By: Austin Streitmatter
When I started this website I wanted to do it for two reasons. I wanted to share my thoughts about niche sports. Today is only one of those: Thoughts on the failure that is everything that has happened in College Football this year.
Also here’s a quick disclaimer for you: I am a massive Indiana Hoosier fan. Yeah, I know, this guy’s opinion is biased and you’re probably somewhat right. But at the same time, that also means I’ve done some research and know my stuff about IU football this year so if I use them as an example it’s because I both know a lot about them this year and they also are a solid example of most of the failures in college football. Okay, I’ve said my part, it’s showtime.
Let’s just start with picking apart the College Football Playoff (CFP) Selection committee. The CFP website states that “the playoff was created to preserve the excitement and significance of college football’s unique regular season where every game counts.” If there’s anything that this year has shown me it is that every game does not count. It doesn’t. Iowa State, your #10 team in the country, is currently 3rd in the Sun Belt, but lucky for them they don’t play in the Sun Belt, they play in the Big 12 and they also happened to make the Big 12 championship. The Big 12 doesn’t have divisions (don’t worry, we’ll visit this later) and so even though ISU lost to Oklahoma in the regular season, they still made the Big 12 Championship. Last week, Iowa State was ranked #6 with 2 losses, one of four 2-loss teams in the top 10. TWO LOSSES. The teams ranked 11-14? Also 2 losses, COMBINED. Every game does not count. The final rankings had ISU still in the top 10 at #10, one spot ahead of IU. Iowa State lost their first game of the year to Louisiana, 17-31… and then lost 2 more games. Every game does not count.
Another thing continuing on the “every game does not count” idea is the fact that LITERALLY LOSING is better than not playing a game. Yes, you read that right. UF ranked #6 loses by 3 to an unranked 3-5 LSU team: They drop one spot. Undefeated Cincinnati doesn’t play anyone and 2 loss Georgia beats 4-4 Missouri: CINCINNATI DROPS ONE SPOT. Pardon me? THOSE DON’T MAKE SENSE. I understand moving Georgia up, but 1 they shouldn’t even have been ranked that high anyways and 2 if Florida loses and drops 1 spot still above Cincy then you have a REAL ISSUE. Cincy shouldn’t play anyone because they won’t move up with a win anyways and can only tumble with a loss but at the same time they need to play people because if they don’t they’ll drop spots. Who decided that garbage? Every game does not count.
The Committee also says that “every FBS team has equal access to the playoff based on its performance.” That is a big fat lie. If you don’t play in the SEC, or haven’t won your conference for the past 3-4 years, you don’t have equal access to the playoff. That’s just how it is. Now, I understand that the playoff is designed to pick the best 4 teams so those probably are the teams that I said above, but the rankings are SIGNIFICANT for every other team. At-Large bids in bowl games are decided based on them, bowl tie-ins are based on them, all of the postseason is based on them. The CFP does not care. You better hope you play your tough games early and then roll back beating the bottom feeders in your conference, or else you are in trouble. You have a team like Coastal Carolina that is an example of who the CFP is failing. This year Coastal played everyone they could in their conference and then some with a late reschedule to play BYU. They beat that same Louisiana team that blew out ISU, and went undefeated and where do they find themselves in the final rankings? #12, 2 spots behind ISU… They draw unranked Liberty in their bowl game, a matchup that America would lose their minds on if CC was an SEC team. Iowa State and their 3 losses draws Oregon in their New Year’s 6 FIesta Bowl matchup. To quote my favorite gif of all time, WHAT ARE WE DOING? WHAT ARE WE DOING?
If you do not have football history or have some preseason hype, you better not lose and even then, you need some help to even crack the top 10. So on that topic, let’s talk about the thing that cannot be eliminated but OH BOY was it prevalent this year. Our favorite friend: Bias. There are 4 SEC teams in the top 10. Alabama, is indisputably a top 4 team in the nation. But let’s talk about Texas A&M, Florida and Georgia. A&M has 2 wins against teams with winning records and a blowout loss to Alabama. Florida has 2 wins against teams with winning records but their losses are interesting. They have a 3 point loss to A&M, a 3 point loss to LSU and an 8 point conference championship loss to Alabama. Then of course we have Georgia, Georgia has 2 wins against teams with winning records and 2 losses, both blowouts to UF and Bama. All of these teams are in the top 10. At what point do we reach the perspective that maybe the committee is over ranking these teams. This year of course is weird with COVID messing up schedules, but are you really going to tell me that going into championship weekend, 7-2 Florida with an upset loss to LSU deserved to be not only ranked above Cincinnati but also in the top 10? If Cincinnati lost any game by any number of points, I guarantee you they would fall out of the top 10, and probably the top 15. How are we failing all these kids so badly to do this to them. To not even give them a chance.
On the topic of bias, this section is dedicated to my good friend Jackson Drake. Let’s talk about the absolute blasphemy of the College Football Committees (not the media or coaches) towards the Indiana Hoosiers. Firstly with the CFP. IU’s rankings have been 12, 12, 11, 11. IU’s AP poll ranking during those same weeks? 10, 8, 7, 7. What’s up with that? Is it IU’s lack of quality wins (they haven’t actually beaten anyone with a winning record, but have 3 wins over teams ranked at the time). If it’s the lack of “quality” wins then HOW IS OHIO STATE 3 with the same schedule except they beat IU… only by 7 points… at home…. CFP Committee you can’t have both. Either IU needs to be higher up or OSU needs to be lower but the discrepancy between the 2 shouldn’t be there. I just also want to drop in on the idea of a “close loss”. UF loses 2 games in a row, to unranked LSU by 3 and Alabama by 6 in the SEC championship. They dropped a single spot. 1 single spot. IU gave OSU their toughest challenge of the year and proved they were by far the second best team in the Big 10 and not once cracked the top 10 of the College Football Playoff Rankings. What on earth is the deal with that? Do close losses only mean something when it’s certain teams. I’m not asking for favoritism or pity CFP Committee, I’m just asking you to be consistent.
Secondly, the Big Ten has failed Indiana. By keeping them out of the Big Ten title that based on the rules agreed to at the start of the year Ohio State was disqualified from, and also not allowing any out-of-conference games in addition to the schedule shift, IU had no way to compete. IU should’ve had an opportunity to play Northwestern with a chance to call themselves Big Ten Champions but the Big Ten decided to nix a rule that they made in the start of the season. Granted the rule was pretty unnecessary and arbitrary, but if you honestly think that the Big Ten would do that if IU was disqualified instead of Ohio State, you’re out of your mind. Yes, I know that OSU could have lost and still made the Big Ten title but by the letter of the original law they were ineligible. The Big Ten sacrificed IU out of an NY6 Bowl for their precious Buckeyes to make the Playoff. The Big Ten season shouldn’t have even been called a season. There’s 2 reasons that the Big 10 even decided to play their season. Firstly, they didn’t want to carry the label of “soft” for cancelling their season, so they play a strictly Big 10 schedule where they can control all the rules. Secondly, stemming from the control of all the rules, they played the season for the SOLE purpose of getting OSU to the playoff. Not to give anyone else a chance to make program history, not to give anyone else a chance to have another solid season; they had one goal and were willing to steamroll their way to it.
This college football season further proved what true football fans know: the College Football landscape is severely broken and there isn’t really a good fix for it.