For three of the teams in the Final Four of College Football, there is a huge debate over whether or not the Selection Committee got them right. Well, what do you know? Who predicted this would happen? Oh, yes, that would be me. I said back in the old BCS days that a four team playoff would not solve any of the current problems, it would just move them down the line. Instead of teams #3 and #4 screaming because they didn’t get in it would be teams #5 and #6 and probably even #8 and #9. I said look at the NCAA Tournament for proof. 68 teams get into the basketball playoff every year and still we have teams who feel like they got robbed.
So this year we had the Big Ten Champion Penn State Nittany Lions at #5 and the Big 12 Champion Oklahoma Sooners who did not get in. SEC Champion Alabama was the only no-brainer. After that we had a one-loss ACC Champion Clemson Tigers team, the one-loss PAC 12 Champion Washington Huskies and the one-loss Ohio State Buckeyes who didn’t even win their division in the Big Ten.
So here’s how it went down:
Ohio State lost to Penn State. But it was their only loss on the season. The Buckeyes beat three teams who finished in the top ten in the final rankings, the Michigan Wolverines, The Sooners and the Big ten runner-up Wisconsin Badgers. Their strength of schedule and the fact that they went 3-1 against top ten teams got them in.
Penn State however, lost twice. One of their losses was a three-point loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers as well as a loss at Michigan. Washington had a soft out-of-conference schedule and the PAC 12 was good, but not Big Ten good. So the committee went with one-loss Washington over two-loss Penn State. Many have an issue with that.
What message does that send? Washington played three cupcakes in the non-conference. Penn State played the Temple Owls, champions of the American Athletic Conference and the Panthers of the ACC, who by the way also knocked off Clemson. They lost to Pitt by three points on the road.
So there is a worry now that teams will stop scheduling tough non-conference opponents. But here is the deal. The reason teams are scheduling them now is because in the first year of the playoffs, the Big 12 was left out of the playoffs because of the weak scheduling of the Baylor Bears and TCU Horned Frogs.
Here is the truth. Had Penn State beaten Pitt, they get in over UDub. So there is no easy answer to how to make up your non-conference schedule. The real answer is, schedule a good team and win. Next year the Wolverines begin the season with the Florida Gators. Whoever wins that game will have a nice resume builder that they would not have had they scheduled Florida Atlantic or Central Michigan.
What needs to happen now is an eight-team playoff where all five “Power Five” Champions get an automatic bid. Then there would be three spots open for teams like Ohio State, Michigan and possibly the USC Trojans who might be the only team who could give Alabama a game right now, to get in.
But all of this is really academic now, because nobody is going to give Alabama any problems.