Who Knows What They Are Thinking: The College Football Rankings
Those of you that know anything about sports know that beginning last year we moved to a four team playoff system in college football and have turned to a committee full of college athletic directors and a few misfits like Condoleezza Rice and Air Force Lt. Gen Mike Gould to decide who should play in this playoff. I don't know about you but I don't think any athletic director that has a team in the top 25 should be having any sort of say in the rankings. I know that these AD's cannot vote for their team or conference but still it just seems kind of strange that one of the committee members is Dan Radakovich who just happens to be the A.D. for Clemson, the #1 Tteam in the nation. Now, I am in no way saying that Clemson shouldn't be #1 right now as I actually think that they deserve this spot but as we get closer to the final selection I think the temptation for bias grows stronger. Then on the other hand we have Condoleezza Rice and Air Force General Mike Gould who I am sure are great in their respective jobs and fields but what do they have anything to do with selecting the best team in college football. Also, how did we get so many people with ties to Stanford on this committee? Condoleezza Rice is a professor at Stanford and a past University Provost, Tyrone Willingham is a past Stanford Football coach and Oliver Luck is the father of one of Stanford's greatest football players ever, quarterback Andrew Luck. That's three od the twelve committee members.
Now let's look at the rankings that the committee has put out thus far in 2015. The College Football Playoff rankings don't get produced until the last one third of the season and are based on a number of factors, including win-loss record, strength of schedule and the eye test. From the first two rankings unveiled, there must be other factors because I am confused on how some of these teams get ranked where they are.
CFP Week 1 Rankings
First, let's look at Week 1 rankings where the top four teams were Clemson, LSU, OHio State and Alabama respectively. The only question I had with these top four was how did Alabama get in there? Now, I know college football so I know how "Roll Tide" wheezle'd their way into 4th. Its because they are consistently over ranked in all ranking polls and recruiting. This is known as the "Saben Factor." Anything that Nick Saben gets his dirty hands on somehow gets rated higher than it should. Alabama had already lost against a very mediocre Mississippi team at home by two touchdowns. At the point when the rankings came out they should not have been in the top four. You should have to play your way into the top four, not be given a lottery slot just because you have the highest recruiting class or you are historically good. In fact, I believe strongly with the talent that Alabama has on their team every year, they are under performing if they don't make it to the title game each and every year.
Ok, that's enough "Bama Bashing", let's look at some other questionable rankings from the first poll. The Florida Gators started out ranked #10 in the polls with one loss which came to then undefeated LSU. Other than LSU, Florida really hadn't played anyone very good and they only beat the teams they played by slim slim margins. UCLA was another team that somehow was in the rankings despite losing in back to back weekends to Arizona State and Stanford. The Stanford game was a blowout loss as well. UCLA should have not been in the first rankings. I am sure all of you are going to think this is my bias but I also thought Michigan State should have at least been in the top 5 because they were undefeated and they scheduled a top 10 team in their non-conference. Oregon turned out to not be great this year but going into the year they were ranked high and have been good for years. Teams like Baylor schedule cupcakes in the non-conference schedule and don't even have a conference championship and these teams should be rewarded for this as well as for having a blemished record. Lastly, a few more questions were Northwestern in the top 25 with two losses where they were pummeled by Michigan and Iowa respectively. The remainder of the first week rankings I don't have major problems with but just wait until week two rankings come out.
CFP Week 2 Rankings
Ok, now that week 2 rankings for the CFP have come out there are some major questions to ask about what is going on. In week 2, the top four teams were Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame respectively. These four teams seem reasonable but the order could be different. I didn't think Alabama should have been in the top 4 in the first rankings and although they beat the previous #2 team LSU, I thought they should have just moved to #3 in this poll and Ohio State should be #2. No other team switched spots with their opponent for which they beat and therefore Alabama shouldn't necessarily either. The rest of the top 4 I don't have a problem with although Notre Dame is always a shaky one to put near the top of any rankings. After the top 4, I don't know if the committee played roulette for slots or went on a lunch break. How Iowa jumped from #9 in week one to #5 in week two is beyond me. How does Iowa leap frog Baylor despite both being undefeated and neither beating a hard opponent? How does Oklahoma State become the first undefeated Big 12 team to actually beat a difficult opponent not jump over Baylor who hasn't played anyone good yet? How did Florida State lose their second game in a row yet not move down at all from last week's rankings? How is an undefeated University of Houston team still at #24 despite all of the changes and teams losing higher in the rankings? These are just some of the questions I have from the week 2 rankings put out today. One decision that I thought was very accurate by the committee was the decision to drop Florida from #10 to #11 for their very ugly and narrow escape of a very mediocre Vanderbilt team. The score was 9-7 and in order to be in the top 10 in the rankings you should be able to score more than 9 points on a team like Vanderbilt. This was one statement that the committee made that I definitely agree with.
If I was on the committee and ranking the top 25, here is how I would rank them.
I am sure there are many that will disagree with my rankings as well but that is why college football rankings are a never ending debate. There are still many games to play and some of this will play itself out but I am sure that there will still be questions even when we get to the final playoff selection. Some of these questions may be answered if someone can at least answer the question of how major athletic directors get selected on the committee as well as how completely unrelated people from our military and government also got selected for this committee. If we know the answer to these questions, we may understand more clearly how and why these people make the rankings that they make.
Until next time, enjoy the college football games coming up this weekend!
Feel free to share your thoughts and displeasure of my rankings with me on Twitter. Direct them to @aaronscheidies