Sunday, December 4, 2016

Does College Football have an Electoral College?

It sure seems like it.  Alabama, Clemson, Washington, and the Big Ten Champio…

What?  You’re not taking the Big Ten Champion?  You’re taking the other team that played in the Championship?  No, not them either?  Then who ARE you taking?

Oh, the team you always wanted, no matter how they played.  And you ranked them AHEAD of one of the other Champions.  Sure.

OK, full disclosure:  I was born and raised in a small college town in Michigan with two words in its name; one is a woman’s name and one is a word for a leafy, shady recess formed by branches.  And it rhymes with “Pam Harbor.”  So I might just have a bit of a bias against Ohio State.

But there are plenty of people who are like me, grumbling that OSU gets to play in the 2016 College Playoffs, and not THE ACTUAL BIG TEN CHAMPION PENN STATE.  See, never mentioned my Wolverines once.

The case for Ohio State is…uh…what, exactly, other than they were highly ranked almost all year long (right behind perennial #1 Alabama).  Their one lost was to…let me think…oh, yeah, THE ACTUAL BIG TEN CHAMPION PENN STATE.  Yes, it was a close game and the winning score came late in the game.

Like the Buckeyes victory two weeks ago against Michigan, a game that, had more referees been from some other state than Ohio, Michigan might have won.  And there would have been no need for the double overtime.

Michigan feels your pain, Ohio.  You lost to THE ACTUAL BIG TEN CHAMPION PENN STATE on a weird play – a blocked field goal ran back for a TD.  Michigan lost on a last-second field goal to Iowa on a cold, rainy field – had they won that game, all of this would be academic.  Had Michigan State made their two-point conversion late in the MSU-OSU game, this all wouldn’t matter.  OSU had other close calls, at Wisconsin and at home with Northwestern.

But still the ranking committee loved your “strength of schedule” (which included Bowling Green and Tulsa), and…I’m not sure what else.  SB Nation might have said it best today:
The larger takeaway asks what role conference championships might hold in the future. The Big Ten was, without question, the strongest conference in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Penn State was its champion, and the victor against the Big Ten representative, Ohio State.  Let’s rephrase that for added emphasis: The champion of the nation’s best league was trumped by the league’s runner-up, and defeated that same team during the regular season.

Some folks have pointed out that Penn State lost a non-conference match to rival Pitt (by three), and that the selection committee doesn’t care much for teams to have blemishes like that.  In fact, only one team has ever made the playoffs with a non-conference loss. 

Guess who?  Ohio State in 2014.

Look, there’s a reason the playoffs were created, and then expanded.  Money.  Oh, and the idea that the best teams in the country should play, rather than select some team or two teams (when the playoffs included just two teams) by some arbitrary method.

So they expanded the playoffs to four teams, and it still seems as arbitrary as ever.  It was so in 2014 when both Baylor and TCU got the snub.  It was better last year, as the selections seemed obvious, but there were some that were miffed that the 12-1 Ohio State Buckeyes didn’t get an invite.  No, really.  Like this year, OSU was tied for the Big Ten East Division, but didn’t play in the Big Ten Championship because Michigan State won their head-to-head game (stop me if you’ve heard this one before).  It didn’t help when Alabama blew out the Spartans 38-0.

I guess the committee tried to make up for that slight with this year’s pick, making OSU the first non-conference champion to make the playoffs.

And you wonder why we hate the Buckeyes so.

Personally, I hope Clemson whips their ass, and badly.  Right now OSU is actually favored by three, despite being the #3 seed to Clemson’s #2.  You don’t need to ask where my money is, do you?

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