In the third season of analyzing the College Football Playoff on MNC Wednesday, we see a pattern developing: Just like the early years of the BCS, the CFP has somehow managed to get it right despite the obvious flaws in the system. Is it too much to ask of college football to provide a legitimate, transparent process to determine a champion? Evidently so.
Here we go again, and we’re thankful this is not our monkey—and not our circus.
The 2016 MNC: Process flaws still end up producing the proper result, but …
Here is the Associated Press Top 10, including final record with key bowl results:
1. Clemson (14-1): Won CFP Bowl, 35-31
2. Alabama (14-1): Lost CFP Bowl, 31-35
3. USC (10-3): Won Rose Bowl, 52-49
4. Washington (12-2): Lost Peach Bowl, 24-7
5. Oklahoma (11-2): Won Sugar Bowl, 35-19
6. Ohio State (11-2): Lost Fiesta Bowl, 0-31
7. Penn State (11-3): Lost Rose Bowl, 49-52
8. Florida State (10-3): Won Orange Bowl, 33-32
9. Wisconsin (11-3): Won Cotton Bowl, 24-16
10. Michigan (10-3): Lost Orange Bowl, 32-33
The Tigers won the playoff, so they’re in the fray as champions of the ACC. The Trojans did not win the Pac-12; that honor went to the Huskies, who lost in the first round of the playoff to the Crimson Tide. The Sooners won the Big XII, but they were not chosen for the CFP. Instead, the committee took Ohio State and its dollars over Oklahoma and Penn State, the actual winners of the B1G. Go figure.
The Seminoles did not win the ACC, and the Badgers did not win the B1G. Any other teams not listed above? Western Michigan went 13-0 before losing to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl, so that was a close one. South Florida posted an 11-2 record with a bowl win, but the Bulls did not win the American Conference. That’s really about it.
Again, we have a Power 5 conference champion left out of the CFP that is the only contender for the faux throne. So, that is that, however, and it leaves us with just 2 teams to scrutinize more closely this time out. These are the respective SOS ratings for our surviving teams, after going through the process above:
- Clemson: 14 Division I-A opponents, 6.54 SOS rating, 4th of 128
- Oklahoma: 13 Division I-A opponents, 3.59 SOS rating, 30th
The Tigers will keep their MNC here, but the question has to be asked: Why would the CFP pick a team like Ohio State, that didn’t even win its division in the B1G, while overlooking conference champions from Oklahoma and Penn State? The Buckeyes did have a nice SOS, but we would never endorse picking a conference also-ran for a four-team playoff when there are two conference champions out there instead. That makes no sense, and Clemson’s 31-0 shutout of Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl was ugly.
Even if the Nittany Lions lost the Rose Bowl, they deserved a shot in the CFP, too, and having beaten the Buckeyes, perhaps Penn State would have done more against Clemson, which could have impacted the way the Tigers were able to play in the “title” game. Likewise, the Sooners beat Auburn in the Sugar Bowl by about the same margin that Alabama beat the Tigers in the Iron Bowl. That doesn’t mean everything, but it means something. The CFP mucked it up, again, just like the BCS almost always did.
We don’t fault Clemson here; we fault the process, which is obviously still a joke today. But again, the “process” worked, somewhat, even if the ends never justify the means in this sport. Either way, this is the Tigers’ first MNC from us, since we stripped them of their 1981 title for cheating.
Congratulations to the 2016 Clemson Tigers, the mythical national champion!