Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Committee's Latest Rankings a Major Fail

Are you happy now?

For those who clamored for the death of the BCS and birth of a playoff system, Tuesday night's rankings could not have brought smiles to their faces. In short, the committee's rankings actually made the polls look good by comparison.

It's as if the 12 members of the selection committee are waging war on logic. Strength of schedule is important, only when it's not. Head-to-head matters, except when it doesn't.

And if you're not a member of the power-five conferences, you should just tune in on Dec. 7 when the committee reveals who will get that guaranteed access slot to a New Year's Six bowl. Your resume and body of work clearly does not measure up to the big boys no matter what you do.

So what can we take away from this week's rankings? You mean other than that the committee should be immediately disbanded in favor of an improved BCS formula? OK, let's try these five:

The eye-ball test trumps all
Alabama is ranked No. 1 for apparently the reason that it looks better "on offense, defense and special teams" than everyone else, according to chairman Jeff Long. The committee is untroubled that Alabama has beaten just one of its own Top 25 teams (Mississippi State) while No. 2 Oregon has beaten three (UCLA, Michigan State and Utah) and No. 3 Florida State two (Clemson and Louisville) while staying undefeated.

Maybe the problem are those lying eyes
Former No. 1 Mississippi State only dropped to No. 4 after losing to Alabama because Long said the Bulldogs lost by only five to the Tide and were never out of the game. Maybe that's the biggest problem with item No. 1—the committee members need to have their eyes examined. The Bulldogs were never in that game, all the way to the concession TD that made the final score deceptively close. This "good loss," however, was enough keep MSU in the playoff field despite that, like the Tide, it's beaten just one ranked team (Auburn).

Strength of schedule for me, not for thee
And whereas Baylor is ostensibly still punished for its terrible nonconference schedule, the same does not apply to MSU, which actually played four non-power-five opponents as compared to Baylor's three. The Bulldogs beat Southern Miss (3-8), UAB (5-5), South Alabama (6-4) and Tennessee-Martin (FCS, 4-5) and that's good enough to trump TCU, which actually beat three currently ranked teams and played two more power-five opponents than MSU did.

Ohio State looks to be DOA
The Buckeyes are No. 6 and probably as good as dead when it comes to the playoff, unless they get some kind of divine intervention. There's not enough good opponents left on their schedule that will provide them with a significant lift to jump teams like Mississippi State and TCU. And Baylor, one spot behind now, is poised to perhaps snatch the final playoff spot if it can defeat Kansas State on the final day of the regular season to claim the Big 12 title.

Group-of-five? What Group-of-five?
For a third week in a row, no team outside of the power-five conferences (and Notre Dame) was in the rankings. Of the 27 power-five teams with three or fewer losses, only Duke and Iowa are not ranked. The committee clearly takes strength of schedule seriously—except when it doesn't, see MSU—when it comes to Group-of-five teams. It's still very much anybody's guess which team among Marshall, Colorado State and Boise State is considered the best in the (possibly faulty) eyes of the committee.

Playoff Committee Rankings Comparison
RankTeamBR MockAP PollRecord vs. T25Losses
1Alabama221-1No. 8 Ole Miss
2Oregon133-1No. 15 Arizona
3Florida State312-0None
4Miss State541-1No. 1 Alabama
5TCU453-1No. 7 Baylor
6Ohio State772-0Virginia Tech
7Baylor662-0West Virginia
8Ole Miss881-12
11Michigan State11101-22
12Kansas State12121-22
13Arizona State14132-12
18Georgia Tech20171-02
NRColorado State24220-0Boise State


Carey Head said...

I think you are correct about the inconsistency of the CPF poll, but I think your tack of showing how Clemson and Louisville are ranked (for FSU's case) is off. Primarily because it's ridiculous that Clemson and Louisville are ranked.

The strength of the SEC West has been pretty well acknowledged this year. I believe it is still the case that no team in the West has lost to a team outside the SEC. While this seems less impressive for MSST, consider the teams they have beaten.

Clemson is ranked, but who have they beaten in the CFP top-25? Only Louisville, who has no wins against top-25 teams. Likewise with GT.

Compare that to Auburn, who has wins over Ole Miss and Kansas State. Or LSU, who has four losses to 3 ranked teams and Arkansas (who took Alabama and MSST to the wire), but wins over Wisconsin and Ole Miss.

So, yes there is major fail in the rankings, but it's less of an issue at the top of the order and more with who's in the bottom half.

Love your posts; keep 'em coming!

The Guru said...

Thanks for the note, Carey.

I totally agree with your point and in fact I'd dived into that part if I had room. The bottom of the rankings is a mess as I believe a bunch of those teams should not be ranked.

And if they are ranked, then FSU and Oregon should get more credit. But the entire point is that the committee seems to have a hard time coming up with any logical explanation except that Alabama looked good.

That is lame.