I haven’t had an appropriate opportunity to rant against the most corrupt organization in sports – the NCAA, making billions off the backs of student athletes without a lick of oversight – in quite some time.
Now that we’re in “Playoff Committee” time here in November, it’s time to call out the NCAA for this ridiculous atrocity, designed to do one thing and one thing only – make the NCAA more money, by driving up the “hype” factor of the college football playoff.
You know the playoff that doesn’t begin until January? You know, the playoff that has a constantly-hyped national TV show every week, designed to get fat checks from corporate sponsors? Yeah, that college football playoff!
Can you imagine, even for a minute, if the NFL held a mid-season poll so a group of high profile bureaucrats, administrators and big name celebrities (does Condoleezza Rice really know the in’s and out’s of college football) could vote on who the top teams were? Of course you can’t imagine such a thing, because it’s a ludicrous concept.
If these polls never existed, there would be no clamoring from the public for a poll now. It wouldn’t matter, except this poll still holds weight – at least for the one-loss teams. You know, those same one-loss teams the committee will inevitably have to choose between to set up the upcoming four team playoff?
We certainly know college football polls routinely overrate “name” schools. Look no further than the preseason poll this year that placed “name” schools like Oregon, Auburn, USC and Georgia all in the Top 10. Those teams all have at least three losses now, and none rank in the Top 25.
My key point is about mid-season polls, like the one the playoff committee is releasing every Tuesday from here on out, drawing ratings and building the hype.
The NFL didn’t anoint the Atlanta Falcons as the best team in the league following their 4-0 start. Carolina is 8-0 now, but they’re not getting hyped beyond belief and gifted a trip to the NFC Championship Game (a spot in the NFL’s Final Four). No, the oft-criticized NFL at least gets one key thing right – they let it play out on the field before anointing the championship contenders.
I have issues with the playoff selection committee as a concept, but in 2015, such things exist. But what drives me bananas are these weekly “Playoff Committee Top 25” shows that do absolutely nothing except to 1) make a lot of money for the NCAA and their broadcast partners and 2) create excuses for why deserving teams get left out of the mix.
Why did the Big 12 get shut out last year? Well, the committee had their top entrants, TCU and Baylor, too low from the start, and they stayed too low at the finish of the process.
If we didn’t have a Playoff Committee Selection Show every week in November, this stuff could play out on the field very nicely. Last week, both Alabama and LSU were ranked among the committee’s top four teams. Gee, wouldn’t that differentiation be easier if the voters had actually waited until the game was played!
We’re going to find out if Oklahoma State is better than Baylor – they play later this month. Is Oklahoma or TCU the more deserving one-loss squad? We’ll find out this coming weekend.
We’re going to know whether Notre Dame or Stanford deserves a spot – if they can win out between now and their regular season finale.
Iowa and Ohio State will face off for an “autobid” if they both remain undefeated heading into the Big 10 Championship Game. Clemson is in great shape for now, but we still won’t know if the Tigers are worthy of their current No. 1 ranking by the committee until they face off against under-rated, under-hyped one-loss North Carolina in the ACC title game – if the two teams keep winning between now and then.
Note that undefeated Oklahoma State was ranked below five different one-loss teams in the initial 2015 ranking, No. 14 overall. They’ll make a jump in the rankings this week after beating TCU, but still likely to be rated below one-loss Alabama, and potentially behind one-loss Notre Dame and one loss Stanford as well.
I approach college football as a moneymaking endeavor, not like the vast majority of “fans” out there. And the committee’s flawed and pointless early ranking offers the opportunity to at least find some positive expectation wagers to make as the pressure ratchets up on these kids down the stretch run while the pointspreads involving the hyped teams rise higher and higher.
Look no further than the pointspread results from last week for a clear example. Clemson beat Florida State at home, but the spread was at least a little bit inflated as the Tigers won by 10 but failed to cover -12.5 (both the opening and closing spread, although it was bet down as low as -10.5 for a stretch).
Ohio State was No. 3 in the inaugural poll, but the Buckeyes continued their season long trend of winning but not covering. Baylor, ranked 6, didn’t cover at Kansas State. Michigan State at 7 lost outright at Nebraska.
TCU at 8, lost outright at Oklahoma State. No. 10 Florida didn’t sniff a cover against Vanderbilt, scoring only nine points in a game they needed to win by more than three TD’s to reward their backers. Even those two Top Ten committee teams that covered (not counting Alabama, they played another Top Ten team in LSU) – Notre Dame and Iowa – had no margin for error, each covering the closing spread by a field goal or less.
Bottom line: Extra hype does not equate with pointspread success on a regular basis.