We have been firm about this for years now: No team that doesn’t win its conference should ever be named the national champion—or in our modern era, be invited to compete for the championship when there’s only two or four teams involved. That being said, this year’s College Football Playoff got half the field right—and half the field wrong.

Georgia won the SEC, and Michigan won the B1G … both with perfect 13-0 records. Of course they belong in the fray. But Ohio State did not even win its division in the B1G, and TCU did not win the Big XII. They do not belong, and due to money and optics, the other two spots, evidently, could not be filled by the teams that should be there.

Which teams are those? Here is the list of teams that should have been picked before TCU and Ohio State:

  • Kansas State, Big XII (10-3): The Wildcats beats the Horned Frogs, 31-28, in overtime to win the conference title.
  • Utah, Pac-12 (10-3): The Utes pounded previous No. 4-ranked USC, 47-24, in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
  • Clemson, ACC (11-2): The Tigers beatdown then-No. 24 North Carolina, 39-10, in the ACC title tilt.

To be fair, it seems that TCU was screwed by the replay officials in overtime of its Big XII matchup against Kansas State, but still … the Wildcats deserve the CFP spot more, as they’re actually ranked ahead of the Horned Frogs in the sabermetric SRS. We’re not sure how the money and optics play out between K-State and TCU, but we’re guessing it would be a draw, really. The optics look bad when you pick a team that just lost its conference title game.

Sabermetrically, KSU and Utah should be in the CFP, with Clemson looking in from the outside. Yes, Ohio State is No. 3 in the SRS, behind Georgia and Michigan, but circumstances are what they are, and the Buckeyes lost at home to the Wolverines to lose their chance at the B1G title. It is what it is. We know KSU is higher than TCU by a sliver in the SRS, so this comes down to TCU or Utah—and the Horned Frogs have the advantage on record and the SRS, but without a conference title.

Maybe it’s splitting hairs with TCU and Utah, then, but in our book, the Utes are one of the best-coached teams in the country, and the BCS was afraid of them for years (2004, 2008). Nothing has changed, really, and Utah deserves to be in the CFP instead of TCU. Oh well … same old shit, different day. Hopefully, this will all be better when the CFP expands to 12 teams.