Should the CFB Playoff Committee revise their selection criteria?

By Amy Daughters -

“Ranking football teams is an art, not a science.”

That quote comes directly from the CFB Playoff’s website, the first words of a document entitled “How to select the four best teams to compete for the College Football National Championship.”

It’s college football’s equivalent of “We the People.” Only in this case, the oppressed are throwing off the shackles of the BCS, not King George.

To access it, you have to go to the “About” tab, select “Selection Committee” and then look for a link at the top of the page called “Selection Committee Protocol.”

The one and a quarter page treatise does a good job of explaining how difficult it is to rank football teams, and, of debunking systems driven by mathematical equations.

What it doesn’t do is explain how it’s possible that a committee that operates under its stated guidelines could have picked Ohio State at No. 2 in its final rankings vs. Penn State at No. 5.

To be clear, this isn’t a discussion of whether Ohio State is a better football team than Penn State. It’s a conversation about whether or not the CFB Playoff Committee applied its own rules to its own decision.

In its “unanimously” adopted words, the CFB Playoff mentions the emphasis on “conference championships won” and “head-to-head competition” four separate times. It’s even bullet pointed in the body of the document.

When circumstances at the margins indicate that teams are comparable, then the following criteria must be considered:

  • Championships won
  • Strength of schedule
  • Head-to-head competition (if it occurred)
  • Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory)

Applying these four pillars to the case of Ohio State vs. Penn State – let’s objectively take a look.

Criteria #1: Championships won: On Dec. 3, (7) Penn State beat (6) Wisconsin 38-31 in the Big Ten Championship. The Nittany Lions earn one point.

Criteria #2: Strength of schedule: Though this point is subjective, many experts give the clear advantage to Ohio State. To be fair, we’ll use Phil Steele’s “2016 Toughest Schedules” rankings (which had the Buckeyes’ slate at No. 20 vs. Penn State’s No. 42). One point to the Buckeyes.

Criteria #3: Head-to-head competition (it did occur): On Oct. 22, unranked Penn State upset (2) Ohio State 24-21. Another point to the Nittany Lions.

Criteria #4: Comparative outcomes of common opponents. Both teams played Michigan, Maryland, Indiana, Rutgers, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Ohio State beat all six of these opponents while Penn State fell to Michigan, albeit on the road as opposed to at home. This gives the slight edge to the Buckeyes.

Theoretically, the committee is faced with a tie. That is, if all the criteria are weighted evenly.

What does the document say about breaking a tie?

Strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and championships won must be specifically applied as tie-breakers between two teams that look similar.

Comparative outcomes aren’t mentioned, giving Penn State a clear edge over Ohio State 2-1. By the CFP Playoff’s own formula, the Nittany Lions should be in the Playoff and the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl.

Again, that’s not to say that the Buckeyes aren’t the better team, or aren’t the team that proved themselves as more worthy over the course of the entire season. Instead, it’s to say that they fall short of the Nittany Lions in meeting the criteria of the selection committee.

If the aim of the CFB Playoff is to the select the four best teams in the nation to fill its coveted bracket slots, rather than tick the boxes of its own bucket list, it needs to revise its protocol to reflect that. If not, programs who have met the qualifications will continue to be disappointed. Dazed and confused, they’ll be forced to look delighted as they are shipped off to play in meaningless bowls.

If you think about it, Ohio State’s ascendancy to this season’s CFB Playoff mirrors many of the complaints spewed during former regimes charged with fielding a national championship game.

It almost seems like the system was, once again, magically tweaked so the powers that be could justify the most desirable pairings.

If you really like irony, take a look at another snippet from the CFB Playoffs “How to” guide for fielding a bracket. This one takes a shot at the BCS it was charged with replacing.

Under the current construct, polls (though well-intended) have not expressed these values; particularly at the margins where teams that won head-to-head competition and championships are sometimes ranked behind non-champions and teams that have lost in head-to-head competition. Nuanced mathematical formulas ignore some teams who ‘deserve’ to be selected.

Drop the mic.

Amy Daughters is a contributor to FBSchedules.com.

  1. Caleb Wilkes
    December 5, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Penn State certainly has some good arguments for inclusion, but I think you are not giving the opposing point of view sufficient credit.

    The guidelines state that “When circumstances at the margins indicate that teams are comparable, then the following criteria must be considered:”

    The committee decided that Penn State and Ohio State were not comparable, but rather that Ohio State was at the core better than Penn State. So they did not even have to resort to the 4 criteria factors.

    • Garrett
      December 5, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      It seems to me like PSU and OSU should be comparable, at least according to these factors.

    • Jeff
      December 5, 2016 at 6:58 pm

      One glaring thing left out of this article was the fact that OSU had 1 loss and PSU had 2. That is kind of a big deal. Would be less of a big deal if PSU had higher quality wins, better road wins, better SOS but they do not. The criteria above makes a lot of sense when you compare two teams with the same amount of losses. If we are going to make this thing simple (only conference champions are in), then we wouldn’t need a committee. That’s why we have it, so that they can break down the teams and not rely on simplistic rules for why one team makes it and one doesn’t.

      For those who want to put only conference champions in, are you putting VTech in if they beat Clemson or Florida in if they beat Alabama?

      For those who rely on head-to-head as the end all be all, then every team would be out, other than Alabama. For Penn St, Pitt and Michigan would be in over them (if you ignore win-loss record). If you don’t ignore win-loss record, Michigan would still be in over Penn St, but Ohio State would be in over Michigan.

      Bottom line is this thing isn’t simple, that is why there is a committee.

    • Brandon
      December 6, 2016 at 10:48 am

      *Caleb Wilkes – The problem with that “opposing point of view” is that it doesn’t hold water. The committee’s decision that Ohio St. is “unequivocally better” doesn’t apply here for the simple fact that they LOST to Penn St. ON THE FIELD. I don’t know what sort of alternate dimension I woke up in this week, but where I from we go by logic. And logic would dictate that you can’t deem 1 team better than another team when the 1st team lost to the second team on the field. That makes absolutely no sense, thus it doesn’t fly here.

    • Jeff
      December 6, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      Brandon – by your definition, Michigan should be ahead of Penn St and Penn St is not unequivocally better than Pitt.

      I would absolutely agree with you in your comparison of Penn St and Ohio St if they both had one loss. In that scenario, despite Ohio State having a better SOS, Penn St should be higher based on head to head and conference championship. But Penn St lost twice. The head-to-head affords them the opportunity to erase one mistake, not two.

  2. lost in Va.
    December 5, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    10 years ago, Urban Meyer said: “only teams that won their conferences should compete for the National Championship”…….yet the Buckeyes did not turn down their Fiesta Bowl/semi-final game invite…..hippocrites.

    • Brandon
      December 6, 2016 at 10:52 am

      I expect nothing less from Urban Meyer. This is the same guy who faked a medical condition just so he could jump ship from having to play Saban and Alabama every other year and ran to a talent loaded team in a weaker conference in Ohio St.

    • Steve
      December 6, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      lol you are stupid. 10 years ago we didn’t have a playoff, and a coach advocating for his team is nothing new.

  3. James
    December 5, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Ohio st. had a better overall record and that why they should of been in the big ten champtionship game

    • Travis B
      December 5, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      Uhh what?

      Lol

    • David
      December 5, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      The old XII method where teams with the same conference record were chosen to represent their division based on the higher BCS ranking, ahead of head-to-head. So, perhaps you’re suggesting that the B1G could choose the entrants to the CCG with the same conference record by overall record.

    • Brandon
      December 6, 2016 at 11:08 am

      *James – Sorry, but that’s not the way teams playing for conference champions are decided. Conference wins are what decides who participates in the conference championship, and Penn St. won their division by beating Ohio St. on the field. Period.

    • Brian
      January 16, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      All Penn St. fans or not. Not only did Ohio St. stink up the field. Let’s not forget Rose Bowl, Penn St. LOST giving up 49 points!! No matter who played Clemson = Loss.

  4. Cole Sturza
    December 5, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    the system is rigged

  5. FanOFootball
    December 5, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Should have been Penn State based on head to head and conference championship. Ohio State may or may not be the better team right now, but they didn’t win their conference. Conference title should be worth something.

    • Steve
      December 6, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      They ARE worth something. It is the only reason Penn State is even in the discussion. But it’s not everything, and certainly not enough to overcome a blowout, non-competitive loss to Michigan and a loss to a mediocre 4 loss team.

  6. HCH
    December 5, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    This entire argument is pointless. To me, Penn St beat OSU in the head-to-head & won the Big Ten. TV ratings dictated having the Buckeyes in the playoffs. This could all be solved easily & to the delight of fans & big media if we expand to an 8-to-10 team playoff. I’m a Clemson fan.

    • Jeff
      December 5, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      I get how as a Clemson fan you would rather face Washington or Penn St.

    • Caleb
      December 7, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Exactly. Just ask college basketball about how easy it is to narrow down the playoff field. They take 68 teams and there’s never anyone upset about being left out. (sarcasm)

      Expanding the field does nothing. If we had eight teams this year, then we’d be having the same conversation only about more teams. Teams 8-13 in the final CFP rankings each have three losses. Instead of having a discussion between two or three teams (even though only four Power Five teams ended with one loss or fewer, and all of them made the playoff), we’re now discussing eight. And everyone would be up in arms about the Big Ten getting four teams in. And do you really think teams with three losses deserve a shot at playing for the championship? You’re all already upset about a one-loss non-conference champion playing in the playoff; you think you’ll be happy with a three-loss non-conference champion?

  7. Keowee
    December 5, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    the Committee should NOT revise their criteria.

    Every year will have different teams and different nuances. This is where the BCS made mistakes. Nebraska 2001 does not win XII but gets into Championship. So let’s add Bonus Points for Conf Champs. New rules all the time.

    As we have learned from Basketball, the Each year there is a different Committee. One group puts greater emphasis on Non-Conf Schedule, the next emphasizes Record Over Last 10 Games, the next targets Top 50 Wins. Football Committee will eventually work that way too.

    With this Committee: Ohio St wins over Okla, Wisc, Neb, Mich, carry greater weight than Penn St wins over Ohio St, Wisc, Iowa, Temple. Penn St losses to Mich & Pitt carry greater weight than Ohio St loss to Penn St.

    People did not want Computers in charge, so now we have a Committee. But each Committee will have different members. There will not be consistency. The one thing that matters most: the more games you win & the fewer you lose, the better your chances.

  8. Evan
    December 5, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    A 4 team playoff is different than an 8 team playoff.
    I can see OSU getting picked over PSU in an 8 team playoff (they would have both made it though); however, this is not an 8 team playoff. Criteria must be different.

  9. Rick Kleban
    December 5, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    The author tried to trick us into believing her argument was sound by assuming her conclusion. She assumed Penn State was comparable, without ever stating that. She is just hoping we are asleep enough that we don’t notice that she made that assumption so she can bait us into believing her argument is valid. But as other readers pointed out, the committee explicitly said they did not view the teams as equal in terms of their body of work. In the future, please know that if we are reading your article, we are not asleep.

    • Rick Kleban
      December 5, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      Oh, and you need to pick up the mic.

    • Kevin Kelley
      December 6, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      The author didn’t try to trick anybody. It’s based on the criteria posted on the CFB playoff’s own website.

    • WW
      December 6, 2016 at 7:37 pm

      I agree with Rick. The author assumed the teams were comparable to trigger the four criteria she discussed. But the committee repeatedly state they did not view them as comparable. End of story (or drop the mic).

      Notably, to prove her point, the author doesn’t even discuss each team’s out of conference schedule and results. This ignores 1/4 of the whole season.’. The author fails to discuss Penn State lost to Pitt and Ohio State beat Big 12 champion Oklahoma the road. The author fails to consider that two-loss teams almost never get in over one-loss teams. The author fails to consider that Penn State did not beat a single team on the road who had a winning record. In stark contrast, Ohio State beat two 10-win teams on the road and one, Wisconsin, had a bye week to prepare for Ohio State.

      This post is not meant to detract from the Penn State’s successful season. To start 2-2 and then finish with nine straight wins is no mean feat. I, for one, hope they stretch it to 10 with a win in the Rose Bowl.

    • Caleb
      December 7, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      Rick and WW taking care of the dirty work for me.

      People are upset that the TWO LOSS Penn State team didn’t get the benefit of their three point head-to-head win over the ONE LOSS Ohio State team. Shouldn’t you be upset that Michigan doesn’t get the benefit of their 39 point head-to-head victory over PSU? Especially considering both teams had two losses. Why is no one upset about that? Michigan also boasts three wins over teams ending the year in the top 10 (PSU, Wisconsin, and Colorado) compared to PSU’s two (Wisconsin and Ohio State).

    • Ronnie
      December 7, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      Ohio State is in the CFP (ranked ahead of Penn State) because of the eye-test. The CFP Selection Committee gave itself this loophole by including in their protocol “flexibility and discretion to select a non-champion or independent under circumstances where that particular non-champion or independent is unequivocally one of the four best teams in the country.”

      But this goes against the committees own “beliefs that the regular season is unique and must be preserved; and that championships won on the field and strength of schedule are important values that must be incorporated into the selection process.” This belief that the regular season is unique is the “Ethos” of college football.

      The eye-test or better talent—perceived—shouldn’t be used as a selection criterion. Ohio State was ranked higher than Penn State in the final CFP rankings through a back-door.

      It is the regular season that matters (“based on beliefs that the regular season is unique and must be preserved”). Even the talking heads at ESPN sell/promote their broadcasts by stating that “every game matters” and “who’s in”.

      This loophole needs to be eliminated as it contradicts the CFP Selection Committee’s Protocol. They repudiate the Polls for doing the same thing they have just done. “Under the current construct, polls (although well-intended) have not expressed these values [College Football’s Ethos]; particularly at the margins where teams that have won head-to-head competition and championships are sometimes ranked behind non-champions and teams that have lost in head-to-head competition. Nuanced mathematical formulas ignore some teams who “deserve” to be selected.” This contradiction is the fundamental part of Amy Daughters article and why it’s titled “Should the CFB Playoff Committee revise their selection criteria?”

      Penn State and Ohio State aren’t “at the margins” or “comparable”. Penn State won the Big Ten. Ohio State did not. Teams “at the margins” and “comparable” are Washington compared to Penn State or Clemson compared to Western Michigan.

      My question, why on earth play a conference schedule, have a Conference Championship game, and end up with a Conference Champion?!? “Based on beliefs that the regular season is unique and must be preserved” this part of the regular season is equivalent to the first round, second round, “Sweet 16” or quarterfinals in a playoff system.

      Every Game Matters.

      The CFP Committee doesn’t release rankings until November, which allows them to incorporate conference games into their equation. The committee values conference play. They even say being Conference Champion matters.

      Someone in a comment asked that if Florida had defeated Alabama would you leave Alabama out. You bet I would! Alabama was the best in the SEC West, Florida the best in the SEC East. How would you decide which is better other than playing the title game (the only way might be record vs. common opponents)? If you’re worried about your Conference Champion not being “deserving” because they’re not the perceived “better team” you shouldn’t have two divisions and be playing a championship game.

      Don’t Lose.

      Should we be determining Champions on the field or though polling?

      Ohio State shouldn’t be in the CFP final four because Penn State eliminated them! I don’t care if you win by luck or a fluke.

      How to whittle down the ten conference champions (or the FBS Independents) is really the question. Who gets into the four team playoff among Temple, Clemson, Penn State, Oklahoma, Western Kentucky, Western Michigan, San Diego State, Washington, Alabama, and Arkansas State OR Appalachian State? Every other FBS team lost their regular season “playoff game” and was eliminated.

      The only way is head-to-head and, unfortunately, Strength of Schedule (a system driven by a mathematical equation, which the CFP protocol rails against). SOS assumes Team A would achieve a better record than Team B playing Team B’s schedule.

      But after you eliminate everyone but Conference Champions is a touch easier.

  10. David
    December 5, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    To paraphrase Captain Picard…
    ” THERE ARE TWO LOSSES!”
    .
    You don’t lose to Pitt, and lose badly to Michigan, and expect to pass a team whose only loss is a fluke loss to you. Plus, Penn State didn’t face Nebraska, nor Wisconsin (until now). Penn State isn’t even close.

  11. Steve
    December 5, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Penn St. deserved to go. The committee chose who they wanted. They did not consider that OSU barely beat a bad MSU team by one point the week before the Michigan game. Michigan pretty much gave the game away to OSU. Fumbles, interceptions etc. Everyone said Michigan was the better team. So how did the committee have OSU as a solid top 3 team? Answer: bias. They have not forgotten the PSU scandal. PSU can take heart when Clemson embarrasses OSU on New Years Eve.

    • Jeff
      December 5, 2016 at 11:15 pm

      You do realize that your entire argument can be turned against Penn St? First, penn st barely beat Minnesota and Indiana (final score was misleading). Second, that Michigan team OSU barely beat, beat PSU by 39. Third, you argue OSU got lucky bc Michigan gave the game away. Isn’t that exactly what OSU did at Penn St with 2 special teams gifts? If you want to be compared to OSU, schedule tougher and beat pitt. And one more thing; what is your argument going to be next year for the final 4 when your only loss is at OSU and OSU wins the conference championship? You going to only want conference champions then?

  12. JackStriker
    December 5, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    “For those who want to put only conference champions in, are you putting VTech in if they beat Clemson or Florida in if they beat Alabama?”

    JEFF is absolutely correct on this. I think it does suck that it CAN come down to a human decision as opposed to on the field results…….If Penn State beats Pitt, end of discussion.

    That being said, Washington has no chance against ‘Bama. I would have rather seen Michigan vs. ‘Bama and OSU vs. Clemson in playoff.

    • Leon
      January 1, 2017 at 10:59 am

      If you only have conference champions in the playoffs the conferences will change the way their champion is determined. So you may not end up with Florida/Alabama in the SEC, Va Tech/Clemson in the ACC or Pens State/Wisconsin in the Big 10. Sports championships should be decided by players on the field not by committees.

  13. Dave Bates
    December 6, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Good article Amy! While the playoffs are an improvement to develop and deliver a clear champion I think the real solution may include an expansion to 8 teams. One additional game would certainly help clean up some of the mess. Please don’t tell me about finals and pressures of college because finals are over this week and there is still 4-5 weeks in between for this to occur and let’s face it while there are some tremendous student athletes the majority of these players subscribed to the Cardale Jones philosophy “we are here to play football”!

  14. montrosebuff
    December 6, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    If the article’s stated criteria for selection were in force this year with all elements being weighted equally, Colorado would have passed USC for the Rose Bowl. Too many politics still at play.

    • WW
      December 6, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Huh? I don’t follow. The article makes a big point about the head-to-head result being an ultimate tiebreaker. Last time I checked USC beat Colorado.

    • Ronnie
      December 7, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      As a hard-core fan of USC Football I’m happy they are in Rose Bowl. Though, quite frankly, without winning the Pac-12 it really doesn’t matter.

      But, I think Colorado should be in the Rose Bowl. Colorado went 8-2 (including their loss to Washington) in the Pac-12 and finished in front of USC, who went 7-2. There is no need for a tie-breaker WW.

      It comes down to wins and losses. Colorado had more of the important one.

    • Day
      December 7, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      Ronnie,

      No, its a popular contest & USC wins by a mile. Congrats to Colorado & their season but USC beat them on the field & people will rather watch USC vs Penn St in the ROSE BOWL. USC is USC, bottom line! Florida lost to Bama but Auburn is going to the Sugar bowl, that’s how it works. Enjoy your Rose Bowl & if the Trojans wins big then all this nonsense of how Penn St should be in the CFP will be set a side.

    • Ronnie
      December 7, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      I know SC is in the Rose Bowl because it’s a popularity contest. It isn’t just head-to-head. USC defeated Colorado in October. Long before everyone said SC was hot, that they had an outside chance at the CFP, and everyone (but Alabama) would fear them in an eight team playoff. USC didn’t make the CFP rankings until the second week of the rankings one month after they defeated Colorado. Colorado made the initial ranking (at #15) and were #12 when USC debuted.

      Bottom line, the CFP thought up to the final ranking Colorado was better even knowing USC had defeated them.

      I also think Colorado should have been ranked higher than Washington heading into the Pac-12 final. Remember, the rankings are supposed to be a snapshot of how the season had gone up that point.

      Auburn (3-1 vs common opponents) is in the Sugar Bowl because they are better then Florida (2-2 vs. common opponents, prior to SEC title game). That is why Auburn was ranked higher than Florida prior to the SEC Championship game and the shellacking Florida received confirmed that even more. The only way Florida would get to the Sugar Bowl was to defeat Alabama.

  15. Pat Logab
    December 6, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    We could go on and on… A person could argue Penn State is as hot as any team right now; along with their other positive factors. But beating OSU came about because Urban choked at the end; sent the kicking team out when they clearly didn’t have enough time to set up for the kick. Disaster followed. I doubt that will ever happen again.

  16. Michael
    December 6, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    By your argument, couldn’t you put PSU up against Michigan and have Michigan slightly ahead of PSU based on SOS and head to head? Maybe Michigan should be in and PSU still left out.

    • Michael
      December 6, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      And btw, PSU could be more “deserving”, clearly not due to resume, but due to head to head & championship, but the committee wants who they think are the best 4 teams on a neutral field. And obviously they think OSU beats PSU on a neutral field and has the better shot at beating Clemson or Alabama.

    • Ronnie
      December 7, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      You can’t put Michigan ahead of Penn State.

      Big Ten East standings: Penn State 8-1 (9-1 including B1G final), Ohio State 8-1, Michigan 7-2.

      In the CFP Ranking it should be Penn State in front of Ohio State who should be in front of Michigan.

      Why can’t people get this? Why do we keep a tally of wins and losses; thus have standings?

    • Jeff
      December 7, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      Ronnie – So your basically saying non-conference scheduling is completely meaningless. It sounds like in your eyes, Penn St could have lost to Kent, got blown out by Pitt and gotten beaten by Temple, but as long as they run the table in the B10, they are basically in.

      In my opinion, (full disclosure, I am an Ohio State fan, if that wasn’t obvious from previous posts), it would be very damaging to the game if you had this conference championship or bust mentality in the current 4-team playoff structure. First of all, you very rarely get the top 2 teams in each conference playing in the conference championship. Case in point, VT wasn’t 2nd best in ACC, Wisc wasn’t 2nd best in B10, Florida wasn’t 2nd best in SEC. If you say conference championships are the only criteria that matters, why is VT allowed to lose 2-3 games in conference but Louisville can’t afford to lose even 1? Another example being Wisconsin (2 losses in conf), who lost to B10 teams with 1 conf. loss and 2 conf. losses played in the B10 championship ahead of both teams. Yet somehow they are more deserving than both teams they lost to?
      Second, think about a playoff where we were seeing Penn St, Virginia Tech, Florida and Oklahoma. Would anyone watch outside the fanbases of those teams? The answer is probably not, likely because people would know that the teams representing the best 4 teams were not in-fact the best 4 teams. And remember, the goal of this thing is to get the 4 best teams.
      And the last point I will make (I could keep going), is that Ohio State and Penn St had the same conference record (both lost a game). Penn St rightfully won the conference tie-breaker for head to head but that has nothing to do with the national ranking. Also, it is important to realize that Penn St only won the conference tie-breaker because Michigan lost to Iowa by a point. If Michigan wins, there is a three-way tie where Ohio State wins the tiebreaker based on national ranking. If you go by the conference championship or bust mentality, you are basically saying Penn St is better than Ohio State because Michigan lost to Iowa. To me, that doesn’t make sense.

      All in all, if you want to go conference championship or bust, you will destroy the sport (lose your audience). The reason there is a committee in place is to figure out the complex comparisons like we had this year. In my opinion, they have gotten it right each year. They took Ohio St in 2014, who won the national championship. Despite OSU and MSU having the same record in 2015, they correctly took MSU by virtue of head-to-head and conference championship of two comparable teams. And now in 2016, they took OSU and Washington over PSU. Conference championships have mattered; 11 of the 12 playoff teams have been one. But situations will come up where a non-conference champion is better and more deserving than a conference champion and that is exactly what the committee is in place to figure out.

    • Day
      December 7, 2016 at 7:17 pm

      “Second, think about a playoff where we were seeing Penn St, Virginia Tech, Florida and Oklahoma. Would anyone watch outside the fanbases of those teams?”
      Not only would I not watch but I would go ahead & just hand the NC to Oklahoma.
      Just kidding but the Sooners would properly win.

    • Ronnie
      December 7, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      When you’re ranking teams from within a Conference, yes the conference schedule is the most important thing. You have a 8 or 9 game sampling to compare teams with, Instead the all hallowed head-to-head, or SOS. You also 4-7 (9 in the case of the Big12) common opponents to compare team with. Penn State (6-1) and Ohio State (6-1) had seven common opponents (including the Big Ten final). Penn State (7-1) and Michigan (6-2) had eight. Ohio State (6-1) and Michigan had seven (6-1).

      How do you know that Ohio State wouldn’t get the same results against Penn State’s non-conference schedule and vice-versa? You don’t, other than your opinion. SOS is fine when comparing teams for different conferences (say Ohio State and Washington), but for in-conference rankings, and using ACTUAL results, looking at a teams overall conference record, common opponent record, and head-to-head is best. These are more certain tie-breakers than SOS. Geez, all the conferences utilize W-L records in their standings, including for breaking ties.

      I didn’t say the conference championship games were the important component. In fact I think they are stupid, along with divisions because you get the situations you’re describing. But all the teams involved know the rules. But, Clemson knew that if they lost in the ACC final they probably wouldn’t have made the playoff. Should we not have conference championship games in the first place?

      I would say 96% of the college football world wants an expanded playoff (8 teams, 16. Maybe 24?) which would include non-conference champions. What would America say if Wisconsin, Oklahoma, USC, and Temple made the final four?

      Sorry the goal of the CFP is to find the National Champion. If you can’t you’re the best in your Conference how are the best in the nation? Again, why have conference champions then? There should just be 12 non-conference games and lets have the committee select the best four.

      Michigan wasn’t in the mix because they lost to Iowa you are correct. Why even use that as an example? Should that game not have been played? Should we just say Michigan is better than Penn State despite it? Are you crazy? I guess Michigan should have won that game. Remember Penn State defeated Iowa by 27. it’s called playing out the conference schedule. I could go on and on.

      The conference championships, though I dislike them, are the equivalent to Sweet-16 or Quarterfinal game.

      You won’t destroy the sport. It hasn’t destroyed NCAA basketball. Not only do you teams making the Elite 8, the Final Four, and winning the National Title that didn’t win their conference title, some haven’t even won their regular season conference title. I think basketball is doing just fine.

    • Jeff
      December 7, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      Ronnie,

      If the current structure was an 8-team playoff then I agree, put the power 5 conference winners, the top non power 5 team and 2 at large in the playoff. In that structure, you at least guarantee the top 4 teams are actually in the playoff. If your sole criteria is conference championship in the current structure, then you can’t guarantee you are getting the top 4 teams. You made the argument that under the conference championship model, every game matters. While that would be true For Ohio state, it essentially gives penn st a free pass in 2 games. Think about if Alabama slipped up vs Florida. You are really going to tell a team that thoroughly dominated their competition for 12 games that because of one slip up, they r not worthy despite every other team having at least 1 slip up as well? Heck, if Alabama lost to Florida i would still keep them at #1 and I’m from B10 country.

      Your concept that the conference championship games are like a play-in game would make some sense if u guarantee the top 2 teams from the conference actually played in these games. But they oftentimes don’t. At the end of the day, I just don’t understand people’s obsession with being simple (conference championship or bust) vs actually getting your hands dirty and analyzing who are truly the top 4 teams.

    • Ronnie
      December 8, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      Jeff,

      How many times in the past has a conference title game winner not been deserving? Meaning there was such a disparity in overall conference record and national ranking that the result was truly an upset. How many of those “undeserving” Champions would’ve made a CFP final four?

      The only thing that happens because of this is a team being eliminated from a national playoff because they couldn’t win an important game (all games in the regular season are important according to college football’s society).

      In conferences that don’t have title games it’s much more rare (you could include divisions for that matter) that an “inferior” team wins the title.

      Based on what happened in the BCS era, your “doomsday” scenario of an illegitimate CFP final four truly doesn’t hold water. Only in 2001 and 2011 do we get any semblance of what you fear.

      14 out the 16 BCS final rankings would’ve given us a final four where the participants finished 6th or higher in the final rankings and I don’t even feel 2001 or 2011 would be less than worthy.

      Are you going to tell me teams ranked 5th or 6th are that inferior to anyone in the top four of a ranking?

      #5 Baylor or #6 TCU had a legit claim in 2014. #6 Stanford had a legit case in 2015. And, #5 Penn State certainly has a beef with the CFP this season.

      The only true fiasco would also have occurred in 2011. Alabama (who would not have made the final four) won the National Title without winning the their division or conference.

      Here would be each season’s final four (1998-2013) based on the final BCS Rankings and using only conference champions. I’ve included why someone that finished in the top four wouldn’t make the cut (*Indicates National Champion/Claimed National Champion):

      2013: 1-Florida State*, 2-Auburn, 4-Michigan State, 5-Stanford.
      3-Alabama tied Auburn in the SEC West, but Auburn won the division on a tie-breaker. Would the college football nation have been in an uproar because Stanford got in?

      2012: 1-Notre Dame, 2-Alabama*, 5-Kansas State, 6-Stanford.
      3-Florida tied 7-Georgia in the SEC East. Georgia lost to Alabama in the SEC title game.
      4-Oregon finished behind Stanford in the Pac-12 North. My belief is that 70% of your schedule, which is the conference season, should mean something. Oregon should have defeated Stanford.
      Notre Dame currently has a contract with the Power-5 to make the CFP (and had “way back” in the day to make the BCS title game).

      2011: 1-LSU, 3-Oklahoma State, 5-Oregon, 10-Wisconsin.
      2-Alabama, who won the BCS title, should never have been in it. They lost the SEC West to LSU. Why should LSU have to play them again? The CFP protocol says the regular season should be protected. ESPN hypes their broadcasts using this thinking!
      4-Stanford finished behind Oregon in the Pac-12 North.
      NOTE, 18-TCU won the MWC, with 7-Boise State finishing ranked higher than Wisconsin. The CFP repudiates this type of thinking found in past polls: “Under the current construct, polls (although well-intended) have not expressed these values; particularly at the margins where teams that have won head-to-head competition and championships are sometimes ranked behind non-champions and teams that have lost in head-to-head competition. Nuanced mathematical formulas ignore some teams who “deserve” to be selected.” Strength of Schedule is a “nuanced” mathematical formula. Maybe TCU should have been ranked 7th instead of Boise State.

      2010: 1-Auburn*, 2-Oregon, 3-TCU, 5-Wiscosin.
      4-Stanford lost to Oregon in the Pac-10 regular season. Every Game Matters!

      2009: 1-Alabama*, 2-Texas, 3-Cincinnati, 4-TCU.

      2008: 1-Oklahoma, 2-Florida*, 5-USC, 6-Utah.
      3-Texas finished behind Oklahoma in the Big-12 South
      4-Alabama lost to Florida in the SEC title game.

      2007: 1-Ohio State, 2-LSU*, 3-Virginia Tech, 4-Oklahoma.

      2006: 1-Ohio State, 2-Florida*, 5-USC, 6-Louisville
      3-Michigan finished behind Ohio State in the Big Ten.
      4-LSU finished behind Arkansas (who lost to Florida) the SEC West.

      2005: 1-USC, 2-Texas*, 3-Penn State, 6-Notre Dame
      4-Ohio State tied Penn State for the Big Ten, but lost whatever tie-breaker that was in place.

      2004: 1-USC*, 2-Oklahoma, 3-Auburn, 6-Utah.
      4-Texas finished behind Oklahoma in the Big 12 South.

      2003: 1-Oklahoma, 2-LSU*, 3-USC*, 4-Michigan

      2002: 1-Miami (FL), 2-Ohio State*, 3- Georgia, 6-Washington State.
      4-USC finished behind Washington State, but for some reason (it was SOS) they were ranked ahead of the Cougars (who played in the Rose Bowl as Champions of the Pac-10).

      2001: 1-Miami (FL)*, 3-Colorado, 4-Oregon, 8-Illinois
      2-Nebraska finished behind Colorado in the Big-12 North.

      2000: 1-Oklahoma*, 2-Florida State, 3-Miami (FL), 4-Washington

      1999: 1-Florida State*, 2-Virginia Tech, 3-Nebraska, 4-Alabama

      1998: 1-Tennessee*, 2-Florida State, 5-UCLA, 6-Texas A&M.
      3-Kansas State lost to Texas A&M in the Big-12 title game.
      4-Ohio State tied with 9-Wisconsin and Michigan (not ranked) for the Big Ten title. Wisconsin was declared Big Ten champion and played in the Rose Bowl.

    • Jeff
      December 8, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      I guess we will agree to disagree. You clearly want the best 4 conference champions and I want the best 4 teams. As you pointed out, most years we end up getting to the same place but this year was an anomaly where the best 4 teams were not all conference champions.

    • Day
      December 8, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      The four best teams got in, bottom line! If there is so much commotion about this CFP & the BCS, do we not forget what was going on before the BCS, bowls had contracts with conferences so even if you were undefeated you still had to go to that bowl. SEC had to go to the Sugar Bowl, Pac-12 & BIG had to go to the Rose Bowl, like the 1997 season when Michigan & Nebraska had to split a NC due to contracts in bowls. It also happened many other times in the past as well, the system is a lot better then what it once was & I really never had a problem with the BCS. Matter of fact if the BCS was still around the same exact same teams would be in.
      As for Bama & the 2011 season, I do agree with that Bama may should not have been there & I felt bad that LSU had to replay them but who else should’ve gotten in? Remember that Bama lost early in the season & it was not Bama’s fault that Oregon, Oklahoma & Oklahoma St lost at the end of the season in which Bama sneaked back in to the race & as they were smashing teams left & right, they proved they should’ve been there. This would’ve, could’ve, should’ve mentality of what should’ve happened & how it played out is meaningless. One thing I do like about the committee is there is an emotion that goes behind the selecting of teams, I would rather have Buckeyes in then Penn St, I would rather have Washington in then Penn St. The Nittany lions can prove how worthy they are next year, for now they should just enjoy the Rose Bowl, nothing wrong with that.

  17. Rod
    December 7, 2016 at 12:10 am

    They weren’t comparable to trigger the 4 criteria. Period. Every single team in the playoff has 1 loss or less. Penn St. lost to a 4 loss Pittsburgh team and lost by 39 to Michigan. Ohio State lost to Penn St., on the road. Penn St. is a very good team right now, but they shit the bed in 2 games. The out of conference games still matter.

  18. Corbishley Douglas
    December 31, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    It’s all a joke. Money talks. PSU should be in on criteria, period. Washington and OSU over PSU, no way. But “show me the money” is the mantra now, so get used to it. Next year for sure the selection committee will come under fire, as they will have to explain their choices against this year, and can’t use the strength of schedule argument (see Washington) nor conference championship (see Ohio State) to justify. But they are not the only losers, we all are. College football that for so long has been the best sport out there, now is hardly eorth watching. It’s all fixed such test in a pinch ….. show me the money.

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