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Beyond the Fort: College Football Playoff Rankings

The college football playoff has been set, and the committee has spoken. The “eye test” is the only thing that matters, but only when we want it to.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

***Full disclosure - I have spent my time here at FOW attempting to be as impartial as possible. I’ve tried to keep my fandom to myself, and just comment with my observations on the game. I wanted to preface this article by letting you know I went to the University of Alabama. I think that context is important.

At 11:30 this morning the college football playoff selection committee unveiled their rankings. Media pundits spent most of last night and this morning banging the drum about why the Florida State Seminoles did not deserve a chance to play for the national title despite finishing 13-0. In my opinion, the committee, and many media pundits, lost all credibility today. The game is no longer about the results on the field, and the “best” teams are the only ones allowed to make the playoffs.

Many of the media pundits who spent the morning clamoring for FSU to be left out point to last year’s national championship game as the proof. “TCU lost 65-7! See what happens when we let in a team that doesn’t deserve to be there!” they said. The amusing part about this logic (lack thereof, really) is that they are making the conscious decision to ignore the fact that TCU WON a playoff game. They earned the right to play for the national championship. And you know what? Sometimes blowouts happen in the championship game. I didn’t see anyone saying Alabama didn’t deserve to be there when Clemson clapped them 44-16 in 2019. Or how about when Alabama beat Ohio State 52-24 in 2021? No, no, no. The story in those games was how well-prepared the team that won was. Look at how much talent they have! Look at how well they executed! Funny how that works, isn’t it?

What the committee did today is an absolute abomination to the very fabric of team sports. Almost every argument I saw against Florida State today was based upon hypotheticals. “They wouldn’t be competitive in a semifinal,” they say, completely ignoring the fact that 12/18 semifinal games have been decided by 2+ scores. It’s not a legitimate argument, and it’s completely subjective. Also, who decided that the 2 matchups we get are going to be close games?

With all that said, I do believe that every team that was chosen for the playoff has a legitimate argument to be there. My biggest issue comes in the way the rankings do not back up the arguments that were made to keep out a 13-0 football team.

I have issues all over the rankings, but for now I’m just going to talk about the top 7. The top 2 are fine with me. I think you could argue Washington being #1 over Michigan, but it’s fine with me either way. The committee’s rankings and decision making between 3 and 7 are irrational. They defy logic, and they contradict themselves all over.

#3 Texas Longhorns (12-1) - This week’s result: 49-21 win over #20 (9-3) Oklahoma State. Best win: at #4 Alabama 34-24. Loss: #12 Oklahoma 34-30.

#4 Alabama (12-1) - This week’s result: 27-24 win over #6 Georgia (12-1). Also their best win. Loss: vs #3 Texas 34-24.

#5 Florida State (13-0) - This week’s result: 16-6 win over #15 Louisville (10-3). Best win: neutral site over #13 LSU 45-24. Loss: None.

#6 Georgia (12-1) - This week’s result: 27-24 loss to #4 Alabama (12-1). Best win: vs #9 (10-2) Missouri 30-21.

#7 Ohio State (11-1) - This week’s result: none because the Big 10 decided to keep divisions. Best win: vs #10 (10-2) Penn State 20-12. Loss: at #1 Michigan 30-24.

So my first question is about Texas. Why does a win over an Oklahoma State team that lost 45-3 to UCF a couple weeks ago get to carry so much weight? Is it simply because Texas scored 49 points? Against a bad Oklahoma State defense? Okay.

About Alabama. Yes, the Georgia win was great. Impressive. Ending the 29 game winning streak of the back-to-back national champs means something. But are we just going to sit around and act like Alabama didn’t need a literal act of god to beat Auburn 2 weeks ago? The same Auburn team that got beat by 21 at home by New Mexico State. Oh, you mean they get to call that a gritty win? Florida State went to the Swamp and beat their rival 9 without their starting quarterback, does that not get to count as a gritty win? Does the fact that they only beat Arkansas (4-8) at home by 3 not matter? How about their trip to USF that ended in a 17-3 win? Or best of all, how about how Alabama let Texas come into their house and get dominated? Alabama held a 16-13 lead in that game for literally 69 seconds. That is it. Texas led the rest of the way. But “quality losses” am I right?

Now, let’s talk about #5 and #6. Many people argued that Florida State would not be competitive. The committee even said that without their quarterback they felt that they were not one of the four best teams in the country. However, I didn’t hear anyone saying that Georgia wouldn’t be competitive. If the argument is that Georgia would be competitive and Florida State would not, why is FSU ranked higher than Georgia? Because that tells me that the committee thinks Florida State is better than Georgia? Right? Is your head starting to hurt yet?

But the injury, Miles! It matters! Well, Michigan is going to be missing an All-American offensive lineman when they play Alabama. Do people think that doesn’t matter? What about Texas? Their star running back is out for the season, and Xavier Worthy got hurt during the Big 12 championship game. Only quarterback injuries matter? Wins without your starting QB don’t count? I guess.

I’m incredibly disappointed with the committee’s decision today, but I’m even more disappointed with the number of people who are okay with it for the sake of entertainment. A group of young men battled through a season, won 12 power five games, fought through 2 wins (that they won by two scores) without their starting quarterback, and they don’t get the chance to earn a National Championship because they “don’t pass the eye test.” What’s lost on this, is that the media, and committee, will just say “we don’t have to worry about this next year, guys!” The 12-team playoff will save the integrity of the sport, trust us!

The message from the committee is simple: your season doesn’t really matter. The games don’t matter. The only thing that matters is our opinion. I can’t imagine being a Florida State fan right now. I’m an Alabama fan who hasn’t managed to feel excited about the fact that the team I root for is in the playoffs. Florida State Athletic Director Michael Alford did a great job of summing up how I feel in his statements: