First, I have a confession to make. It’s a dirty little secret I don’t let too many people around Hustle Belt Nation know.
Along with my love of all things MAC, I root for a Power 5 team, too. Not just any Power Five; I root for Ohio State. An entitled, perpetually over-ranked team that is the bane of every G5 fan in America.
As awful as this is, it gives me two advantages when writing this article.
First off, I know how “they” think. I know what the entitled think they are entitled too. Maybe not quite on the SEC level, but a close second.
Secondly, in the two years of college football playoffs, Ohio State has been a bubble team. In the previous 17 of the BCS, Ohio State was in consideration for a spot in the late months many times. I've scouted teams and ran through fictional scenarios until my teeth hurt from gritting so much.
What does this have to do with the MAC, you say?
Well, one of the reasons I love the MAC is for the simplicity of their season. If Toledo wins out, they win their division, and play for the MAC championship.
No rankings, committees or politics can change that. Unless of course you put on the tin foil hat and believe that the refs will homer Toledo in their game against WMU, preventing them from winning for the good of the conference. In the Power Five world, that is a very real possibility. That’s another article for another day.
That simplicity left the Power Five world decades ago. It’s all about the big bowl games, and the money that comes with. Win a national championship, and even more money flows.
The people that want that money jostle and politick their way to it. They stamp out opposition, and it has little to do with what happens on the field. They hedge their bets, and do everything they can to get as much money as possible.
Conspiracy theory BS, you say? Let me give you a little story.
In the wild world of the first playoffs in 2014, the Big 12 had two teams with identical records in Baylor and TCU. How do you determine the champion? Well, normal convention would say “Head-to-head, easy, peasy.”
Except they went a different route. They decided to call both teams co-champions. The move was made with the guise of awarding the teams for great seasons, but the Big 12 also hoped that it would force the Committee's hands into placing both teams in the final bracket.
The story has a happy ending: it backfired. Ohio State got in, and won the first playoff as the 4 seed.
That win changed the narrative of college football, from 3 SEC teams in the playoffs, to a more inclusive one. More inclusive as long as you aren’t a G5.
Fast forward to Saturday. The day started off easy for the Committee. You had four undefeated Power Five teams, all in keen positions to win their respective conferences. Then, three of them lost.
Now, the Power Five conference championships are in flux. One of the many scenarios is that Ohio State could finish the season 11-1, and not win their division in the Big Ten. Wisconsin looks like the favorite to win out of the west. Easy choice for the Committee to send Wisconsin, right? Except Ohio State beat Wisconsin, and would have also beaten the other team to beat Wisconsin.
Depending on what happens around the rest of the college football world, this could be bad for WMU. Two-loss Wisconsin, with their wins over Nebraska, LSU and Penn State, plus the Big Ten victory probably gets in the final 4. Ohio State, with only 3 losses in three years, a playoff win, and wins over Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Oklahoma also might get in. Oh, and aside from what happened on the field, both teams travel extremely well to bowl games, and move the meter on the TV.
That’s a lot to swallow if you are undefeated WMU.
So what should their fans be rooting for in this dysfunctional college football world?
It’s not just about WMU this season, but for WMU in the future. And not just WMU, but all the MAC. And not just all the MAC, but all the G5.
Think of little Billy in the picture on the cover, getting his face painted, wanting to win more than just the MAC. Maybe he is a late bloomer, or goes to a high school that is too small. Do you want poor little Billy to have to suffer the indignity of going undefeated and not getting a chance to play for the title?
(To be fair, I don’t know the kid in the picture, his name could be Billy, though parents rarely go with traditional names and he seems completely disinterested in football. But that’s not the point.)
The point is if you want to crown a champion of an 128-team league, you need to include ALL teams.
If WMU wins all their games, they should get a shot. Under the current system, they don’t. In some years, it’s easy to not include them. But this season, with the chaos that has already transpired, it’s a little harder. More chaos, more discussion.
Chaos forces a conversation, and WMU will inevitably have to be involved if the options start to run dry.
So here is what I want to happen in Power Five land:
- Big 12. Oklahoma State wins the Big 12. If they win out, they would have a loss in conference and a loss* (yes, that * is a dig to all CMU fans) to a G5. Solid Gold.
- PAC-12. Washington State wins out, and wins the PAC-12. On Wazzu's resume is a loss to a G5, and another loss to an even more plebeian FCS school.
- ACC. Clemson loses to Wake, and Louisville wins the ACC. After losing their last 2 games against Houston (G5) and Kentucky (lost to a G5). I am ok with Clemson winning the ACC but losing to South Carolina, too.
- Big Ten. I want OSU to win out, Penn State to lose, and OSU win it all. You want Michigan to win out, and leave no doubt of the Big Ten representative to the playoffs.
- SEC. Bama win out, and be the sole representative of the SEC.
Would this put WMU in the playoffs? Probably not, but I am more inclined to believe that possibility than when I woke up Saturday morning.
In this scenario, you have 2 guarantees for the playoffs, the Big Ten and SEC champs. The remaining three conferences are all left with both a serious debate and G5 blemishes.
Make the committee look like fools when they select the team that makes more money. Then, and only then, will they possibly look at giving the G5 a fair chance.
This is good for WMU, and any G5.
Do you know who it is also good for? The people that make money off college football. Now the G5 starts paying more attention when Michigan plays Iowa. The P5 starts paying more attention when WMU plays Toledo (who, let me say in the most biased fashion will kick WMU's ass.)
More attention, more money. WMU must find a way to game the system. And Team Chaos must help.