And I’ll be writing this exact same thing in 2041, too.
I really should take and republish the exact same thing I wrote in various articles, fueling email and message board battles with Tulane fans back in 1998.
And with Marshall fans in 1999.
And with BYU fans in 2001 – I owe former Hawaii QB Nick Roloivich at least three beers for the 72-45 win over the Cougars that ended a two-month all-in-good-fun brawl – and with Hawaii fans in 2007, and with UCF and Boise State fans over the years, and with TCU fans back in the Mountain West days of the late 2000s, and with Houston fans in 2011 and 2015 – however, they did have a theoretical point that I was on board with in 2016, when the team beat Baker Mayfield’s Oklahoma and later took down Lamar Jackson’s Louisville – and with fans of EVERY Group of Five program whose team gets off to a hot start.
Really, really good Group of Five programs in the right season can absolutely hang with and/or beat just about anyone on any day. However, Power Five programs have to win those games, and then they play more games against Power Five programs.
It always amazes me when people don’t like to accept the talent disparity up and down the Power Five conferences compared to the Group of Five.
Recruiting rankings are hardly the be-all-end-all, but check through the last 20+ years on any of the recruiting sites and find the Group of Five programs that get anywhere close to the same prospect talents – ever.
Go through the history of the NFL Draft, especially recently, and roughly 40% of the whole thing is made up of SEC and Big Ten players. Throw in an Oklahoma here, a USC there, and a Clemson and Florida State all over the place, and there it is. There’s your annual haul of the best of the best players.
Of course that doesn’t mean a Cincinnati or BYU this season couldn’t finish well in any of the Power Five conferences. On the contrary, I’ll put up either of those two against anyone in the Big 12 this season, and give them a more-than-fighting shot in the Pac-12. But the harsh reality is that they simply don’t get that chance, and in a College Football Playoff world based on what a panel of judges thinks, along with the data they have at their disposal, it’s not going to work.
If you want to argue that there needs to be a way for a BYU or Cincinnati to play its way into an expanded CFP, I’m your guy. I’ll take up that fight all day long. But at the moment, it’s not fair.
It’s not fair to Texas A&M, who has a ten-game schedule against all SEC teams full of – duh – SEC talent.
Could BYU or Cincinnati beat Florida? Yeah, maybe. That’s great … but did you beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa the week before? Do you have to deal with Auburn on the road, or go to South Carolina and Tennessee in back-to-back weeks?
It’s not fair to Indiana, who has an eight-game schedule against all Big Ten teams full of – duh – Big Ten talent.
Could BYU or Cincinnati beat Penn State and Michigan? Yeah, maybe. That’s great … but do you have to deal with a road trip to Michigan State next, and then go to Ohio State, and later on down the road go to Wisconsin?
EVERY YEAR this has to keep being stressed, and EVERY YEAR the college football media types who should know better fall for the teams that look great against the mediocre – it’s not about one big game. It’s about the body-blow-accumulation grind of week after week after week of playing against teams with enough talent and the resources to get you on the right day.
It’s not about avoiding one big bomb; it’s about sidestepping a whole slew of landmines.
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