The anticipation, the plot twists, and the unfolding drama all culminated in the long-awaited unveiling of the final CFB Playoff committee rankings, which would determine the “Top 4 Teams” poised to compete for the national championship.
In this unfolding narrative, the Big 12 Conference emerged as the undeniable underdog, with their rallying cry, “One True Champion,” leading to unforeseen consequences.
The tension peaked when Art Briles, standing alongside Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the podium, delivered a loud rebuke, driven by the paradox of the “Big 12 Co-Championship” trophy.
Briles seemed adamant in his desire for Baylor to be anointed as the sole “One True Champion” of the Big 12. Still, this aspiration clashed with the predetermined criteria established by the Big 12 earlier in the season.
The irony didn’t stop there. The purported round-robin format, touted as a hallmark of the Big 12, was itself called into question.
It’s worth pondering which is more ironic: the Big 12’s motto or the hypothetical scenario where an actual 12-team Big 12 would likely host a conference championship game, starkly contrasting their current predicament.
Regarding NCAA regulations, a conference typically requires a minimum of 12 teams to be eligible for a conference championship game.
While the autonomy of the Power 5 conferences may introduce potential amendments to this rule, such changes would necessitate the approval of the other four Power 5 Conferences.
Amidst the ongoing saga, one recurrent theme remained—the inscrutable factors employed by the CFB Playoff committee in their rankings. Phrases like “Eye Test,” “Game Control,” and “Clean Slate” were incessantly invoked to rationalize the often dramatic shifts in the rankings.
Yet, peeling away the layers of this complex narrative, one could discern a lurking suspicion that ESPN’s weekly broadcast of the committee’s deliberations aimed to generate ratings.
In all this intrigue, the most significant injustice appeared to be the false hope extended to CFB players from Baylor and TCU, who were led to believe they had a legitimate chance at making the playoffs compared to Ohio State.
One of the most glaring anomalies emerged in last week’s rankings, where TCU unexpectedly soared to the third spot, even in the wake of a victory by FSU (which was demoted from third to fourth place) and a loss by Mississippi State, the then-fourth-ranked team.
The rationale behind TCU surpassing Mississippi State made sense, but the question lingered: Why was TCU ever ranked higher than Baylor after their loss to the latter?
Why the delay in factoring in head-to-head matchups until the end of the season? Jeff Long never provided a clear answer to this perplexing question.
The only plausible explanation seems to point towards a strategic maneuver for boosting ratings, an attempt to legitimize the committee’s weekly trips to Dallas for their highly-anticipated rankings reveal.
It was only in the last order that the committee unveiled its accurate evaluation methodology.
The most bewildering move occurred when TCU, previously perched at #3, saw an abrupt drop to #6 immediately after a resounding victory over Iowa State. The inconsistency left everyone scratching their heads.
Either TCU was never genuinely deserving of the #3 spot, or their emphatic win should have warranted a sustained ranking.
The decision to place Baylor ahead of TCU based on their win over Kansas State seems arbitrary, especially when TCU had also conquered Kansas State.
The committee’s logic appeared to lack consistency. The moment Baylor defeated TCU, it should have secured its higher ranking for the remainder of the season, without question.
Ohio State’s rise to prominence hinged on their commanding triumph in the Big 10 Championship game, particularly their ability to quiet the prolific rushing prowess of Melvin Gordon, one of the most formidable running backs in college football history.
The victory wasn’t solely attributed to the impressive performance of their third-string quarterback, Cardale Jones, although that was undeniably remarkable.
Instead, it was Ohio State’s defense’s ability to shut down Gordon that indeed underlined their deserving status as the fourth team in contention.
The title of Coach of the Year should undoubtedly be awarded to Urban Meyer and his dedicated staff.
Their remarkable feat of not only losing the 2013 Big Ten Player of the Year but also seeing the potential Heisman Candidate J.T. Barrett sidelined, only to prepare their third-string quarterback for a performance even more efficient than Braxton Miller’s in the previous year’s Big Ten Championship game, is nothing short of astounding.
It’s a narrative marked by resilience. Ohio State, amidst the tragic loss of a teammate, managed to rise above the adversities that defined the 2014 season.
Their ability to overcome such hardships is arguably the defining story of the college football season. Their current momentum suggests that Alabama should be vigilant when they cross paths.
While it’s fair to acknowledge that the playoff committee ultimately selected the correct four teams for the playoff, the weekly fluctuations and lack of clear justification for these decisions left much to be desired.
Although personal preferences might have led to a different ranking order, what truly irks me is the sense of false hope that was perpetuated for the other one-loss teams.
Above all, it’s essential to consider the impact on the football players representing these teams.
To raise their hopes only to dash them, particularly when the lack of a championship game essentially predetermined the Big 12’s fate in these rankings, hardly seems equitable to these dedicated athletes.
Their commitment deserves more than being used as pawns in the grand scheme of college football’s evolving landscape.