football-fbs flag | December 7, 2014

Head to Head: CFP committee right on Big 12?

  Baylor shared a co-champion title with TCU, but both teams were left out of the final four-team playoff bracket.

Head to Head debates the biggest topics in college football. On Sunday, the final rankings for the inaugural College Football Playoff were released and the co-champions of the Big 12 conference -- Baylor and TCU, -- were out in favor of SEC champion Alabama, Pac-12 champion Oregon, undefeated ACC champion Florida State and Big Ten champ Ohio State. Did the CFP committee make the right decision in omitting Baylor or TCU?

Texas, for-never.

The College Football Playoff selection committee was wrong on Dec. 2, when it decided the four teams worthy of playoff contention were Alabama, Oregon, TCU and Florida State.

The College Football Playoff selection committee was right on Dec. 7, when it decided the four teams worthy of playoff contention were Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State.

This is a tough defense of the committee’s decisions but it is one of the few rational ones. TCU dismantled Iowa State and dropped three spots in the committee’s ranking. There is no reasonable explanation for this, other than TCU did not belong in the third slot of the penultimate rankings in the first place.

Fine, the committee shot itself in the foot last week, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t limp toward a proper, final result.

Choosing Ohio State will be looked at as the safest answer to the biggest question in college football because the Buckeyes were definitive conference champions. But if there is one conference that plays it safe more than anybody, it’s the Big 12.

The Big 12 prides itself on an everybody-plays-everybody conference schedule with no winner-take-all championship game. There are 10 teams in the Big 12, and with the exception of Baylor and TCU, there is only one team that if beaten, can be looked upon as a quality win -- Bill Snyder’s Kansas State Wildcats.

Kansas State made the mistake of actually trying to test its mettle with an early non-conference game against Auburn.

That week, Baylor was on a bye coming off a grueling 63-21 win against Buffalo; TCU, also on a bye, was preparing for a heavyweight title bout with SMU. Yeah that SMU.

I get that these games are scheduled years in advance, that every team plays an early season game against a team it knows it could stomp -- but that puts a lot of weight on the conference schedule. Frankly, the Big 12 conference is just plain mediocre.

Much like Florida State -- or any team from the ACC -- the only way a Big 12 team was getting into the playoff was if it went undefeated.

The Big 12 by itself does not carry enough weight -- and neither Baylor nor TCU gave themselves the chance to flex the muscle that shows it can be competitive outside of the Big 12 bubble.

TCU played one non-conference opponent -- Minnesota, a team that not only is in Ohio State’s conference but also lost at home to the Buckeyes.

Baylor and TCU are victims of its own conference rivals' struggles, and the system of putting the conference schedule above everything else backfired when seven of the 10 teams in the conference showed they weren’t on the elite level that they were expected to be.

Both Baylor and TCU beat up on the mediocre teams in their conference and with this, the Big 12's mediocrity helped Baylor and TCU earn their way to the top six -- but cost them the chance at the top four.

-- Gerard Gilberto,

My dad once told me never to throw a rock and hide my hand. On the surface, he was teaching me to stand up for myself. As time went on, I understood that he also meant don’t be afraid to throw proverbial rocks, especially if you have something to say. With the inaugural College Football Playoff seeds announced, it seems the deciding committee chose to say nothing.

Following the regular season’s completion, it’s inarguable to most rational beings (which I realize aren’t exactly the demographic of college football fans) that Alabama, Oregon and Florida State should have qualified for these playoffs. Each of them pass the requisite résumé and eye-test requirements. No one is disputing this.

What we’ve all been debating for the past week: Should TCU, Baylor or Ohio State be this year’s No. 4 seed? The committee chose the Buckeyes, which can only be classified as the ‘safe pick.’ And I would argue the ‘wrong one.’

Ohio State represents the champion of the worst conference of the Power Five (Big Ten) and suffered an inconceivable loss at home to Virginia Tech. One of the committee’s main arguments was the Buckeyes overcoming quarterback injury setbacks was very impressive to them. They ‘bounced back.’ Now, if we’re going to base a team’s legitimacy on overcoming obstacles throughout the season, we (probably) could make arguments for all 128 teams this year. It just doesn’t matter because injuries and adjustments and the like are a part of the game.

Meanwhile, both TCU and Baylor rightfully feel snubbed. The Big 12 is the third-best conference behind the SEC and Pac-12, and as a result, both teams played much tougher and meaningful games throughout the season. Based on the eye-test, TCU’s a better team than Ohio State (and maybe FSU) and likely should be in the CFP. Based on résumé, Baylor deserves the spot, especially since the Bears defeated the Horned Frogs. Based on logic, basic human reasoning, everything that should matter in college football, Baylor and TCU earned it over Ohio State.

I’ve said this before, but what the committee had to decide, particularly with this inaugural selection, was what mattered more: eye test or résumé? That’s what TCU and Baylor represented, respectively. The committee ignored the question, hiding behind the Big 12 lacking a true champion.

The Big 12 now must organize a true conference championship game basically because the committee forced their hand with this decision. I don’t necessarily disagree that the Big 12 should have a championship (although I loathe that it’s another step in the march for homogenizing college football), but no team should be penalized because the conference doesn’t have enough teams to stage a championship game. Remember, the NCAA requires a conference to have 12 teams split among two division for a conference to organize a championship game.

Conferences should not have to play to the CFP committee in regards to how it organizes; on-field results -- not number of conference teams -- should be the factor. Whatever fallout happens from this will be interesting, but it’s disappointing because a) the top four teams aren’t in the postseason and b) it’s hard imagining a season in the near future where Baylor and TCU both have legitimate shots to qualify like this. Just because a rock wasn’t thrown doesn’t mean nobody got hurt.

-- Brendan Bures,

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