The slippery slope begins.

In its Auburn preview, CFN drops a line I’ve been expecting, but hadn’t really seen until now:

The season will be a success if … the Tigers get into College Football Playoff. Of course they want to win the SEC title again, but that doesn’t really matter so much in the new world – it’s all about being ranked in the top four.

Before you sneer and accuse me of overreacting to a throwaway media line, keep in mind that the College Football Playoff is officially on record as saying that conference championships are nothing more than a tiebreaker in the grand scheme of things now.

On the occasion of the two-year anniversary of its birth Friday, the College Football Playoff released a document to USA TODAY Sports and other outlets that reveals its vision for how teams should be selected. The document, drafted June 20, 2012, also details the order of criteria its founders envision for the selection committee to break ties when setting the four-team playoff field.

“Strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and championships won must be specifically applied as tie-breakers between teams that look similar,” the document reads. Those were proposed to differentiate between “teams with similar records and similar pedigree.”

Don’t be so surprised.  It’s the natural consequence of using a subjective formula to name the participants in the national playoffs.  And it’s the first step that makes people like me nervous about what kind of effect postseason expansion will have on college football’s regular season.

The problem with such a formula is that it’s inherently unstable.  Picking a top four based on the feelings of a selection committee is going to invite the inevitable second guessing that comes with the territory.  And that’s likely to intensify the first time a non-conference winner gets the nod ahead of a school that holds a power conference championship trophy.  There’s too much money and too much media attention involved to expect otherwise.

And there’s one obvious way to fix that problem.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

35 responses to “The slippery slope begins.

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    So everybody wants to be 2012 Florida. Miss the title game and back in.

    • Lrgk9

      The more the merrier. (And more moolah)

    • Go Dawgs!

      Florida won SEC titles in each of the years that they reached the BCS title game. Alabama is the only SEC team to miss out on the Dome and still get to the BCS title game. Nebraska also accomplished that feat out of the Big 12 if I’m not mistaken.

      • Cosmic Dawg

        And in fairness to Alabama, they proved they belonged there by winning that game. At least according to that system.

        If this is going to continue to be a subjective system, why is Rice preferable to Seth Emerson and grad assistants?

        Otherwise, 8 conferences with champs that go to the playoffs, easy. You would see organic re-alignment and parity as some of the weaker teams from.big conferences would join small conferences so they
        could compete for championship spots.

        The bowl games and polls really helped make cfb special, so why replace a.more fun subjective method with a less fun subjective method?

        So stinking stupid.

        • Will (the other one)

          Beating an LSU team with a questionable offense they lost at home to already but then had a month to prepare for proves nothing in my book. I still say they shouldn’t have been in that game.

          • Cosmic Dawg

            I get your reasoning, but that means you’re basically saying neither LSU OR Bama should have been in that game? I think it was still probably the best two teams in the country, but the fact that they’d already played made it a little anti-climactic, whatever happened.

  2. Go Dawgs!

    The SEC Championship is the only thing that is “settled on the field” in college football, even with the coming four team dog and pony show that will be settled in a board room by a former secretary of state among others before it ever gets TO the field. As such, the SEC title will always be a HUGE deal to every member institution. The league titles of all the power conferences will be a big deal.

    Besides, I don’t think that there will be many years where teams that fail to win a conference title will make the playoff field. For all intents and purposes, the College Football Playoff was created the day that LSU and Alabama were matched up in the BCS Championship. Ms. Rice and her crew are likely going to be giving teams like Boise their shot over deserving one-loss runner up teams from power conferences.

    • Hackerdog

      So, your position is that CFN doesn’t really understand college football? I disagree. Ask any Alabama fan if they view their 2011 national championship differently than the others. None of the fans I know put an asterisk by that championship because they didn’t win the SEC. As CFN put it, it no longer matters if the team makes the playoff anyway.

  3. Monday Night Frotteur

    Good. The sooner we get to 16 or 24 teams in the playoff, the better.

    My guess is that you are 100% correct about how undesirable the pressure that will come to bear on committee members deciding between #4 and #5 will be. These folks on the committee aren’t the type who normally seek out the rage and scrutiny that will come, and they’ll be ecstatic when somebody offers them a lifeline. Nobody really cares about the NCAA tourney snubs, especially from power conferences. An 18-12 Virginia Tech team doesn’t generate passionate defenses. Neither does an 8-4 LSU, or a 10-2 Fresno State.

    You are incorrect about the future expansion hurting the regular season, though. It will make the regular season substantially better.

    • Gosh, don’t I feel foolish now.

      • sUGArdaddy

        Some people just don’t get it, Senator. The magic will be lost. 10-2 might get you in the show some years. Certainly, the magic of an undefeated season will be lost. You simply don’t ‘need’ to go undefeated anymore. You can…but you just don’t need to. Moreover, the one-slip-up season will almost be gone.

        I will never forget my wife and I jumping up and down in our house when Oregon lost to Stanford on that crazy night in 2012 (after Baylor had blasted K-State). That will be lost because we already controlled our SEC destiny. Win the SEC with 1 loss and you’re in. My rooting interest in seeing an undefeated Pac-12 champ lose will be gone because what I know is that in MOST years the 4 teams are going to be the champions of 4 of the 5 conferences, as there is usually a weak conference front-runner w/ 2-3 losses in one of those leagues.

        2012 was such a fun ride because we were in the mix. the whole way of 4-5 teams trying to get 2 spots. And we had a pretty magical season, including an exclamation point in Jacksonville which all but demolished Florida’s chances. In the new world, that Florida team that we beat fair and square, beat out for the division title, and shared the same record would go to the playoff and we wouldn’t have. In 2012, the field would probably have included 1-loss Florida and 1-loss Oregon, who both lost their divisions and outright to Georgia and Stanford.

        Nah, it won’t hurt the regular season…What are you talking about?

      • Monday Night Frotteur

        Not sure why you’d feel foolish. You are correct about the mechanics of what’s coming next. You are incorrect only to the extent you think that the future will hurt the “meaning” of the regular season. It will make many more games “meaningful” for the real postseason, while having no effect on the intrinsic “meaning” of Georgia-GT, Virginia-VT, Michigan-OSU, etc.

  4. Scorpio Jones, III

    You wanted it. Now you got it. I can’t wait to see heads exploding on You Tube when…(Name the team) gets eliminated. If what is said above about LSU vs. Bama being the catalyst for this, then you could also posit that the most disappointment will be in BIG However-many-land.

    Oh, please, let it be Dickhead’s noggin bursting.

  5. Dog in Fla

    @Go Dawgs!
    June 23, 2014 at 9:09 AM
    “dog and p0ny show”

    I already know the ringmaster for the evening meetings

    “Good evening…Good evening everyone…Good evening distinguished delegates…Good evening fellow Republicans…Good evening my fellow Americans (h/t Ronald Reagan)…The promise of the Selection Committee (h/t ESPN) is engulfed in uncertainty, internal strife and hostile neighbors…Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand this reality and on a personal note, a little girl grows up in Jim Crow (h/t Thomas D. Rice) Birmingham (h/t Elton Bishop) the segregated city of the South (h/t hoses) where her parents can’t take her to a movie theatre or to a restaurant but they have her absolutely convinced that even if she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s (h/t where everything is 10 cents) lunch counter she could be President of the United States if she wanted to be and she becomes the Secretary of State. Now, first order of business, let’s vote on #3 in descending order (that means downward for those of you who majored in P.E. or got fired repeatedly…Ty, I’m looking at you) because Stanford (h/t The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace what is it good for) and Notre Dame (h/t Muffin McGraw) are already #1 and #2. Baghdad Bob, pass out the secret opaque ballots now chop chop…”

  6. Keese

    The BCS selection was a dumpster fire it’s first couple seasons as well. CFP needs 8 teams. It’s not this bracket creep bs nor will it devalue conference championships or the regular season. All the CFP will manage to do is give relevance to the end of the season instead of awful uninteresting bowl matchups we have now

  7. Macallanlover

    Not surprising to see CFN express an opinion that the playoff is more important than winning the conference, what they miss is this, not winning the SEC will keep them out of a 4 team playoff. All subjective opinions I realize, but my strong belief is the Committee will not repeat the mistake the BCS made in 2011. Now I am 100% on board, and do hope, they realize the goal of not playing in Atlanta again. And I hope it is our thrashing them that makes it so.

    • Did you not read the quoted language? Committee policy is that conference championship comes into play only if two teams are otherwise deemed equal. If not, no consideration of championship is to be given.

      • Keese

        Ok so teams need to win their conference

      • Macallanlover

        Don’t be so haughty, I read it and I simply don’t believe it will happen that way. I don’t think they will ever select a non-conference champion until the playoffs expand. And I would be willing to give you odds on that before every single year. That of course excepts ND because, well, nothing ever denies ND having an edge in CFB. It is an opinion, they have neither the cojones or ovaries to do that….and shouldn’t, imo.

        • Keese

          Mac…by now you should know that some people are just going to make anything try to fit into their point of view instead of being open minded and objective

          • Huh? So how do you interpret the CFP’s statement?

            • Keese

              I interpret the statement as a conference champ winning the tiebreaker between two teams closely matched among the other qualifying categories.

              The BCS format never guaranteed national championship inclusion by winning the conference. How’s this any different? A team still needs to win the conference championship in order to have the best possible chance of getting into the playoff. A LSU-Bama national championship situation….LSU has to play it on the field AND overcome a possible conference champion for inclusion into the CFP.

              • The BCS format never guaranteed national championship inclusion by winning the conference. How’s this any different?

                Because they’ve doubled the size of the playoff field.

          • Hackerdog

            Exactly. For example, when the playoff committee specifically states that conference championships won’t be a primary concern in choosing the best four teams, some people inexplicably believe that the committee wouldn’t DARE do exactly what it states it will do.

            • Macallanlover

              Yep, just what I think. Won’t be the first time you and I have felt differently about issues surrounding a playoff. It would be stupid to with 4 teams to have anything but conference champs, and this committee isn’t stupid. Again, imo.

              • Macallanlover

                Although, that extra ‘to” in my post may be a red flag that I am stupid. I am also happy to give you 10-1 odds against this happening every single year, $1000-100. You only have to be right once in a decade.

              • Hackerdog

                It would be stupid to disregard conference championships? But the committee has stated that they will do exactly that. Since you have confidence that they’re not stupid enough to disregard conference championships, does that mean that claiming that they will is smart?

        • Hackerdog

          So, given that the BCS, when choosing the top 2 teams in the nation, has already chosen a non-conference champion as one of its top 2 teams, you believe that expanding the field to 4 teams will make the playoff MORE exclusive? Hokay.

        • Cosmic Dawg

          I tend to take the middle road here. There may be a number of teams in the #3 #4 #5 #6 spots that look about the same, except one of them won their conference, and as you suggest, that team will go.

          However, you’re not going to see a 2-loss ACC champ beat out a 1-loss SEC team, I don’t believe.

          So perhaps you are all correct.

          • Macallanlover

            Wouldn’t that be great? Light up a stogie and sip The Macallan until late into the night celebrating universal genius opinions from GTP that all ended up being respected and credited. Nice thought Cosmic, but we prefer winners and losers here, no gray areas. Even if it is just an opinion on a subjective, future event, we prefer to assume everyone else is stupid to have their own take.

  8. Dog in Fla

    @Monday Night Frotteur
    June 23, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    “These folks on the committee aren’t the type who normally seek out the rage and scrutiny that will come, and they’ll be ecstatic when somebody offers them a lifeline.”

    Which may make some of the weaker members glad all over but for the domineering ones it violates the longstanding First Rule of Sociopaths’ Club – If you offer a Sociopath a lifeline, they’re ecstatic but stand by to get strangled

  9. AusDawg85

    A 10-2 Georgia team upsets one loss Bama in the SECCG and both watch a one loss Auburn go to the Playoffs. Sighhhhhh……