What is Wrong with the College Football Playoff Rankings: The Final Edition of the BGPR 2016

One thing we have all learned during this college football season — whether we do our own sets of rankings or tune in weekly to see what the College Football Playoff Committee comes up with — is that the system currently in place is not good enough. As fans, we want (for me at least) to have (1) a full understanding of the criteria the committeencaa-football-cfp-national-championship-media-day-1-590x900 looks at as they place the top 4 teams in the playoff and (2) it to be settled on the field. What do conference championships mean? Is the final goal to have the 4 best teams or the 4 most deserving? Or the 4 conference champions from the toughest conferences?

What I’d propose is not anything new — it’s the popular solution. It’s also the most sensible. An 8-team playoff with automatic bids to the champions of the five power conferences — no selection committee is even necessary for this part. The remaining 3 bids go to at-large teams. Yes, I know — what about the 9th team in the rankings? They’ll have an argument to get in and we’ll be wanting to expand to 12 or 16 in a few years. I don’t agree, though. The 9th ranked team in any year rarely (if ever) has any hopes of being considered the best team in the nation. In fact, on any give year, there are only 3 or 4 teams who have a legitimate shot at winning the national championship — 5 or 6 in some years, at best. My point — the first team left out of the 8-team playoff doesn’t really have much in the way of an argument to get into the field.

What the NCAA has done in an effort to fill their pockets and bring unprecedented cashflow to the university presidents is water down conferences and render conference championship games meaningless. It’s funny, really. Ironic. Check it out.

  1. The NCAA has to find a way to condense teams into as small a number of conferences in order to get a sensible 4-team playoff (even though their are five conferences in the Power 5).
  2. So each conference gets jam-packed with 12, 14, 16 teams — many of whom are garbage and serve no real competitive purpose in the conference. Heck, they really serve no purpose,competitively-speaking, in FBS football period.
  3. The NCAA needs conference championship games in these mega-conferences because sponsors, like Chik-Fil-A and Dr. Pepper, are salivating over spending millions of dollars to be associated with games like the Big Ten Championship and SEC Championship. Not to mention, neutral sites — like Atlanta, Orlando, Santa Clara, and Indianapolis are shelling out huge dough to host these title games. The NCAA makes millions of dollars hand over fist just this weekend alone.
  4. But because the conferences are overflowing, it’s impossible for teams to all have equal and identical conference opponents. And this makes it very difficult to judge teams — do you look at records? Or do you use the ol’ eye test? For example Penn State wins their division because they avoided Wisconsin in the regular season — unlike Ohio St. and Michigan — even though most in the country believe both OSU and U-M to be the two best teams in the entire conference.
  5. Because of these unbalanced schedules in conference play, you end up with teams that may not necessarily pass that aforementioned eye test but their record qualifies them to be in their conference’s championship game. Take Iowa last year, for instance.
  6. Then take it to the ultimate point that I’m trying to make: what happens when one of these “undeserving” teams  actually wins the conference title game? Like this year — what if Florida had beaten Alabama? Or Virginia Tech had upset Clemson? All year long, we’ve heard about how the Big Ten is one of the top 2 conferences in the country, yet the conference champion isn’t going to get a bid into the playoff? How can the NCAA not reward their conference champions when they are the ones who put these championship games in place??? (Oh that’s right. It’s not to find out who the best team in the conference is — we all pretty much know that already. It’s to cash in.)

To tie this all together, in doing this, the NCAA has made the criteria for qualifying for the playoff so convoluted that no one knows the parameters — and, quite frankly, we don’t know if any parameters even exist.

All that said, here’s the final BGPR — based on what I view as the most important metrics:

1. Alabama — the Tide is the best team in the land and has been since week one when they annihilated USC; they started out dominant and really never lost a step in 13 games.

2. Clemson — the ACC Champs get the boost up to the #2 spot; not a huge deal because we’ll just let them battle it out with OSU in the semi-final.

3. Ohio State — no Big Ten title, but in my mind the Bucks are one of the nation’s best teams.

4. Washington — the PAC-12 Champs are a well-deserving selection and earned this spot thanks to a year of very consistent play.



NFL Postseason Picture: 8 NFC Teams and Their Playoff Chances

With just about a quarter of the NFL season left, the playoff picture grows clearer and clearer each passing week. Some teams — not mathematically quite yet — have all but sewn up postseason berths, like the Patriots, Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore RavensRaiders, and Seahawks; but many, have not. I counted eight teams who are in the borderline category in the NFC, meaning the playoffs are a possibility, but are by no means a sure thing.

Let’s examine one reason each of the 8 will get in the playoffs and also look at one reason each will be left out when the postseason begins.

New York Giants, 8-3

In: You might be hard-pressed to find a less impressive 8-3 team in NFL history. The Giants win games by the skin of their teeth — they have only one victory by more than a touchdown (and that was against the lowly, winless Browns). They’re finding ways to win games and when you have weapons for Eli Manning, it makes it easier. The biggest weapon is still OBJ — even with all his antics.

Out: I’m probably going to utter this phrase a few more times (like when discussing the Lions and the Bucs), but you can’t keep flying this close to the sun and expect to not get burned. The Giants aren’t good enough to keep winning close games. At some point, it catches up with you.

Atlanta Falcons, 7-4

In: You have MVP candidate Matt Ryan at the helm. And you have Julio Jones going up getting balls. Enough said.

Out: The defense still has a way to go — ranked 27th in yards given up per game and 29th in points per game. Atlanta needs to prove it can win in December — usually that means with a run game and a defense.

Detroit Lions, 7-4

In: Matthew Stafford has quieted nearly all his critics and has positioned himself for record-breaking payday. His stats place him right around the top-10 in most offensive categories. The most important stat — 4th quarter comeback wins. The Lions are the only team, aside from the Browns, to trail in every one of their games so far. The good news for Lions fans — Stafford’s engineered game-winning drives in 7 of those 11 games.

Out: It’s too easy to use the “flying-too-close-to-the-sun” analogy again. But Detroit’s offense is 26th in the league in yards per game and defense is middle of pack — 15th in yards surrendered. Games against the Saints, Giants, Cowboys, and Packers are going to test Detroit on both sides of the ball.

Washington Redskins, 6-4-1

In: The Washington offense can play with anyone, ranked second in the NFL. Kirk Cousins is, again, proving he’s a legit NFL quarterback — in fact can we just stop questioning his ability, altogether? He is THE reason Washington is in position to go back to the playoffs for a second straight year.

Out: The defense that was supposed to be so much improved has disappointed. The big free agent signing of CB Josh Norman has not yielded the outstanding results that the Redskins had hoped it would. Washington is ranked 25th in yards given up and 18th in points (24 per game).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 6-5

In: The return of Charles Sims in the Tampa backfield might be just the boost the Bucs need to make a serious run at the playoffs and, possibly, the division. Tampa Bay’s been operating with a slew of unknowns at the running back position for most of the season due to injuries to Sims and Doug Martin. Sims could be back for week 14, which could open up some things for James Winston and the offense.

Out: The team has a middle of the road offense and a bottom quarter defense. That’s not a good combo when you are 6-5 and need a little help getting into the playoffs.

Minnesota Vikings, 6-6

In: The Vikings still have a vaunted defense — number 2 in points and 3 in yards, despite all their struggles on offense. And the fact that they play in the NFC North really benefits Minnesota — no team is running away with the division.

Out: At some point, the offense is going to have to win a game — or two or three. The loss on TNF doesn’t completely kill Minnesota’s postseason dreams, but it means the Vikes will in all reality have to finish the season 3-1 at worst. Their 2 losses to Detroit gives the Lions the tiebreaker. So 9 wins might not be enough for Minnesota.

Green Bay Packers, 5-6

In: There’s a belief (perhaps a fading belief) that Aaron Rodgers can will a team to win. He’s a Super Bowl winning QB with an MVP trophy at home so there’s got to be something to that. The offense is knocking on the door of the top-10. The win over Philly last Monday could set the Pack up for a stretch run — they’ll likely need to go 4-1 in their final five contests to catch Detroit.

Out: The Packers, flat, do not run the football — 22nd in the NFL. It might be what, ultimately, ends head coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure in Green Bay. They never have been great or fully committed to the ground game, but this year is killing them because the defense isn’t as good as it’s been in the past.

New Orleans Saints, 5-6

In: With the number 1 ranked offense in football and the great Drew Brees under center, you should never totally count out the Saints. The defense, granted, is terrible — but the offense more than makes up for it. And Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower have provided a running game that not many saw coming at the start of the year.

Out: The defense will need to stop a couple teams down the stretch. The beauty of the Saints is that they score so quickly. It also might be their undoing in 2016. You’ve got to give your defense a breather every now and again — and New Orleans does not do that.




College Football Championship Weekend

Bowl games are just weeks away and the only thing left to do is get these conference champions crowned. How these games will affect the College Football Playoff is still unknown — as the playoff committee appears hell-bent on Football Close Up on Fieldrendering these games meaningless. Regardless, it’s college football and one thing I know from years of watching pre-BCS, the BCS, and now the system we have currently is that this time of year you can expect the unexpected. Here’s to  celebrating some craziness this weekend!

MAC Championship

Western Michigan v. Ohio

Head coach P.J. Fleck has had to swap rumors of him jumping ship for a more lucrative contract at a Power 5 school for weeks now. Talks have really started swirling as jobs have actually become available over the last 7 days.  But none of that will matter at Ford Field when the MAC crowns it’s champion. Western Michigan is dominant in the conference and the offense should look to light up the scoreboard on the national stage. But don’t be too dismissive of Frank Solich’s Bobcats. Ohio boasts the top defense in the MAC and we all know what they about defense. But, c’mon. This story is too good — “Row the Boat!!!”

Prediction: WMU 34 Ohio 17

PAC-12 Championship

Washington v. Colorado

Jake Browning is the best QB in the country not named Lamar Jackson. And he’s got the most pro potential. The Huskies will be beyond motivated after the Playoff Committee clearly hedged their bets by waxing poetic about how close Washington and Michigan are at 4 and 5, respectively. The Buffs have an excellent defense, especially their veteran secondary. But Washington has so much to play for.

Prediction: UW 31 Colorado 17

SEC Championship

Alabama v. Florida

Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts has added a dimension to Lane Kiffin’s offense that has completely put the Tide on another level. The offense is electric and the defense can win games on their own, led by defensive end Jonathan Allen. We might be cruising to another National Championship for Nick Saban — even if they somehow, someway stumble against the Gators. I wouldn’t count on Alabama overlooking Florida, though.

Prediction: Alabama 30 Florida 6

ACC Championship

Clemson v. Virginia Tech

I’m trying to figure out ways to compare this year’s ACC title game to last year’s, where UNC gave Clemson a run for their money right up until the very end. But I can’t. Clemson is too good and VA Tech isn’t nearly good enough. Clemson can see the playoff and they have complete confidence in their ability to make some noise when they get there. As well they should.

Prediction: Clemson 38 Virginia Tech 17

Big 10 Championship

Wisconsin v. Penn St.

The winner is going to make a strong claim for one of the playoff spots. And from the sounds of it, the committee will be covering it’s ears and moving quick to drag Jim Harbaugh and U-M into the number 4 spot. But that shouldn’t impact the intensity of this game — both want to make a big statement. I expect an old school, 15-round heavyweight fight.

Prediction: Wisconsin 27 Penn St. 23