Did the Playoff Committee get it right?

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2017

College football fans got a hearty serving of drama Sunday when the College Football Playoff selection committee announced the four teams that are in.

Our Top 3 make perfect sense. Clemson (12-1) as the ACC Champion, Oklahoma (12-1) as the Big 12 Champion and Georgia (12-1) as the SEC Champion.

Then there is No. 4. Alabama (11-1).

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Whoa, nelly. There’s lots to digest here.

Alabama didn’t play in the SEC Championship game because Auburn beat them a few weeks ago on The Plains. Despite a worse overall record, the Tigers got the SEC West nod because they owned the tiebreaker. So off they went to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, leaving the Crimson Tide waiting at home.

Georgia won the game and Auburn fell to 10-3, out of the realm of possibility for a playoff spot.

Meanwhile, way up north in Indianapolis, Ohio State made its move against the undefeated Wisconsin Badgers. It was a close win for the Buckeyes, but the 11-2 Big 10 champions made their case for inclusion in the playoffs.

Realistically, the fourth spot came down between Ohio State and Alabama. If the goal of the committee is to get the four best teams in this thing, then picking Bama is a no-brainer.

The Buckeyes lost to Oklahoma early in the season, a blip on the record that would be excused if it were their only hiccup. Inexplicably, Ohio State also lost to Iowa. Bad. Like, 55-24 bad.

Alabama lost to Auburn right as the Tigers were peaking. The hottest team in college football buzz sawed through Georgia and embarrassed the Crimson Tide like a kid gets embarrassed when he’s pantsed in front of the entire P.E. class. Auburn ran out of steam, though, and Georgia got its revenge for the SEC Championship.

The point is: Bama’s loss is somewhat understandable, if not a little out of character. Ohio State’s loss(es) are not. To me, that washes away any arguments you could make for Ohio State having a better Strength of Schedule than Alabama. The committee watched closely everything they needed to in order to make their decision. Simply put, they think Alabama is a better team.

That is not to say, though, that the precedent the committee is setting by putting a non-conference champion in that fourth spot for the second straight year isn’t a slippery one. Last year, Ohio State took that spot and was blown apart by Clemson 31-0. If Alabama falls to a similar fate (against Clemson, wouldn’t you know), then there will be significant pressure on the committee to stop picking non-conference champions in the future.

I think they got it right this year.