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Midweek Musing: The College Football Playoff is Actually Bad

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The more things change, the more they inevitably stay the same.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff-Selection Sunday
Rob needs to get his story straight.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

I hate the college football playoff.

Wow, that feels good to get off my chest.

I hated it in 2014 when TCU got screwed, I hated it in 2017 when Alabama got gifted a spot despite not even playing in their conference championship game, and I hate it today after listening the Rob Mullens hem and haw and find a way to try and cover up that the committee is just throwing darts in the name of eye balls and dollar signs and picking the four teams they think will collect the most of both.

I HATE the college football playoff.

A few weeks ago, folks got a good chuckle out of Gary Patterson’s assertion that the new style is just a revamp of the old one, an opportunity to “sell t-shirts” and elevate the programs that draw the most national interest. He was quite blunt in saying “I don’t think anybody trusts them.” He went on to explain “I don’t mean that in a bad way, but the people you have on it, I don’t trust anybody to recruit for me. If I just followed all of the recruiting services, I’d be fired by now.”

What we were told when the playoffs were inserted, was that this was going to be about choosing the best four teams at the end of the season. What we are being told today is that it’s about choosing the best four teams week to week. What we will be told in the future is probably something justifying including an Alabama team that hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent all season to this point and lost their one prove-it game and their starting quarterback.

It’s all a bunch of BS that adjusts on the fly to fit the narrative that this group of people is trying to push in any given year.

Back in the BCS era, where we walked uphill to school in the snow both ways, computers made the decision. They rewarded “style points”, something that got them in trouble as teams complained about being absolutely run by programs that outmatched them in the name of gaining more of the points as the season came to a close. The playoffs were supposed to eliminate that, which is why Patterson’s Horned Frogs famously took a knee in the red zone late in the regular-season finale of a 55-3 game as the #3 team in the country, only to see Ohio State’s shellacking of Wisconsin (59-0) be decided to be more impressive and worthy of swapping them with TCU in the final rankings.

Now, we are being told that the way teams played against a common opponent is being considered into the metrics as a way of justifying a Penn State program being elevated over the same Minnesota team that beat them TWO WEEKS ago in this week’s Top 25.

What?

And lest we forget, Baylor was ranked outside of the top ten in the first two releases, despite being a Power Five team that had wins over Iowa State and Kansas State, two teams that spent multiple weeks inside the Top 25 of various polls. Meanwhile, Clemson, a program that hasn’t looked like the powerhouse of years past, stays in the conversation despite playing in a division that has one halfway decent-looking program in Wake Forest and whose best win is over a Texas A&M team that’s likely going to finish with five losses and whose best win is over... South Carolina?

And before we talk about how royally screwed Oklahoma is getting, let me be clear — the parity in the Big 12 is a significant hinderance to its playoff hopes and I am amongst those who believe the conference is without an elite team in 2019. It’s a bunch of good, a little very good, and a ton of any team can beat any other team on any give week.

But, yeah, let’s talk about Oklahoma.

It could be argued that the Sooners have the best win of any program not in the top four of the current rankings in their victory over the Bears — which occurred on the road, under the lights, and with College GameDay having been in town. Yet, they find themselves behind Oregon (best win at USC, loss to #16 Auburn in week one), Utah (lost to USC, best win is... I have no idea, they haven’t beaten a team that’s over .500 on the season), and Penn State (lost to Minnesota, wins over a supremely overrated Michigan team and Iowa, who beat Minnesota).

I mean, okay?

Also, how much of a fraud is Utah in the top ten? What exactly have they proven in beating Wazzu (5-5), Oregon State (5-5), Arizona State (5-5), Cal (5-5), Washington (6-4), and Arizona (4-6)? If they get to the conference championship game — which might not happen as USC has the tiebreaker, they’ll have one quality win on their resume. Which means, you know what the committee is setting up...

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama currently sits at five in the rankings, a mark befitting of their quality loss to LSU and wins over mighty SEC teams boasting a stunning 22-25 record in 2019. If LSU beats Georgia and Ohio State and Clemson win out, while Utah/USC beat Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship game, you know what’s going to happen (again)...

13th data point be damned.

At the end of the day, when the mantra is: the four best teams according to the 13 people in the room, the edict is “make it up as you go along”. There’s zero consistency to the metrics, there’s zero accountability outside of the room. What justifies a ranking of one team one week might keep a different team out the next. Why is Penn State’s win over Iowa more important than Minnesota’s win over the Nittany Lions? Why is the Big 12’s lack of a 13th date point a hinderance for TCU/Baylor but easy to gloss over for Bama? Why were undefeated teams kept out of the top ten due to strength of schedule or strength of resume or whatever numbers worked for that scenario, while other blue blood programs skate by on their names? Why are Michigan, Iowa, and USC ranked other than to beef up the resumes of Big 10 and Pac 12 programs that would certainly draw plenty of intere$t acro$$ the country if they were to make the playoff$?

Gary Patterson might have an answer. “Here’s what I think style points sometimes means: T-shirts. How much money do we make by who we take? To be honest with you, I think that had something to do with us not getting in there ‘14. They didn’t want it to be the first playoff and TCU be the team that doesn’t sell as many T-shirts.”

I hate feeling like your season is over the minute you lose a ball game unless your name ends in a dollar sign. I hate that the bowl season seems like second place. I hate that every year, at least one Power Five conference champ is going to get left out and that we are never going to see a Cinderella get their chance.

I hate the college football playoff.

What do you think?