The Process: Philosophies, Creating Top 12

The CFP Process: The Process
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– It can’t be stressed enough about the philosophies, and this is what the College Football Playoff people are looking for. The debate isn’t about the teams as much as it is about the process. This is where the “eye test” – the most fallible part of the puzzle – doesn’t matter, and this is why you could probably do this entire thing without actually watching one second of college football all year. Sorry for the repetition, but this is everything throughout the entire day – conference title, vs. Power 5 conference title, vs. schedule, vs. talent, vs. dominance. 

– In the end, winning a Power 5 conference title becomes the most important key, and schedule is a close second. 

– The real committee might be different, but arguments over teams didn’t take conference lines. People were arguing more for ideas than for specific teams. 

– At this point, the Chairman, Jeff Long, came up with a great idea. He stopped the proceedings and had each and every committee member take 30 seconds to give what he or she believed was the most important in the process. 

– 17 different people. 17 different opinions. 

– This is where I threw out the Believe vs. Prove idea. More than anything else, I want to throw out the eye test, because history in bowls and national championship games proves that it fails – like Vince Young’s Texas beating a supposedly unbeatable USC, and Ohio State shocking Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. The eye test even failed to close out the 2008 season in 2009 Sugar Bowl when Utah whacked Alabama, and in the 2009 BCS championship when Florida shut down Sam Bradford and Oklahoma. 

– Kirk Bohls made a huge point about mainly caring about strength of schedule. It’s cold and harsh, but true. Boise State might be the best team in the country, but its overall schedule wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t Utah’s fault that Michigan stunk and that winning in Ann Arbor didn’t really matter in 2008, but that’s the deal. 

– Holly Rowe: “Just win.” All the stats and all the schedules are nice. Who won games? 

– Pat Forde makes a point I’ve been trying to drive home for years when it comes to rankings – don’t predict wins. Don’t rank Team A higher than Team B just because you think Team A will end up winning something later. If you think Team A is better than Team B, okay, but it has to be justified in some way. 

– Matt Hayes argued about non-conference schedules. Don’t hide behind the conference slate; test yourself. Make a statement. This ultimately doomed Texas Tech, playing Eastern Washington, Nevada, UMass and SMU, and later on down the process, it absolutely killed teams like Ball State and BYU. 

– Tony Barnhart was all about the diversity of thought. It all comes into play, and you have weight every team on all of its merits. 

– After going through everyone’s thoughts, we vote for the top three among the next tier – Florida, Oklahoma and Texas are already in. The next tier is – this time, in order – 4. USC, 5. Alabama, 6. Penn State, and Boise State, Texas Tech and Utah are out. That doesn’t mean USC is in the top four, but it puts it in the key position to allow for debate. This is when the Alabama and Penn State defenders, and USC detractors, can argue their point. 

– While it doesn’t seem to be a conscious thought, there are already two Big 12 teams in the top four. I don’t think the committee wants two SEC teams, too. 

– I’m 100% fully self-aware during this day and this entire session of one indisputable fact: this is as cool as it gets. I’ve had real jobs, and this is not one of them. To sit around in a beautiful hotel on a Thursday afternoon debating the 2008 college football season with some of the brightest minds in the business is absolutely ridiculous. At no time have I forgotten that as I’m doing this, somewhere, someone is digging a ditch. 

– An interesting thought has been thrown into the mix. Where does margin of victory factor in? It might be politically correct to assume that score doesn’t matter – because scoring an extra touchdown in the fourth quarter might hurt someone’s feelings – but in the real world, yeah, it has a role. The example here is Oklahoma-Texas-Texas Tech. Texas beat Oklahoma by ten early in the season, but it was a battle. Texas Tech beat Texas 39-33 on a last-second, all-timer of a play to Michael Crabtree, but two games later, Oklahoma absolutely obliterated Texas Tech 65-21. This year, TCU hanging 82 on Texas Tech doesn’t matter in theory, but it shows up when you’re looking at the overall stats like scoring offense and total offense. Yes, Michigan State beating Michigan 35-11 looks better than 28-11.

– Holly Rowe, easily the nicest person in any room, said I have “cute hair.” That’s not going to sway me over to her side of the Utah debate. 

– So after everyone had their say, and after a break, the top six is voted on, and this time, it’s in order. 

– 1. Florida, 2. Oklahoma, 3. Texas, 4. USC, 5. Alabama, 6. Penn State. Like the previous vote, not set in stone, but …

– Upon revote, this is it. This is going to be the top six so we can move on with our lives. 

– 1. Florida, 2. Oklahoma, 3. Texas, 4. USC

– The Win Your Conference lobbyists win out, to a point. Penn State now 5, Alabama 6. 

– Holy hell breaks loose. 

– It’s not like everyone hasn’t had a chance to give their opinions or have their say – except for the Pat Haden guys – but now, when it’s up there on the board, and the four playoff teams are Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and USC, all those who take issue throw out their Hail Marys. 

– Matt Hayes continues to fight for the conference champion idea and complains about Texas being in. Others chime in, including the mock chair of the whole thing, SI’s Andy Staples, but the anti-Texas crowd fails to take into account that 2008 was no ordinary year for tie-breakers. In this one particular case, the Win Conference Championship thing doesn’t quite work. 

– I’m Coke and turn into Pepsi – I argue vehemently against all I hold dear, since I’m the Grand Marshal of the Win Conference Championship parade. 2008 Texas blasted North champ Missouri 56-31, and if Texas Tech isn’t in the discussion at this point, if it’s Oklahoma vs. Texas, Texas won. Texas didn’t have a true home game in the three-team round-robin, with Texas Tech playing Texas in Lubbock, and Oklahoma playing Texas Tech in Norman. Texas and OU, of course, played in Dallas. 

– Again, sorry to be a broken record, but this really matters and it’s the biggest glitch – it has to keep being reiterated that Haden wouldn’t be a part of anything so far. To apply this to 2014, had Archie Manning hadn’t been injured this year, he wouldn’t be in the room for the first half of the day if Ole Miss was a part of the top four discussion. 

– It’s still not finished at this point in terms of the matchups, though. We can revote if we think the pecking order in the top four should be changed. 

– It’s on to Round 3 where the committee breaks down 7 to 12, which becomes a massive deal for the New Year’s Day bowl slots. Tony and I vote in this order: 7. Utah, 8. Texas Tech, 9. Boise State, 10. TCU, 11. Oklahoma State, 12. Cincinnati. 

– Boise State, Texas Tech, Utah, Cincinnati and Ohio State make the next tier, but there’s a deadlock between TCU and Oklahoma State for the other spot, which seems odd since TCU was deep in the discussion for the top six. There’s a mild debate, and then a revote. This time around, TCU is in easily. 

– Considering Oklahoma and Texas are in the top four, and Texas Tech beat Texas to go 11-1, it’s interesting that the Red Raiders aren’t being fought for at all. They weren’t even in the ballpark for a playoff spot. To bring this to 2014, if you have one loss now, don’t lose big in November, and if you’re Mississippi State or Florida State, losing late will probably be a bigger deal in terms of perception than the one defeat for the one-loss teams who got tagged early on.

– After the revote, the rankings are now 1. Florida, 2. Oklahoma, 3. Texas, 4. USC, 5 Penn State – by the way, Penn State wasn’t even close to overtaking USC – 6. Alabama, 7. Utah, 8. Texas Tech, 9. Ohio State, Boise State, Cincinnati and TCU are holdovers for another round of voting for the pecking order within the top 12.