Cavalcade of Whimsy: College Football Playoff Rankings Edition

Cavalcade of Whimsy: College Football Playoff Rankings Edition

College Football Cavalcade

Cavalcade of Whimsy: College Football Playoff Rankings Edition


It’s the College Football Playoff rankings edition – and the big things to take away from Week 9 – in the Cavalcade of Whimsy.

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Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

Mike Gundy lumped it in with his thoughts on the Twitter world. To be fair, he’s not all that wrong about either one.

None of this matters until the end. Just like the NBA season.

I’m weird. I love the College Football Playoff rankings too much. I love the process, the intrigue, and the discussion surrounding it.

But I also like getting to games way too early to watch warm-ups, which is exactly what this is.

We’re all about to get goofy over batting practice.

What’s coming out of Grapevine isn’t going to be telling. It’s not going to provide any real insight, and it’s not going to be anything predictive – and that’s the point.

Up until the very end, the College Football Playoff rankings are a bunch of self-contained practice rounds that instantly get memory dumped by the committee once they submit them to the starving public.

And then they do it all over again next week, all so that they can get into a groove by the time this all matters for real on the first Saturday night in December.

Did you win your conference championship? Sorry … did you win your Power Five conference championship?

Did you win your Power Five conference championship with one loss or go unbeaten? That’s it. That’s the ball game. If your team isn’t currently an unbeaten or one-loss Power Fiver, then you need not busy yourself with what’s about to come over the next several Tuesday nights.

But you’ll watch anyway, because these guys are creating the ultimate college football opinion piece.

Welcome back to this world. A few reminders about how all this works – a whole lot of people are saying/thinking a whole lot of wrong things out there – starting with a boring procedural thing.

It’s a meticulous process. Those who vote in the AP and Coaches polls fill out their top 25, submit it, all the votes are tabulated. With the CFP, the committee members do that in tiers – it’s a long story, and if you really want to get into it, go here – and then argue over each spot in the rankings until they come up with a consensus.

You might not agree with a ranking or a position, but at the very least, know that the CFP people discussed the merits of every team in every slot, putting each there for a reason. Keep that in mind the rest of the way here, because …

No, the committee doesn’t “think” a certain way or have an agenda. You need to get rid of the notion that, for example, Notre Dame has more of a shot because the committee wants the prestige and the attention. That’s not really how this works.

The committee might think Notre Dame is one of the best teams, and it might vote that way early on before the conference championships, but nowhere in the process will the idea of Notre Dame being Notre Dame factor in. It’s all about eye-test and merit.

To go a little inside baseball here, the College Football Playoff is a different animal. It doesn’t care about ratings or TV revenue as much as you might think – otherwise, we’d have a 16-team playoff already. This group really and truly is worried about making sure the four best teams are in to create the best possible mini-tournament.

No, the AP and Coaches polls have nothing to do with the College Football Playoff. For the umpteenth time, those other polls are just polite exercises to pass the time. They were part of the BCS, they’re not in the CFP. Not only do they not matter in the new world, using them in the debates in that room is a no-no.

It really, really, really doesn’t matter if you’re No. 1 or No. 4 … for now. You can’t and shouldn’t care if your one-loss or unbeaten Power Five team is first, or fifth, or tenth, because …

These first playoff rankings really, really don’t matter. Neither does the second version or the fourth, or any of them until the final one that gets unveiled in December.

It’s a great trivia question. What was the first ever College Football Playoff No. 1 ranked team? Dak Prescott’s Mississippi State squad in 2014. That year, out of the initial rankings, Florida State was the only team in the top four that ended up getting in.

Famously, eventual national champion Ohio State was 16th in the first 2014 rankings. In 2015, Oklahoma ended up getting in, and it started out 15th. However, in 2016 the eventual top four all started out in the top 16, and in 2017, all the final four teams started out in the top five.

To hammer this point home even further, remember, in the next-to-last College Football Playoff rankings last year, Clemson (1) and Oklahoma (3) were the only teams ranked in the top four. Alabama was fifth, and Georgia sixth.

Schedules, schedules, schedules, schedules, schedules. The CFP committee loves giant wins. So if you’re wondering why Team A is ranked over Team B vs. Team K, look at the schedule and see if there are any big wins over nasty teams, especially on the road, which is why …

UCF people, it’s not up to me, but in the end, you’re not getting in. It’s because of your schedule. In the four years of the CFP, the highest ranked Group of Five teams in the first rankings were East Carolina at 23 in 2014, Memphis at 13 in 2015, Western Michigan at 23 in 2016, and UCF at 18 in 2017. And why? Schedules, schedules, schedules …

I’m going to put it on a T-shirt. 13-for-13 in the four College Football Playoffs so far. Power Five conference champ … no more than one loss … at least 12 wins … AGAIN … Power Five confe…

At least until …

NEXT: What the College Football Playoff format should be … 


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