race for the four spots in the championship postseason.

It really doesn’t matter that Ohio State is ahead of LSU. The Tigers could very well pull ahead with a win, in what will be perceived as a tougher matchup in its conference championship game.

It really doesn’t matter that Georgia is fourth while Alabama is fifth. A win for the Bulldogs in the SEC title game will guarantee them a spot – and a higher seed – in the playoff, while Alabama knows all about sitting out of a conference championship game and moving up by default.

It really doesn’t matter that Clemson has pinballed around the rankings so far. They’re the defending national champions and they’ll be in the playoff so long as they remain undefeated.

In the end, everything seems to be on a crash course for yet another round of bashing the selection committee for including one team while leaving out another. And when you look at the big picture, the NCAA has brought a lot of that scorn upon itself.

Of the 10 conferences in FBS football, there is a split between the ‘Power 5’ and the ‘Group of 5’. Those names weren’t originally created by the NCAA, but the association acknowledged the split several years ago when it set special stipulations to mandate that at least one G5 team is represented in the six major New Year’s bowls.

But, by doing that, the NCAA has stepped in an even bigger puddle. There is now a de facto admission that five conferences are seen as superior and will get preference in rankings and bowl allotments.

That much isn’t so bad as the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC consistently put forth the best teams in the country. But the problem arises when elementary math takes over and there are five power conference champions and only four playoff spots.

It’s as if a ship named five officers and only provided four lifejackets to go between them. Regardless of anyone else on board who is deserving of a vest, it’s impossible for anything other than a power struggle to result.

There have been plenty of years in which a P5 conference hasn’t produced a national championship-caliber team. And there have been years where one P5 conference has objectively had two of the best four teams in the nation that both deserve to play on.

Of course, there are also about a half-dozen instances dating back to the BCS days where a G5 team went undefeated and wasn’t even allowed the ability to keep playing toward a national championship before being dismissed and cast aside while P5 schools battled it out.

With P5 conference members given more of a benefit of the doubt for losses and those same teams mostly controlling who and when and where they play any non-conference game, it’s almost guaranteed that every season will end with a couple of shoe-in playoff teams, along with about a half-dozen other P5s with solid cases to make and a few G5s who can’t get the time of day due to their PERCEIVED lack of schedule strength.

It’s past time for the playoff to expand. If the P5 schools are so far above the rest, then each of the conference champions should have a chance to play for a title. And when great G5 teams get bashed for their schedule, it should be taken with a grain of salt since obviously no P5 squad wanted to bring them in for a perceived easy win.

There are too many teams and not enough weeks to work out a perfect regular season that produces a unanimously agreed upon playoff field. So, it’s up to the powers that be to come up with something that isn’t designed to ensure plenty of legitimate contenders left on the sidelines each fall.

Who’s In….Over Georgia?

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

At this point in the season it is almost a foregone conclusion that Alabama and Georgia will meet up not only for the SEC Championship title game, but will enter that game as the first and second ranked teams in college football.

If that scenario were to play out obviously the winner would make it to the playoffs. The more interesting topic to me is would a 1-loss SEC runner-up make it too?

There are probably about 20 different hypothetical outcomes, but for this purpose I’ll go ahead and put Oklahoma in the playoffs (wins out including Big XII championship) and Alabama. (No disrespect to Georgia who could easily win the SEC, but it’s easier to go over scenarios for one SEC team as opposed to two, and as of today I personally think Alabama is the better team).

So, with two teams already in the playoff picture, who are some of the other teams Georgia would be contending with.

Wisconsin– It would be hard on paper to leave out an undefeated Big Ten champion, if that’s what ends up happening. However, I don’t think the Badgers are very good and their best win will be against,ultimately, a 3 loss Ohio State team.

Regardless of what the committee does, you can’t convince me they are better than Georgia.

Clemson– If the Tigers were to win out and take the ACC crown, they’re in no matter what. Defending champs, conference champs, impressive resumé, only 1 loss; there’s no way the committee will keep them out.

Another loss though, and I don’t see how they make it.

Miami- I haven’t thought all that much of the Hurricanes throughout the season, but if they were to win out that would include victories over Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and Clemson.

Hard to put Georgia in over Miami if that were take place. (On a side note, if Miami made it in over Georgia what’s the over/under on the amount time elapsed before a video of Mark Richt urinating in a stuffed Uga goes viral?)

Notre Dame- The Fighting Irish are really the wild card here.

If they were to win out, it would include a victory over Miami, essentially knocking out the Hurricanes.

It would also leave them tied with Georgia, leading to the question, “What do you value more, head to head or overall strength of schedule?”

If you’re a Bulldog fan, you’re going to say head to head, as you should. If you’re a Notre Dame fan, it’s overall strength of schedule. And while it’s not completely an apples to apples comparison, it is worth mentioning that last year, when it came down to OSU and PSU, the commute went in favor of Ohio State’s overall schedule instead of Penn State’s victory over the Buckeyes.

As I mentioned above there are plenty of other scenarios that could play out over the next few makes, making what I just wrote entirely obsolete.

Regardless, here’s the point I’m trying to make: In the last few years, you could argue that a one loss, SEC runner up was deserving of making the playoffs because of the conference’s overall strength.

Ironically, the one year it may come to fruition, the one year where the two best teams in college football could possibly reside within the SEC, is the one year that the conference’s lack of overall strength may be what keeps it from happening.

Future of College Football Playoff

kenBy: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We’re in year three of the College Football Playoffs and the four teams were announced to play for the National Title. I don’t have a problem with the teams that were picked but it made me stop and think about the selection process.

Some analysts point to Washington (12-1) and say a team with two loses like Penn State or Michigan is more deserving because they played a tougher non-conference schedule. I disagree but I think things should be more uniformed across college football to leave everyone with an equal playing field.

The first major change should require all Power 5 conferences to play an equal amount of conference games. For instance, the Pac 12, Big Ten and Big 12 all play nine conference games. Two leagues with fourteen members, the ACC and SEC play eight conference games. It was proposed two years ago that the SEC might add an additional conference game and it was overwhelmingly shot down.

“This has been a thoughtful and deliberative process that has resulted in maintaining the current format and adds a provision that will bolster our collective annual non-conference schedule,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. “Critical to maintaining this format is the non-conference opponent factor which gives us the added strength-of-schedule we were seeking while allowing continued scheduling flexibility for institutional preferences, and acknowledges that many of our institutions already play these opponents.”

That’s a very interesting comment because what actually happens is a lot of teams backload their schedule with a cupcake opponent. Half of the league did that in the second to last week of the season. Several played FCS opponents: Alabama played Chattanooga, Auburn played Alabama A&M, South Carolina played Western Carolina and Kentucky played Austin Peay. Some played weak FBS opponents, for instance Georgia played Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas A&M played Texas-San Antonio. These are all basically glorified scrimmages before the season finale.

I also think since there are only four playoff spots we should rethink having five major conferences since they don’t all play by the same rules. I think the Big 12 should not be considered a Power conference anymore. They are the only conference that does not play a conference championship game since the league has had less than the required twelve teams after the 2010 season.

I think they enjoy not having to play the conference championship game for a couple of reasons. The first thing is since they only have ten teams they divide revenue amongst those universities. If they add members that will decrease the amount of money each school receives.

It’s also easier for a team to play one less game and stay in the hunt for a national championship. They have had a few teams in contention for the national title until they lost the Big 12 championship. In 1996 No. 3 Nebraska (10-1) lost to Texas. In 1998 No. 2 Kansas State (11-0) lost to Texas A&M and in 2003 No. 1 Oklahoma (12-0) got blown out by Kansas State.

I think they have been taking the easy way out by not expanding and they should be punished for that. Maybe the American Athletic Conference should become a Power 5 conference to replace them.

Who Will Be in the College Football Playoffs?

kenBy: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We’re reaching the home stretch of the college football season. We had one of the most chaotic Saturday’s in recent memory. It was the first time Nos. 2,3 and 4 lost in the AP Poll since 1985. Now the rankings are shaken up. I’ll examine the teams most likely to make the playoffs.

Alabama (10-0) has been the most dominant team this season and their still undefeated.

Their final two regular season games are at home against FCS Chattanooga and No. 16 Auburn. The SEC Championship game opponent is not set yet. Right now they would face Florida.

The East is so bad it doesn’t matter who the opponent is. The Crimson Tide are basically a lock to finish the season undefeated and remain No. 1.

With all of the upsets Ohio State (9-1) benefitted the most moving up to No. 2. Their last games are at Michigan State and at home against No. 4 Michigan. The Spartans (3-7) are having a subpar year so this should be an easy win.

The rivalry game against Michigan (9-1) will be tough. The Wolverines lost their starting quarterback Wilton Speight with a broken collarbone. That should increase OSU’s chances of winning.

The odd thing is even after winning their last two games they aren’t expected to play in the Big Ten Championship game. Penn State beat the Buckeyes so if they win their last two games they’ll represent the East in the championship game. Now we have to wonder if the committee will hold that against them.

No. 3 Louisville (9-1) is in the same situation as Ohio State. The Cardinals lost to Clemson so the tiebreaker belongs to the Tigers. Clemson will represent the Atlantic division in the conference championship game if they win their final conference game.

The one advantage Louisville has is they have the best player in the country, quarterback Lamar Jackson. He’s the clear cut favorite to win the Heisman. The playoff selection committee might choose the Cardinals to represent the ACC despite not winning the conference.

Michigan’s last two opponents are Indiana and Ohio State. If they can pull the upset on the road against OSU they’ll play in the conference championship game. Winning that will guarantee them a spot in the playoffs. I don’t like that the Wolverines have lost their starting QB but winning is still possible. We saw Ohio State win the 2014 national championship with a 3rd string quarterback.

No. 5 Clemson (9-1) should have easy wins to finish the season. They play Wake Forest and South Carolina. Their opponent in the ACC Championship will be Virginia Tech or North Carolina.

Washington dropped from No. 4 to No. 7 after losing to USC. The Huskies play Arizona State and at No. 20 Washington State. The Apple Cup game against the Cougars will be tough.

I’m not sure if they’ll win but if they do they will represent the Pac 12 North in the championship game. Currently they would play Colorado but that can change.

The last two weeks should be very exciting to watch. Alabama is guaranteed to finish and stay No. 1.

Ohio State and Clemson will also make the playoffs. The final spot is tricky. If Washington wins out they will be in but if they lose I’m not sure who the fourth team will be.