INAUGURAL PLAYOFF RANKINGS: PREMATURE, OVER-DISSECTED AND UNNECESSARY
You would think Moses had returned to announce a new version of the Ten Commandments.
Perhaps that would explain the hype and consternation surrounding the College Playoff Committee’s revealing of its first Top 25 rankings Tuesday night.
I understand ESPN’s interest in the issue, especially considering they hold the contract to televise the playoff, etc. But from the beginning of the season, the exaggeration and constant projection of the four teams that will make the playoff has been the most over-hyped, waste of time and space of anything in the history of college football that I have witnessed.
For the record: Mississippi State is No. 1, Florida State is No. 2, Auburn is No. 3 and Ole Miss is No. 4.
Here’s some news – no more than one, maybe two of those teams -- will make the inaugural playoff field, in my humble opinion, when it is announced on Dec. 7.
Ohio State, ranked No. 16, was a few slots farther South than most Buckeye fans expected. And Nebraska of all teams was ranked one notch above.
Kirk Herbstreit seems to be the only ESPN pundit with perspective on this entire issue.
“Relax,” he said to no one in particular Tuesday night. “If your team is as good as you think they are, they will get the chance to win all of their games and work their way up. So just relax.”
If the Buckeyes (6-1) upset Michigan State next Saturday, run the table, then defeat the Big Ten West champ (Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa or Minnesota) on Dec. 6, they would be 12-1 and I would be shocked if they weren’t sitting at No. 3 or 4 – only because all of those teams ranked 1 through 15 are about to start beating up on each other.
And remember, Ohio State doesn’t need all 15 to lose again – just 12 of them. It’s a good bet that will happen. The question is, can the Buckeyes win out?
As far as Ohio State goes, committee chairman Jeff Long (the Arkansas’ athletic director) was asked about the loss to Virginia Tech weighing down the Buckeyes.
“I wouldn’t call it an albatross, but it was not a good loss for them,” Long said. “But Ohio State has opportunities on their schedule to play up (including at Michigan State on Nov.8), as many of these teams do. We’re still early in this process.
“While I wouldn’t get that excited about Ohio State’s placement, we do think that based on the other teams they’ve played to this point in the schedule, this is where they deserve to be ranked.”
I have no problem with that, as long as the committee would give them a huge boost on Nov. 11 should they upset No. 8 Michigan State in East Lansing. If they win that game and still are ranked below the Top 10, then there is a problem in Buckeyeland.
But truly, the Buckeyes’ 14-point loss to the Hokies (now 4-4) can’t be as bad as a 62-27 home loss to UCLA, can it? Arizona State suffered that indignity and the Sun Devils are ranked No. 14.
Nevertheless, the AP football poll, dating to 1935, was never dissected like a dead frog like this thing. Even the old Bowl Alliance system and the BCS rankings, so criticized from 1998-2013, never caused such stir and commotion all those years.
But leading up to Tuesday, it was as if we were anticipating the playoff committee to announce the quarantine parameters for Ebola, the whereabouts of key ISIS leaders and Fidel Castro’s death all at once.
Heck, they met for three days at a swanky hotel in Dallas just to compile this list! And they will continue to do so each week for the next month. I could have come up with these rankings within 30 minutes in between the nightly news and an episode of Modern Family and had time left over to mow the yard.
These weekly meetings and rankings announcements for six weeks is a huge mistake. The committee shouldn’t have made any rankings or announcements until selecting the four teams on Dec. 7 – just as the NCAA Tournament committee operates each March.
In the meantime, we still have to put up with this weekly over-hyped, irrelevant production and its weekly fall-out.
But on to the real football issues …
HOKE CONTINUES TO HAVE HEAD STUCK IN SAND
“Spikegate,” as the Michigan newspapers have called it, is now Brady Hoke’s latest blunder.
His Wolverines, entering last Saturday’s game with a 3-4 record and five losses in its last six games to Michigan State, somehow thought it was a good idea to carry a spike onto the field and slam it into Spartan Stadium’s turf before kickoff Saturday.
The Spartans, and especially Coach Mark Dantonio, noticed.
Hence, the final touchdown with only 1:00 remaining, to punctuate a 35-11 Michigan State victory.
“I wanted to drive the stake,” Dantonio said.
“I knew something happened, but wasn’t completely sure what,” Hoke explained after the game.
Again, I want to root for this guy to keep his job, but he makes it extremely difficult. It’s as if he’s oblivious to what his team is thinking, feeling and doing, week after week.
The spike or spear was part of a motivational ploy and talk on Friday night before the game. A coach who is in touch and has command of his team would have uttered these words to his team: “Hey guys, remember, this thing stays in the locker room between us and us only. Let’s keep it in a secure place in the locker room until after the game!”
But then again, he was the only guy in 105,000-seat Michigan Stadium who couldn’t tell his quarterback had sustained a concussion earlier this season against Minnesota.
MUSCHAMP’S FINAL CHANCE
Will Muschamp must win Saturday’s game to take the first step toward saving his job. Remember, Florida is only 3-3 and he would just about have to win every game, or at least four of the remaining five to be employed as a Gator in 2015.
Even though the Gators have had an off week to prepare and heal, and larger upsets have happened, I don’t see Florida being competitive against the No. 11 Bulldogs (6-1).
And if that happens, don’t be surprised if Muschamp doesn’t get the axe on Sunday – just so Athletic Director Jeremy Foley can start making calls toward landing his next big-time coach.
CHECK OUT THESE ODDS
According to Vegasinsider.com, which lists current odds on future feature matchups, the Buckeyes today are a 3.5-point underdog at Michigan State Nov. 8 and a 19-point favorite over Michigan on Nov. 29. For the uninitiated, those numbers change daily right up to kickoff. Other lines of note: Alabama is favored by 6.5 over Auburn (Nov. 29), while Notre Dame is a 2.5 underdog for both games at Arizona State and at USC. The website also projects FSU, Mississippi State, Alabama and Oregon to make the playoff. The Tide is still the betting favorite to win it all at 6-1; Michigan State is 8-1 and the Buckeyes are 9-1 – the same as Ole Miss and Auburn.
GAMES OF THE WEEK: Auburn 37, Ole Miss 30 – Once the toast of the nation, Rebels lost a defensive struggle to LSU, now will lose a shootout and get eliminated.
Georgia 31, Florida 13 – Bulldogs remain SEC East leader.
UPSETS OF THE WEEK: Louisville (+5.5) over Florida State (Thursday night) – That’s right. It’s the Seminoles’ last chance to lose and I think the Cards’ defense is good enough to get it done at home in a crazy atmosphere. Karma catches up to Jameis. West Virginia (+6.5) over TCU – I think the Mountaineers get it done again at home.
BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: Baylor 66, Kansas 10 – Those poor Jayhawks. When does hoops season start?
BEST BETS: Navy (+15) against Notre Dame; North Carolina (+17) at Miami; Georgia Tech (-3.5) over Virginia; Cincinnati (-4) at Tulane.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 29 October 2014 13:57)