On Saturday, two Texas cities showed off teams that had resumes to top just about anyone in the country.
In Fort Worth, TCU won (or rather, split) its first Big 12 championship after a 55-3 drubbing of Iowa State, finishing the year with an 11-1 record and a strong argument to get into college football’s inaugural playoff bracket.
Meanwhile in Waco, with ESPN’s College GameDay present, the Baylor Bears definitively won over the Kansas State Wildcats, giving them their share of a Big 12 championship.
Given Baylor’s win over TCU in October, it wasn’t that much of a surprise when Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby was booed during the “co-champion” trophy presentation in McLane Stadium. Nor were the “one true champ” chants that followed, mocking the league’s nefarious slogan.
Baylor head coach Art Briles was particularly salty after Baylor’s win over Kansas State, calling out the system which he believed was unfair.
“If (Baylor’s) not in, the system doesn’t work,” Briles said about the college football playoffs.
Sorry Art. And sorry to the Horned Frogs. Maybe next year will work better.
After weeks of controversial calls and buzzwords like “game control,” the playoff committee got it right by sending in Ohio State as the fourth and final team.
No reasonable fan would argue that Alabama, Oregon or Florida State — all conference champions with big non-conference wins — don’t deserve to be one of the final four.
But Ohio State? It was just the right call, regardless of fan outcries.
The committee had its work cut out for them this year and with the Ohio State call. Not only would the committee be forced to keep one conference out under the playoff system due to spaces available, but anything the committee decided on for this year would be future precedent for future committees.
That’s where Ohio State came in. Despite losing to a 6-6 Virginia Tech team in week two, the Buckeyes went undefeated in conference play, including a 59-0 annihilation over the then-No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers for the championship.
The Buckeyes also shut down Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon’s Heisman hopes in that soul-crushing blowout and won the game with their third-string quarterback.
OSU’s a pretty darn good team. And although maybe they wouldn’t beat Baylor or TCU in a playoff showdown, they’re definitely the least controversial.
Consider for a moment if TCU or Baylor went into the playoffs. If TCU were to enter, their 61-58 head-to-head loss to their league “co-champion” would be null and void, something impossible to credit or admit as a committee.
If a head-to-head matchup doesn’t count, why does college football now have a system designed for a championship to be won via head-to-head matchups in the playoffs? Not only does it make bad sense, but it invalidates the simplest way to determine whether one team is better than the other, A.K.A. playing the game.
But, before Baylor fans can lift up their 61-58 signs and yell “Gary sucks” for the umpteenth time this season, it’s worth noting that admitting Baylor to the playoffs would make an even worse possibility in precedent.
In the Bears’ out-of-conference scheduling through 2019, Baylor plays just one Power Five conference team. There’s plenty of dates with Rice, Lamar, Liberty and the University of the Incarnate Word, but there’s not a single game coming up worth wasting time watching coming any time soon.
That scheduling was just as bad this year, as Baylor played Buffalo, SMU and FCS team Northwestern State, who combined for a paltry 12-22 this season.
If Baylor were to get into the playoffs, why should football ever see regular season games like UCLA-Texas, LSU-Wisconsin or Florida State-Notre Dame again? If the goal is to “just win,” there’s no point in playing good quality football games out of conference. It would just be better to schedule the Quasi-Directional Illinois Polytechnic State Windbags than it is a real opponent (my apologies to QDIPS).
The committee was not going to reward terrible football scheduling, which was again the right choice.
Now sure, Ohio State lost to a bad Virginia Tech team in The Horseshoe. That can’t be ignored. However, if that’s the only black mark, it’s a pretty minor one.
The Hokies are bowl-eligible and a respected Power Five program, known for giving teams fits. That said, the moral from Ohio State making the playoffs is one that any team can understand.
Thanks to including the Buckeyes, if a team plays a Power Five opponent and maybe even *gasp* loses early in the year, that squad can make it up by ravaging conference opponents and winning a championship game.
For a precedent, that’s a pretty good one.
Baylor and TCU are both high quality teams this year, and they’ll both do well in their respective bowl games. In maybe any other year, they’d both be making the playoffs, yet a decision had to be made on what precedents will go forward in football.
And this time, the committee got it right.
J.D. Moore is the Online Editor for The Daily Times. He’s also a graduate of TCU who harbors no hard feelings to the committee. No, none at all. He can be reached at email@example.com and 257-0318.