Wednesday, November 03, 2021

The College Football Playoff rankings are a joke

Despite being ranked #2 in both the AP and Coaches' polls, the undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats were ranked #6 in the inaugural College Football Playoff rankings that were released last night. If the season were to end today, the Bearcats would be excluded from the playoff. 

Which, of course, is exactly how it's supposed to work. The College Football Playoff and its selection committee are part and parcel of the elitist and exclusionary "Power Five" cartel that refuses to make room at the table for the so-called "Group of Five" schools they refuse to see as equals.

ESPN's Andrea Andelson calls out the CFP rankings for the sham that they are:

The CFP selection committee reminded us all once again that the Group of 5 need not apply to the playoff, that it is judged by a different set of rules, that it might as well be playing for crumpets and not national championships.

Despite the best nonconference record of any undefeated Group of 5 team ever presented to the committee, Cincinnati landed at No. 6 in the first rankings reveal Tuesday -- a complete and utter joke that insults every school that resides outside the major conferences.

The selection committee might pat itself on the back for putting Cincinnati higher than any Group of 5 team in playoff history. But the hypocrisy would be laughable if it was not so pathetic. When UCF went undefeated in 2017 and 2018 and did not even come close to the top four, people like CFP executive director Bill Hancock told us all that if the Knights' nonconference schedule was just a little bit better, who knows what might have happened?

Cincinnati buffed up its nonconference schedule by playing two Power Five schools this season: Indiana and Notre Dame. The Bearcats beat them both - on the road. But that's clearly not good enough for the CFP selection committee, who ranked Cinci lower than one-loss Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State teams. 

The sad truth is this: Every year, the goalposts keep moving. When the playoff was created, we were fed the line that this would help Group of 5 teams finally have a chance after the BCS shut out every undefeated Group of 5 program from the top two. So go undefeated and the top four will await!

But then finishing undefeated was not enough. Then they were told they should build strong nonconference schedules, and also go undefeated. But also make sure their conference is strong enough to help. But maybe they also need to blow out every opponent now. Cincinnati struggled against Navy and Tulane before pulling away to win the past two weeks. Guess that is not allowed, either.

Cincinnati still has a chance to notch some good conference wins: they play SMU in a few weeks and, if (big if) the Cougars win out, will face Houston in the AAC championship. But those games won't matter to the CFP selection committee: while both of those one-loss teams are ranked by the AP sportswriters and the coaches in their polls, the Cougars and Ponies are rather conveniently absent from the initial CFP rankings. 

It's pretty obvious what's going on here. The CFP selection committee has its marching orders - exclude the Group of Five from the playoff at all costs - and they are following them.

But wait! Won't Group of Five schools have more access to the CFP if it expands? Well, right now, playoff expansion is a pretty big "if." It may not happen at all. 

But wait! Won't this issue become moot when Cincinnati (and Houston, for that matter) join the Big 12 in a few years? Maybe - assuming the new-look Big 12 remains a "Power 5" conference - but that still doesn't address the injustice the Bearcats are facing this season, nor does it address injustices other worthy Group of Five schools - think Boise State, Coastal Carolina, etc. - may face in the future.

The system is rigged; it is rotten. It is bad for college football and it calls for legal or governmental intervention before it completely destroys the sport.

Ryan thinks the inaugural CFP rankings "might be the worst they’ve put out.

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