What are your plans Tuesday night?
Whatever they might be, do not tune in to watch the made-for-TV, dog-and-pony show. Of course, we’re talking about the initial College Football Playoff rankings extravaganza starring Jeff Long.
At 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, all eyes will be on Chairman Long, and every word out of his mouth – in addition to the rankings – will be analyzed and dissected all week long.
But if you’re a real college football fan, this is what you should be doing Tuesday night: Go on a date. Have dinner with your mother. Watch “Bridge of Spies” (highly recommended by this professional historian). Do whatever it is that you like to do, just stay away from your TV or WatchESPN app.
Why? Because the committee’s rankings have absolutely no meaning. Not this week. Not next week. Not any week except for the final week.
But what about all the “messages” the committee is supposedly sending each week? Last year “game control” and “quality loss” – among others – entered the lexicon of college football. According to Long, we’re supposed to see beyond the final score, but how each game is played out in its entirety.
Hogwash (pun intended). These are just buzzwords conjured up by Long, who moonlights as Arkansas’ athletic director, to help the network gin up interest in the made-for-TV, dog-and-pony show.
We know this now because we all fell for it last year. We awaited the committee’s rankings with bated breath each week and then broke them down diligently, trying to divine meaning from them. At the end, we realized that we were snookered, because the committee’s only guiding principle turned out to be “making up (stuff) as we go.”
No. 16, that’s where Ohio State was ranked in the committee’s initial rankings last year. In fact, the Buckeyes were never in the committee’s top four until the very last rankings (the only one that counts). Ohio State jumped three teams that never lost another game in the regular season’s final six weeks (TCU, Baylor and Ole Miss) before squeezing into the playoff and pulling off two upsets to win the inaugural CFP championship.
While the 12 members of the committee (now minus USC’s Pat Haden, who quit last week) got together for the first time this season, don’t take their first rankings too seriously. It’s doubtful they’d been able to get too much out of last weekend’s games anyway since five of the top seven teams in the AP poll were idle and every team ranked in the top 20 either won or didn’t play.
So take our advice. Save those precious fall Tuesdays. It’s fine to just tune in on Dec. 6.
ACC’s officiating fiasco
Officially, Miami pulled off a The Play-esque kickoff return to beat Duke in an amazing finish. After Duke had scored presumably the game-winning touchdown with 6 seconds left, the Hurricanes used eight laterals before Corn Elder found room to sprint down the left sideline for an improbable 30-27 victory.
There’s just one problem – actually, several. There were flags on the field for illegal block on Miami. One of the Hurricanes had his knee down before executing the lateral. And there were extra Miami players (one without even a helmet on) sprinting onto the field before Elder reached the end zone.
Yet, after a NINE-minute review, the ACC replay official couldn’t locate the downed Miami player and the crew on the field decided to pick up the flag on the illegal block (even though that foul was not reviewable). The only way to read this is that the officials were hellbent to allow the play stand.
Maybe this is karma for Duke because Coach K has been allegedly getting favorable calls for decades. But had this play happened at Doak-Campbell in Tallahassee instead of football-agnostic Durham, the review’s outcome might’ve been very different.
The ACC did acknowledge the egregious errors Sunday, suspending the officiating and replay crew two games. But that’s of little solace to the Blue Devils.
Game of the Week
Stanford 30, Washington State 28: The Cardinal rallied from a 12-point deficit and then survived the Cougars’ upset bid when Erik Powell’s 43-yard attempt sailed wide right as time expired. In a game fitting for “Pac-12 After the Dark,” Washington State was on the verge of taking over the Pac-12 North lead but was done in by Stanford QB Kevin Hogan’s legs, as he ran for 112 yards on 14 carries and scored two second-half TDs in the Cardinal comeback.
Player of the Week
Keenan Reynolds, Navy: The senior quarterback scored the game-clinching touchdown with 1:49 remaining in a 29-17 victory over South Florida. Reynolds, who rushed for 117 yards and a pair of fourth-quarter TDs, tied Wisconsin’s Montee Ball for most career rushing TDs (77) in FBS history as Navy remains unbeaten in American Athletic Conference play.
But if you must, this is our projection of the committee’s top 10 teams: 1. LSU, 2. Clemson, 3. Michigan State, 4. TCU, 5. Baylor, 6. Ohio State, 7. Alabama, 8. Stanford, 9. Notre Dame, 10. Florida.
Keep in mind this isn’t how we would rank the teams, but rather, our speculation on how the committee would do it.