We are a little more than a month away from the initial meeting of the Selection Committee for the first College Football Playoff. The playoff website provides quite a list of criteria to be considered by the committee in its deliberations. That list of criteria should be narrowed to one: use common sense.
Finding examples of common sense in college football right now is a challenge.
Jameis Winston, quarterback of the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles and reigning Heisman Trophy winner, earned himself a suspension last week against division rival Clemson. Winston jumped on a table at the FSU student union and shouted a vulgar phrase currently making the rounds as a popular internet meme. His silly act probably would not have resulted in quite so significant a punishment had Winston not already compiled a pretty long list of transgressions that range from college pranks to petty crime to an alleged potential felony.
The stupidity and knuckle-headedness is certainly not limited to players.
A big-time athletic director and member of the selection committee (Pat Haden of USC) charged down on the field to confront officials during a recent game. Another athletic director from a power conference (Julie Hermann of Rutgers and the Big Ten) committed her latest embarrassing gaffe by making a tasteless joke about the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
With common sense in such short supply, here are three quick tips for the selection committee.
Early season games count as much as those near the end of the year. Should a loss in a conference championship game hurt a team more than a September loss? No. However, historically teams are better off by failing to reach a conference championship game than reaching it and losing.
Discipline issues should hurt teams. So a star player gets suspended for one game, and his team loses that game but wins out. That loss should count just as much as any other.
Choose the four best teams – period. We might see two squads from the same conference in the playoff this season because no schools from the Big Ten and AAC seem likely to land a spot. So, expect the champs of the Big 12, PAC-12, and SEC to be there, leaving one opening. Notre Dame could potentially slide into the last slot, but it’s more likely a second team from one of the power conferences will be there this year.
Around the Nation
While summer ends, the college football season really heats up this week.
Thursday night provides fans two nice games as Texas Tech plays at Oklahoma State, and UCLA travels to Tempe to take on Arizona State. That Bruin-Sun Devil matchup will go a long way in determining the PAC-12 South champ.
The top weekend games include what could be an offensive shootout when Arkansas plays Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. That game commences the SEC West race, where so many national contenders will try to avoid killing each other’s playoff chances. The SEC East offers up Tennessee tangling with Georgia between the hedges in Athens, and Missouri traveling to South Carolina.
Out in the PAC-12, Stanford plays at Washington in the first big test for new Husky head coach Chris Petersen. Mike Riley takes his always tough Oregon State squad to LA for a game with USC. Ohio State hosts in-state rival Cincinnati in what might be an interesting game. Unbeaten Notre Dame meets Syracuse at Met Life Stadium in a primetime ABC game.
Note – this column originally appeared in The Blitz (Volume 4 Issue 5; Sept 25-27 2014)