Well, that was embarrassing.
Four days after the playoff selection committee inexplicably ranked Texas A&M fourth in its initial 2016 rankings, the Aggies were dumped by lowly Mississippi State, which is struggling to gain bowl eligibility. Washington, a team that should’ve been in the top four, routed California and by all reasonable measure ought to be in the committee’ top four this week.
But don’t bet on it.
It’s entirely plausible for the committee to anoint one-loss Ohio State as its new No. 4, ahead of unbeaten Washington this week. Chairman Kirby Hocutt will give his spin as to why this is so and a new round of talking points will spring to life for the rest of the week.
On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with this, right? The whole point of having the weekly rankings release is to gin up interest in college football, so a little controversy is good for business, no?
There is just one problem. The selection committee is fast losing credibility and worse yet, being seen by a significant group of fans as having a bias. That, in the long run, is bad for college football.
The bias accusation surfaced with the very first committee rankings in history, back in 2014, when three of the top four teams were from the SEC. In both 2015 and ’16, the initial rankings also contained two SEC teams each in the top four. No Pac-12 or Big 12 teams were ever ranked in the initial top four in the three-year existence of the CFP.
The Big 12 was excluded from the first year of the playoff. The Pac-12 in the second. And this year, it looks like the Big 12 is already done while the committee is looking for every excuse to snub the Pac-12 as well – at least that’s the perception.
Washington’s exclusion from the top four in the first rankings generated much howling, especially on the West Coast. While for the most part everybody understands that the weekly committee rankings – except for the final – mean very little, the appearance that there’s an agenda at work is already undermining the process.
As much as the BCS was flawed, there at least was a measure of transparency. The 12-member committee of the CFP, however, answers to no one and each individual never had to share his or her ballot with the public, unlike voters in the AP and coaches polls (or the Harris Poll under the BCS).
The committee is essentially acting the same way as the Politburo of the old Soviet Union, a supreme ruling body that’s unelected and unaccountable. It issues inexplicable edicts from afar (OK, Grapevine, Texas). It plays favorites.
That’s not a good look.
Game of the Week
Navy 28, Notre Dame 27: The Fighting Irish had six possessions in the game, scored on five of them, and lost. Navy showed in a textbook fashion how to overcome significant talent disadvantage by running its time-eating triple option to perfection. The Midshipmen never punted in the game and chewed up more than 20 minutes of possession time in the second half, including the final 7:28 to run out the clock. It was Navy’s fourth victory over Notre Dame in the last 10 years.
Player of the Week
D’Onta Foreman, Texas: Despite the difficult season the Longhorns are having, the junior running back has absolutely been a bright spot. Foreman has run for over 100 yards in each of his eight games this season, and on Saturday he carried 33 times for 341 rushing yards – just 9 shy of the school record set by Ricky Williams – in Texas’ 45-37 victory over Texas Tech that kept its postseason hopes alive.
— Keenan Singleton (@KJMSingleton) November 6, 2016
After Cincinnati’s desultory 20-3 home loss to BYU to drop to 4-5, coach Tommy Tuberville was heckled by a fan for “stealing from the university.” Unable to contain his frustration, Tuberville shouted back, telling the fan to “go to hell” and “get a job.” Chances are the fan has a job and he paid his hard-earned money to go to Bearcats games. Tuberville, who’s making well over $2 million per year, should’ve kept his mouth shut.
Projected committee rankings
1. Alabama, 2. Clemson, 3. Michigan, 4. Ohio State, 5. Washington, 6. Louisville, 7. Wisconsin, 8. Auburn, 9. Oklahoma, 10. Penn State, 11. Colorado, 12. Texas A&M, 13. Utah, 14. West Virginia, 15. Oklahoma State.
Top Group of 5 teams – Western Michigan, Boise State, San Diego State, Navy.
Projected New Year’s Six bowl matchups
Fiesta Bowl (CFP semifinal): Clemson vs. Michigan
Peach Bowl (CFP semifinal): Alabama vs. Washington
Rose Bowl: Colorado vs. Wisconsin
Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. Oklahoma
Orange Bowl: Louisville vs. Ohio State
Cotton Bowl: Penn State vs. Western Michigan