Should the College Football Playoff Committee separate teams from their conferences?


When the Big 10 face planted with a disastrous Saturday, the questions started immediately. Was the Big 10 was out of the playoff race already? The weekend was so bad Big 10 commissioner Jim Delany felt compelled to defend his conference.

“You want to make sure the narrative and the facts are aligned at the end,” he said. “It’s too early for any narrative for the narrative to be fully developed. We had some opportunities we didn’t cash in on. I realize that they’re disproportionally impactful but they’re not dispositive. If they were, we’d cut the line here. “

You know what happened… Ohio State lost Virginia Tech, Michigan lost to Notre Dame, Michigan State lost to Oregon, Purdue lost to Central Michigan, Northwestern lost to Northern Illinois, Nebraska went to the finals seconds with something called McNeese St., Iowa struggled with Ball State.

This leads us to a bigger question though. Should the College Football Playoff Committee separate teams from their conferences? Can they even if they wanted to?

In a perfect world the answer is Yes they should separate teams from their conferences. The committee could compare teams in a vacuum. The conference politicking would come to end, and we could just say team X is better than team Y.

Michigan State played on the road at Oregon this past Saturday. That is one of the toughest places to play in the country. I’m not sure there is any team in the country that could win there right now. If Michigan State runs the table and goes 11-1, will they be give a fair comparison to another Power 5 conference team that goes 11-1? What about an 11-1 Wisconsin? They actually led LSU until a late collapse in week 1.

It’s not just a Big 10 problem. If we were talking about most of the 2000s, we would be asking these questions about the ACC. BYU this year could go 12-0 and their schedule will be dissected for credibility.

Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world. From the committee’s selection protocol. 

  1. Principles. The committee will select the teams using a process that distinguishes among otherwise comparable teams by considering:
    • Conference championships won,
    • Strength of schedule,
    • Head-to-head competition,
    • Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory), and,
    • Other relevant factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance

To separate teams from their conference is going to be a near impossibility. In fact as I said a couple of weeks, when I started ranking the conferences on a weekly basis, the conference comparison will only increase not decrease.

Conference Championships won, SOS, Comparative outcomes of common opponents… I don’t think you can get anymore tied to your conference than that.

Sorry Big 10 in 2014, it’s a narrative, but it’s a narrative that is directly tied to the playoff team selection. Fair? Probably not, but that is what we will see more and more of going forward.

That’s why I’ll favor and continue to favor the 8 team playoff with 5 Conference Champions 2 Wildcards and the best team in the group of five. You’ve taken most of the conference campaigning out of 6 of the 8 spots, and left the decision making to the results. I could go on and on, but that’s a post for another day.


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