College football made it relatively easy for the College Football Playoff Committee this year. Last weekend’s conference championship games pretty much all went as predicted leaving us with four teams for the playoff –four teams that I can’t exactly form an argument against.
We have the ACC champion, undefeated 13-0 Clemson at No. 1. We have the SEC champion, 12-1 Alabama at No. 2. We have the Big 10 champion, 12-1 Michigan State at No. 3. And lastly, the one without a conference championship, Big 12 champion Oklahoma at No. 4.
As much as I enjoyed not being in distress over the committee’s selections this year, part of me had been wishing for chaos. I needed chaos in order to get insight into how this committee decides which teams get to have their dreams come true.
Last year, we saw the committee shaft two Big 12 schools, the Baylor Bears and the TCU Horned Frogs. Prior to conference championship weekend, TCU was ranked No. 3. Even having played a game that weekend and winning, it wasn’t a conference championship, and the Horned Frogs dropped to No. 6.
I was in complete shock, confusion and slight anger over the committee’s decision to rank Ohio State above the two Big 12 universities. For a blog I started during my college career, I wrote a heated column explaining why the committee made a mistake.
The Buckeyes went on to prove that they may have been the right candidate after beating Alabama to become the National Champions, but I can still argue that if TCU or Baylor had been slotted at No. 4 they could have earned the title as well. It’s a huge “what if” at this point.
What I learned from last year’s selection is that the Big 12 may be hurting itself by not having a conference championship. With the 10-team round robin thing it has going on, TCU and Baylor were co-champions in 2014 and I can’t help but wonder if they had played each other for a second time, if the winner would have been a shoe-in for the playoff.
Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 commissioner, didn’t let last year’s snubbing force them into making rash decisions. No new teams were added and there was no change in their model. This year, it didn’t seem to be an issue.
The one team we knew for sure would be granted a ticket to the playoff prior to conference championship weekend was Oklahoma. The Sooners got to sit idle while all other potential candidates battled one more time.
I don’t think two years is enough to say there is a trend one way or the other, but I definitely think the next few years will be strong signs in telling the Big 12 what they need to do.
Right now, I will say this, the Sooners are lucky the teams around them that needed to win in order to keep sanity won. There were really no teams that were able to put up a true fight against them. And, with Michigan State’s jump over the Big 12 candidate, No. 4 to No.3, I can’t help but think that the years ahead will lead to change within the conference.