Tonight, I did something I've never done before. I watched the college football rankings show, in its entirety. I was expecting to be quite unhappy with the spectacle, but on the whole, it was just fine. What I take most exception with from the CFP Rankings Show is the fact that they said Art Briles' name, like he's some kind of grand elder statesman, our old Uncle Art. Other than that, it was on par with College Gameday, minus an old man in costume. Plus, I love me some Booger.
I set out to write a piece nit-picking at the glaring inefficiencies of the College Football Playoff Rankings, and I sat through the entire reveal, convinced I would have nothing to agree with. I sat on pins and needles, waiting for something egregious, and, well... almost nothing came. I don’t have many qualms. These rankings make sense, they're defensible. I was so prepared for an Ohio State coup, I was pleasantly surprised to see them ranked responsibly behind OU. Looking top to bottom, I don't see anything extremely off-base about any particular team.
What I did see was that lingering cloud of “Mountain West Mentality” about the Frogs. TCU behind Penn State is about as egregious as it gets for this ranking. Penn State has a win over slew of nobodies, yet their mere contact with college football royalty somehow outweighs TCU’s road win against a top 15 team? Hocutt said that the deliberation between teams 3-7 was as heated as any stretch, drawing a clear line between the blue bloods and the rest. Teams like TCU, Washington, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma State are just in the way of your Oklahomas, Clemsons, Ohio States, Penn States, etc. This is a small complaint, as TCU's ranking is much higher than many anticipated, but it is a point to remember. ESPN sowed dissent among the nation on the shoulders of teams like TCU and Boise, and used that to take their "deliberation" behind closed doors and tinker as they see fit, according to potential ratings.
I think USC and LSU are perpetually overrated, and Memphis underrated, but I can't justify a move at this point in the season. UCF, Wisconsin, and Miami fans are all understandably aggrieved, but they have their path cut out for them, and no one in front of UCF right now doesn't deserve to be there, based on these rankings. They're the clear G5 favorite, and might have a rematch with Memphis which should settle things.
Michigan State got into these rankings by virtue of beating a bad Michigan team and and playing a bunch of other bad teams, but they will wash away as the season goes on.
Just perusing the top ten, the committee has created clear paths. You have the winner of UGA - Bama, Notre Dame, the survivor of Clemson/Va Tech/ Miami, the Last Man Standing of OU/TCU/OSU, and then your Big 10 Champion. These first rankings don’t mean much other than communicating the revealed preference associations of the committee over the diverse college football landscape. As the polls change, we’ll keep an eye on how these batched preference relations violate rationality, like, for example, flipping a team from three to six after a win.
If you really wanted to find something to grind your gears, you could start with ESPN running the "Brian Kelly Goodwill Tour" on a daily basis, including a prominent feature during the Tuesday night special. Forget Kirby Smart, with a number one team, a young coach proving his place in the SEC, or defending champions Clemson, who've faced some adversity but still control their playoff destiny. No, instead, we need more Brian Kelly.
The lens through which you should look at the rankings is still the "Mountain West mentality" the committee has. All in all, this is a fine start to the College Football Playoff Rankings, and the Frogs still have a shot. That being said, we know that the Rankings don't mean anything until they do, and no one should feel safe (unless your living alumni base is over 200,000).