The first College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday, and they have not aged well. The top ranked Tennessee Volunteers were humbled by Georgia, and Clemson responded to their leapfrog of Michigan to the coveted fourth spot with a humiliating loss to Notre Dame. A loss in the Top Four was to be expected with two teams squaring off, but to have two of the top teams get manhandled is not a good look.
The Committee will have another chance this week to formulate new rankings, and it will be interesting to see if the SEC bias continues to show. The first iteration had four SEC teams in the Top Ten: Tennessee (1), Georgia (3), Alabama (6), and LSU (10). Most fans were fine with Tennessee at the top spot, and no one really was bothered by Georgia in the top four. Alabama ahead of an undefeated TCU was not received well by all, but it’s Bama baby. A two loss LSU team ahead of one loss UCLA and Ole Miss was a head scratcher. The only thing that most people could figure is that it was SEC bias. Still, there is so much parity this year that most of us just shrugged it off.
The next poll will show us how infatuated the Committee is with the SEC and whether or not anyone outside of the SEC really gets respect. Below are two polls: one of what it should be and one that could very well be what the Committee rolls out.
Reality’s Top 10
1. Georgia: AP had them #1, and they just destroyed the “#1” team
2. Ohio St: Some say Michigan should be here, but the Buckeyes hold on
3. Michigan: It ain’t pretty but the Wolverines wear people down
4. TCU: Undefeated is Undefeated in my book
5. Tennessee: They might be better than the teams ahead of them but just got pummeled
6. Oregon: On a streak since getting stomped by Georgia
7. UCLA: has a good win against the Utes
8. LSU: The Bama win is good, but the win against Ole Miss is over hyped
9. Clemson: Notre Dame always give the Tigers problems, but DJU is back to being DJU
10. USC: Sure they have’t beaten anyone, but they only have one loss
Out: Bama: it has two losses, but the win against Texas was a crap call by the officials that changed the game. Bama is a three loss team.
The Committee’s Version and Rationale
1. Georgia: We always loved them and meant to rank them #1 but mis-clicked
2. Ohio State: We like to keep Buckeye fans happy, and we have been giving more love to OSU than Michigan-let’s show everyone we know what we are talking about.
3. Tennessee: The last five years, the top team in the initial rankings has always made the playoffs-can’t break with tradition.
4. Michigan: Drat, do we really have to put another Big 10 team in? We might need to pay refs in Columbus to keep us looking competent.
5. LSU: They beat Bama and have wins over powerhouse Ole Miss, Florida, Miss St, and Auburn, so they are probably better than Michigan. Can we move them to #4? Sure, Michigan is now #5.
6. TCU: Dang, another undefeated team making it difficult for us to do what we want. Umm, they don’t play defense, and we want balanced teams. I think Bama has better cheerleaders (not that we know because we haven’t watched a TCU game yet). TCU is getting dropped to 7th.
7. Bama: Two losses to higher ranked teams by a total of four points and in the SEC. Good enough for us. Let’s move Bama to #6.
8. Oregon: We’ll throw a bone to the West Coast.
9. Ole Miss: They were just on the outside and had an “epic” win against Jimbo and the Best Team Money Can Buy. Plus, they beat Troy in their opening game. Maybe we should move them to #8. Too much work-next week.
10. Tie Clemson (good name brand-keep them happy) and Notre Dame (everyone loves to hate the Irish, and it makes a good story line to keep them in the hunt).
Out: USC and UCLA: Wait why did we put in that many PAC 12 teams last week? PAC 12 doesn’t get us ratings.
Some of this is tongue in cheek, but it’s believable. The SEC as a powerhouse is part truth and part hype. Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi St, Florida, Arkansas, and Texas A&M have all been ranked this year and have not looked good, but football is king in the South. The Committee needs to create story lines, so they will do what it takes to keep the right programs hyped up. While the final rankings are the only ones that matter, the Committee sends clear messages about whom they want in the playoffs and whom they don’t. The decision to put Tennessee into the top spot in the first rankings was a huge tip-off that there will be two SEC teams in the playoffs this year. It’s self preservation (look we always get the top two right) and a bias toward football markets. Hopefully, the Committee does the right thing, but hoping for that is like hoping to get good candidates for president in ’24.