This is an article about...well, it’s about something.
The College Football Playoff is a branding legend already. I mean, come on, it got all of us to believe the Ohio State Buckeyes were somehow a lovable underdogs in 2014.
When those underdogs won, oh, the drama was unbelievable. And you can bet your ass my sports brain was going nuts.
How did we go so long without a playoff? WHY AM I CHEERING FOR OHIO STATE? Why is there a contract with Satan with my signature on it on my desk? My sports package is how much? This is just like college basketball now! Amazing!
Except it wasn’t. And it isn’t.
If a committee were formed to determine only the Final Four, you’d have 10 teams with a legitimate shot at inclusion, followed by another blue-blood rebranded as an underdog somehow.
"Sure, Kansas has seven losses, but I don’t give a flying Phog Allen about Monmouth”
I think Western Michigan is one of the best teams in the country.
Top four? Nope. Top 10? Probably not. Top 15? Yeah, sure, that sounds fine. You know what else is fine? 17. 17 seems perfectly fair for a team with a weak schedule (not their fault) that has done nothing but pummel its competition since week one (definitely their fault).
17 is where Western Michigan sits after Tuesday, and close behind it lies Navy, at 19. Playoff Committee chair, Kirby Hocutt weighed in on the two:
Hocutt on WMU/Navy: WMU has only beaten two FBS teams with winning record. Navy has three quality wins and have two games left.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 30, 2016
You can read this a number of ways, but to me it says: “we think WMU has hit its ceiling at 17, so unless Navy slips up, plan on rowing that boat somewhere other than Texas."
It doesn’t matter that WMU has beaten every conference team by at least 14. It doesn’t matter they haven’t played a close game since week one.
It matters only that Navy beat Houston, Tulsa and Memphis (at least, I’m assuming they mean Tulsa, and not Notre Dame when they say “quality” win).
It doesn’t matter Navy beat Notre Dame by only one, or UConn (UConn!) by only four.
This is a world of quality losses. Low quality wins matter not, and a loss to Air Force can be dismissed as a hiccup. If you’re from a conference they favor, just win at all costs. If you’re not, well, your wins aren’t good enough. Don’t bother trying to figure out what that means, either. They’re just going to move the goalposts
When you consider the College Football Playoff committee, it behaves about how you’d expect a dozen humans to behave when arguing about sports: stupidly.
I don’t have a problem with the committee thinking Navy is better than WMU. I do have a problem with how they subjectively determine what matters when evaluating teams.
If top 25 wins mattered, Navy and Wisconsin would be fighting it out for the sixth spot.
If head-to-head mattered, Penn State wouldn’t have to worry about missing out on the playoff if it wins the Big Ten, and Ohio State would be the one concerned.
Oh, and Florida State wouldn’t be ranked ahead of Louisville, a team it lost to by 43 points. 43!
Hocutt’s explanation for that one? Strength of Schedule. No, seriously:
Hocutt on FSU/Louisville, cites big SOS difference. Notes Louisville only beat one team w/ a winning record, head to head was early in year.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 30, 2016
The FSU vs Louisville game took place just seven days prior to the Penn State vs Michigan game, so naturally the same “head to head was early in the year” logic should carry through to them, right?
SHOW ME WHAT'S BEHIND DOOR NUMBER FOUR:
Fifth Rankings: The top four teams going into Selection Weekend.— CFBPlayoff (@CFBPlayoff) November 30, 2016
2. Ohio State
4. Washington pic.twitter.com/hsrqT0eTrp
Let's try that again... door number six?
5. Michigan— CFBPlayoff (@CFBPlayoff) November 30, 2016
They even tweeted five and six alone, just in case you were crazy enough to think a team that lost early to two top 25 teams and beat Ohio State had a chance to play for a national title.
I don’t want to be accused of being a stan for Penn State (I hate them, and also your favorite team, whoever t) and I don’t want to be accused of being some drooling homer, but I do think expecting a bit of clarity from the committee is perfectly reasonable.
The thought of a 13-0 WMU being passed up by a two-loss team from the AAC is frustrating, and if you’re a fan of a MAC school it should frustrate you, too.
After all, when they talk about that trash schedule of theirs, it’s you they’re talking about. If only you were good enough to lose to WMU by 3 each week we wouldn’t be in this mess!
Most of the arguments for WMU, Penn State or Louisville to not be ranked behind a team it beat by 43 stem from an idea that fairness and logic might prevail as concepts in all things, but I don’t know if you’ve heard about 2016: there was this weird election, a bunch of famous people died and the 73-9 Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the finals to a team from CLEVELAND - which is a fact the absurdity of this playoff selection should never distract you from.
I guess my point, if I even have one, is for WMU fans, fans of other MAC schools or football fans in general, to remember that this is all just one giant, flawed TV show. That’s not a profound thought or anything, it’s just how things are. But like a TV show, even if the writing makes no sense and everyone knows how it ends anyway, you can still get mad.
And I do get mad. Every Tuesday night. I get mad at where WMU stands in comparison to its G5 peers in the eyes of the committee. But every Wednesday I wake up thinking how goddamn cool it is that Western is even included in this show - even if it is just as an extra. I can’t ever understand why I was so mad in the first place.
Don’t let any of this ruin the ride. Don’t let Kirby Hocutt, who amidst a pretty talented coaching carousel has decided to sit it out and stick with Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech, be the voice that convinces you what a good football team looks like. Don’t let a sports media that declared Texas “back,” take away from how you feel about any of this. Don’t let being included in this farce destroy the fun of being 12 or 13-0. Sports are fun, damn it, and if they aren’t anymore, turn off the TV.