When I was a kid, college football was changing. Or at least so I was told. Miami and Florida State had arrived on the scene, supposedly proving it’s a new world. The Old “Gang Of Nine” no longer dominated college football.
Fast forward 20 years, and that really hasn’t happened. Someone can have a pretty good idea of who is going to be playing for the championship, even if they don’t follow college football too closely. That article was from 1979, and a lot of the names are still the same. Sure, some new ones pop up from time to time, but then fall by the wayside. Some of the most venerable names fall by the wayside, only to be resurrected when a batshit nuts coach in funny glasses is hired, restoring them to their former glory.
The thing is, college football HAS changed. Even the way it crowns it’s champion is a little different.
Unfortunately the people that decide who gets to play for the crown are from that bygone era. Virtually unlimited scholarships were a thing. The understanding of nutrition and exercise has vastly improved. Back then, a torn ACL ruined your career. Now, you are back on the field in 6 months. Changes in the passing rules made teams much more likely to pass, thus making it so you didn’t have to be the biggest, baddest team on the planet. There are a lot more good teams than there used to be.
Parity is here on an unprecedented level. In the olden days, number 5 didn’t get knocked off by a D1-AA team. (That’s what the ancients called the FCS back then.) When it happened to Michigan in 2007, it was written off as a fluke. A testament to just how bad the Big Ten had fallen, “they” said. Some even suggested that the Big Ten was no longer a power conference. When Boise State knocked off Oklahoma, it was because the Oklahoma players weren’t really trying. Just like a few years later when Bama got pushed around by Utah.
The number of G5 wins over P5 contenders the last few years is staggering. The Committee wants to pretend it hasn’t happened. They want to go back to the comfort and money of “gang of nine” land. Those teams are guaranteed to fill seats and put viewers in front of the TV. Or their ipad. Does the committee even know that’s a thing?
In the playoff era, there have been two champions. Two of the biggest, if not THE biggest names in college football history each won one. Each team had a loss. Here is the interesting part: each of the teams that beat the champion that year had a loss to a G5 team.
That’s all that separates the best of the best from the lowly G5. So if these run of the mill teams from the P5 can beat the best of the best, but lose to a G5, is it really that easy to go undefeated in a G5?
This is how some of the contenders have done against G5 and lesser competition this season, or against P5 teams that lost to a G5 or below.
- Number 3 Michigan. Lost to Iowa. Iowa lost to an FCS school.
- Number 4 Clemson. Lost to Pitt. Pitt lost to Oklahoma State, which lost to a team that only just hit 6 wins with one game to go in a “weak” MAC schedule.
- Number 6 Washington. Their loss wasn’t terrible, but what that did was put them a game behind Washington State in their powerful division. Washington State has a loss to G5 Boise State and an FCS school. Wazzu can’t beat an FCS school, but can be undefeated in a power 5 conference in mid-November.
- Number 9 Oklahoma. Lost to G5 Houston, which isn’t undefeated in the G5.
- Number 12 Utah. Beat SJSU by 1 and lost to Cal, which lost to SDSU.
- Number 13 Oklahoma State. Lost to Central Michigan, who is currently 3-4 in the MAC.
- Number 14 WVU. Lost to notorious Oklahoma State by double-digits.
- Number 15 Auburn. Lost to Georgia, who beat Nicholls State by 2. NICHOLLS STATE.
One or two of these results would be an anomaly. This many is definitely a trend. A trend that is going to continue. The Committee doesn’t see it that way. They put an undefeated Western Michigan squad at 21.
Their reasoning is that anyone can go undefeated with a G5 schedule. The top 10 this year couldn’t. They are sitting at 10-1 against the G5.
To prove the point on just how stuck in the past the committee is, they ranked Boise State, who isn’t even leading their division in the Mountain West and has a loss, over an undefeated WMU. Was it really because of this season, or some Statue of Liberty play over a decade ago that gave them that “brand-name” appeal?
I can’t say WMU deserves a shot at the title right now, partly because we haven’t seen what the rest of the season, or even the future of college football will bring. That being said, they certainly belong in the discussion and should definitely be ranked ahead of some of these teams that have had outright struggled against a G5, or struggled by proxy.
If an undefeated WMU isn’t even in the discussion, then they need to either call it the “Power Conference National Championship” or split Division 1 yet again.
Personally, I would like to see them expand the playoffs to 8 teams, and include a G5 each and every year. As more data comes in from elite G5 programs vs. P5 programs playing each other, they can adjust it in this ever-changing world of college football.
It’s time that the Committee sees that.