It’s all about the brand, baby.
Strength of schedule. Good wins. Bad losses. Conference championships.
None of it matters, really.
When you get down to the nitty gritty of everything, it doesn’t.
Come College Football Playoff time, if your brand is strong, if it’s ingrained in people’s minds, you got a shot to get in – even if you have not one, but two bad losses, or no conference championship on your current resume. Heck, you don’t need an invite to the conference championship on it anymore.
This is what we call best? Unequivocally best?
Puh-leeze. Cue the Muttley laugh track …
Sorry, just not buying it. Especially the “without a doubt” proclamations.
Thing is, when you have more than 120 schools supporting gridiron programs at the highest non-professional level and only four are going to gain access to the winner-take-all party, debates and perhaps bitter feelings are going to emerge.
There is no perfect process to determine “the best” foursome, because they are far too many factors that even the most detailed analytics known to man could decipher, let alone what the “eye test” reveals.
But the big debate as the regular season closed for all schools not named Army or Navy was whether Alabama or Ohio State deserved to be the fourth and final entrant into the national semifinals, especially once it became clear that Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia had nailed down berths …
Huh? Really? Say what?
If we’re not talking the two most recognizable brands in college football, neither would even be in the discussion. Or, more to the point, the sole focus of it.
The Buckeyes, frankly, had no business even being mentioned. Not when they had a 31-point loss on the road and a 15-point loss at home on their ledger.
The Tide? Only one loss, but it was a decisive one to its fiercest rival, and it didn’t even play in the title game for the Southeastern Conference, which, by the way, ranked a mere fourth among the Power 5 this fall. Yet, with Bama and SEC champ Georgia, it received two spots in the semis.
The mind boggles … or at least it should.
Forget the damn brands. Every team from No. 6 through 12 had as solid an argument, if not better, as Bama and fifth-ranked Ohio State for that final berth.
- Wisconsin: 12 wins, its one loss to Ohio State by 6 in Big Ten title game, 2-1 vs. ranked teams.
- Auburn: 10 wins, SEC finalist, 3-1 vs. ranked teams, including wins against Alabama and Georgia.
- Southern California: 11 wins, Pac-12 champ, 3-2 vs. ranked teams.
- Penn State: 10 wins, 1 win vs. ranked team, 2 road losses vs. ranked teams by combined 4 points.
- Miami: 10 wins, Atlantic Coast Conference finalist, 2-1 vs. ranked teams.
- Washington: 10 wins, 1-0 vs. ranked teams.
- Central Florida: 12 wins, only undefeated FBS team in country, American Athletic Conference champ, 2-0 vs. ranked teams.
Reality is, expansion is needed in order to truly proclaim a legit national champ. Does it have to be 12, 16, 6 or 8?
Not really sure. But, right now, 4 isn’t enough. Not when the only separation you have between the haves and too many of the have-nots is brand name come playoff time.