Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State Head To College Football Playoffs

You've got your playoff College Football fans, as imperfect as it was inevitably going to be.

College Football Championship Trophy

After years of controversy about the manner in which the champion of Division I-A, or Football Bowl Division, as it is more properly known, football is chosen in the NCAA, it was just about a year ago that it was announced that the Bowl Championship Series would be replaced starting this season with a playoff system in which four teams would be selected to play in designated Bowl Games which would serve as playoffs, which the winner of each respecting game meeting a week later in new National Championship Game. The biggest difference between the B.C.S. and the new system would be the fact that the teams would be ranked and selected by committee rather than by computer algorithms, and that people who had been lobbying for a playoff would finally get what they wanted. The committee, which is made up of college officials as well as people from the outside, including Stanford Provost and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, the Committee announced its final selections today shortly before the N.F.L. kicked off its early Sunday games, and there’s likely to be as much controversy about their picks as there was about the manner in which the B.C.S. worked:

 The College Football Playoff selection committee revealed its first four-team bracket on Sunday, seeding Alabama No. 1, Oregon No. 2, Florida State No. 3 and Ohio State No. 4. Two Big 12 teams, Baylor and Texas Christian, were left out as the fifth and sixth seeds.

Under the Football Bowl Subdivision’s new playoff system, the top-seeded team is placed in the semifinal bowl where it has more of a home-field advantage. So Alabama will play Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, in New Orleans, and Oregon will face Florida State in the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena, Calif. Both of those games are on Jan. 1.

The winners will play for the national title on Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex.

The committee was set to release its final top 25, as well as the matchups for the four other playoff-affiliated bowls, later on Sunday afternoon.

The Buckeyes (12-1), who routed Wisconsin, 59-0, in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night, edged out the Big 12 co-champions, Baylor (11-1) and T.C.U. (11-1), in the final seedings. T.C.U., ranked third by the committee last Tuesday, spent Saturday afternoon dispatching a weak Iowa State team, 55-3.

The Horned Frogs’ sole loss came at Baylor on Oct. 11 after the Bears staged a 24-point fourth-quarter comeback. On Sunday, Baylor was ranked one spot ahead of T.C.U.

Baylor did nearly all it could this season. In addition to beating T.C.U., the Bears defeated Oklahoma and Kansas State. Their only loss came at West Virginia. But that 41-27 defeat on Oct. 18 most likely did not hurt the Bears as much as their comparatively weak schedule did. Outside conference play, Baylor faced two lowly F.B.S. teams and a Football Championship Subdivision squad.

The committee also presumably felt that the Big 12 was not quite up to the standards of some of the other major conferences.

Many will accuse the Big 12 of bungling the way it handled its championship. It is the sole major conference with just 10 teams, meaning it is the only one that does not stage a conference championship game. The lack of a title game eliminates a 13th game — and a competitive one at that — from its two best teams’ schedules, putting them at a disadvantage when compared with the other major conferences’ eight finalists.

The Big 12 had another problem. The conference recently introduced the motto “One True Champion” to emphasize that its teams played all the other conference teams during the regular season.

The Buckeyes (12-1), who routed Wisconsin, 59-0, in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night, edged out the Big 12 co-champions, Baylor (11-1) and T.C.U. (11-1), in the final seedings. T.C.U., ranked third by the committee last Tuesday, spent Saturday afternoon dispatching a weak Iowa State team, 55-3.

The Horned Frogs’ sole loss came at Baylor on Oct. 11 after the Bears staged a 24-point fourth-quarter comeback. On Sunday, Baylor was ranked one spot ahead of T.C.U.

Baylor did nearly all it could this season. In addition to beating T.C.U., the Bears defeated Oklahoma and Kansas State. Their only loss came at West Virginia. But that 41-27 defeat on Oct. 18 most likely did not hurt the Bears as much as their comparatively weak schedule did. Outside conference play, Baylor faced two lowly F.B.S. teams and a Football Championship Subdivision squad.

The committee also presumably felt that the Big 12 was not quite up to the standards of some of the other major conferences.

Many will accuse the Big 12 of bungling the way it handled its championship. It is the sole major conference with just 10 teams, meaning it is the only one that does not stage a conference championship game. The lack of a title game eliminates a 13th game — and a competitive one at that — from its two best teams’ schedules, putting them at a disadvantage when compared with the other major conferences’ eight finalists.

The Big 12 had another problem. The conference recently introduced the motto “One True Champion” to emphasize that its teams played all the other conference teams during the regular season.

This last part seemed to be confirmed in comments that Jeff Long, the  chairman of the committee, made after the selections were announced on ESPN this afternoon. In that interview, Long specifically cited Ohio State’s dominating performance against last night against Wisconsin not withstanding that its offense was headed up by what amounted to the team’s third strong Quarterback Cardale Jones, who took the position over from J.T. Barrett during last Saturday’s game against Michigan due to Barrett’s injury, Barrett in turn had taken the position over earlier in the season when starting QB Braxton Miller was injured. While long didn’t come right out and say it, it seemed apparent from his comments that the ambiguity regarding the Big 12 Championship, which exists both because the “Big 12” presently only has ten teams and the fact that the Conference decided to take the root of designating a champion without really designating a champion noted above, worked against both Texas Christian University and Baylor, the other two teams considered to be on the bubble headed into today’s final selection. Indeed, heading into today TCU had been ranked at No. 3 and the team had won its game against an unranked 2-10 Iowa State quite decisively yesterday. Baylor, meanwhile had previously been ranked at No. 6 behind Ohio State and won its game over No. 9 Kansas State 37-28.  In the end, then it seems clear that it was Ohio State’s 59-0 win over Wisconsin, which secured the Buckeyes the Big Ten Championship for the first time since the conference had established a Championship Game, that seems to have been the decisive factor.

No doubt fans of Baylor and TCU, along with the teams that end up getting ranked at Nos, 7 and 8 will find some objections about how this ranking ended up, but it seems like the committee got it right. While there are arguments that could be made on behalf of both teams, the fact that their schedules weren’t any more challenging than Ohio State’s, and in some cases arguably weaker given the fact that they both went up against the rather pathetic SMU and won by wide margins, combined with the lack of a clear Conference Champion in the Big 12 makes it hard to argue that either team was better over all than the Buckeyes to the extent that they deserved the fourth spot over the Buckeyes. Additionally, as I noted when I wrote about the new system several weeks ago, a controversy like this at the end of the season was rather inevitable because, in the end, the new system isn’t going to be all that much better than the B.C.S. was and, when you factor in the role that the committee plays in the process, the subjectivity inherent in human judgment probably makes it inevitable that it would suffer from problems of its own. Many observers have suggested that the playoffs should be expanded to eight teams, and that, or something that involves Conference Championships playing a larger role, may very well happen at some point down the road. The current system is with us for at least next next decade, though, so fans better get used to it, and to the arguments that will inevitably occur at the end of the season.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Davebo says:

    As much as I’d have love to have seen Baylor or TCU get in I can’t argue with the committee’s decision.

    And hey, Big 12, if your going to have a season long ad campaign about “One True Champion” you should probably make sure you end up with One True Champion.

  2. Console says:

    If there was no playoff, this would have been and even bigger nightmare for the BCS. The BCS game would have been FSU vs. Alabama. And if Alabama won, are you going to tell me with a straight face that they’d be unanimous champions?

  3. al-Ameda says:

    West Coast: Go Nike! (errrrrrr … Oregon).