Many saw the new College Football Playoff as an end to the controversy constantly brought about by its predecessor, the BCS. The rest of us knew better. Now that the first cycle of selecting the teams has run its course, we were proven right.
The committee (from both inside and outside football, inside and outside college sports in general, originally consisting of 13 but later paired to 12 out of necessity, and releasing status reports of rankings each week since late October) came up with their Final Four. There is still plenty of arguing, not only on who the four teams are but how they arrived at them.
This was a committee pledging from day one to take the entire season as a whole: not to place any added importance to one game; not to allow anything that occurred in previous years to influence anything; to be transparent; and to choose the four best teams at the end, regardless of any external factors such as pressure from fans, media, or other administration—or whether or not they were conference champions. Schools and conferences jockeyed, campaigned, hired public relations firms, but nothing really changed, did it?
Once Championship Saturday had come and gone and the dust settled, what the committee came up with was in many ways sketchy. The route traveled was even sketchier. Entering the final weekend, the top four consisted of Alabama, Oregon, TCU and Florida State. Just on the outside were Ohio State and Baylor. FSU were defending national champions said not to matter. Every week was taken on its own. They were #1 at the start of the season in the traditional polls, #2 in the initial committee rankings in October, then #3 in November—but #4 once December started due to the shaky manner in which they were winning and the growing reprobate status of the program itself.
Alabama rolled past Missouri 42-13 to win the SEC; Oregon romped past Arizona 51-13 to win the Pac-12; TCU blew out Iowa State 55-3; Florida State again just got by beating Georgia Tech 37-35 to win the ACC; Ohio State with a 3rd-string quarterback due to injury still whipped Wisconsin 59-0 to win the Big Ten; and Baylor did enough to beat Kansas State 38-27 to win the Big XII. They all won—no easy answers only lots of questions.
So what did this magnanimous committee come up with? At #1 is Alabama, rightfully; at #2 is Oregon; #3 is Florida State; and at #4? Ohio State! TCU went from #3 to #6 despite winning by 52; FSU moved up despite continuing their pattern of squeaking by; and Ohio State moves in. The committee never weighed into the whole TCU/Baylor Big XII controversy. They picked neither of them.
The lack of a conference championship game and the lack of leadership from the commissioner chair doomed the Big XII entirely. TCU had been ahead of Baylor despite having lost to them. They each finished 11-1 and 8-1 in conference. With no championship game, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby declared co-champions, not throwing his weight behind the conference’s season-long slogan of ‘One True Champion.’ This champion was rightfully Baylor, having beaten TCU. Look for the conference to add two teams forthwith to get that championship game for next season.
So on New Year’s Day, in the semifinals, you will have Alabama against Ohio State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl preceded by Oregon and Florida State in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual.