“And we’ve been telling them the 13th data point matters, and we added a conference championship game because of that. We’ve always heard that conference championships matter and division championships matter, and now it’s confusing.”
The Big 12 conference has serious questions for the 12 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee, especially after the announcement of the four teams who made the third iteration of the event this season. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, though acknowledging that the conference really didn’t have a dog in the fight this season, with Oklahoma ending the year ranked No. 7 in the rankings, said that the selection of the teams this season was “confusing” given past precedent for the committee, adding that “It’s just another case in which we need to seek clarification.”
Bowlsby in particular took issue with the selection of Washington, which boasted one of the weakest nonconference schedules in the country with wins over Idaho, Rutgers and Portland State of the FCS. After Baylor was left out of consideration for the first two seasons of the playoff, owing partly to their exceedingly poor non-conference schedule (which included the likes of SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo in 2014 and SMU, Lamar and Rice in 2015), the Big 12 revised its scheduling policy, requiring all teams to schedule at least one Power 5 non-conference opponent and limiting FCS opponents to one per season. Now, however, Bowlsby hopes to gain clarification for the conference on if, in fact, a strong non-conference schedule is required for a playoff berth.
Given how TCU was left out of the playoff in 2014, Bowlsby also had questions about the necessity of a conference championship in making the field of four, with Penn State being left out of the playoff in favor of Ohio State. In TCU’s case, the Horned Frogs fell from the No. 3 spot to No. 6 in the final rankings, which contributed to the Big 12’s decision to bring its conference championship game back starting next season. Now, however, with Ohio State placing second in the Big Ten East behind the Nittany Lions but still earning a playoff berth, the necessity of a conference championship is called into question.
“The thing that bothers me about all this process is I think having a brand matters as well. If you flipped the jerseys and took Penn State and Ohio State and flipped those jerseys around, I think you’re not even having this discussion.”
Prior to the playoff field being set Sunday afternoon, the key question which remained to be answered was who, between Washington, Penn State and (hypothetically) Michigan, would earn the crucial No. 4 ranking and thereby a spot in the College Football Playoff to take on Alabama. To most, Ohio State was a shoe in for a playoff bid, though the particular ranking remained up for debate. Danny Kanell, however, took issue with the assumption that Penn State would be beat out by Ohio State in the first place, believing the Nittany Lions earned the berth owing to their head-to-head win over the Buckeyes and their Big Ten title.
After Ohio State was placed at the No. 3 spot, taking on Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, and Washington nabbed the final position in the playoff, Kanell pointed out that the Buckeyes’ ‘brand’ likely made the difference in getting Ohio State in over Penn State. While he did not take issue with Washington making the field of four, even stating that the Pac-12 had been “undervalued all year long,” Kanell seemed to think that it was the Ohio State name that got them into the playoff, sans a conference championship or even a division title.
Others on the panel disagreed with Kanell, namely former Buckeye Joey Galloway, who pointed out that Penn State actually does have a very strong brand historically, which is making a comeback after recent scandal. With the first 10-win season since 2009 and a strong coach who has been able to rebuild the program in spite of sanctions imposed in 2012, Penn State has brought itself back into relevance on a national scale. David Pollack also discussed how Washington--who had not won a conference championship since 2000 and has been largely irrelevant for quite some time--itself does not have a strong football brand.
Ohio State has eight players on Associated Press' first All-Big Ten team https://t.co/6WVob7jpEO— Ari Wasserman (@AriWasserman) December 5, 2016
Eight Ohio State players were named to the Associated Press’ first team all-Big Ten list this afternoon--the most of any school on the list--headlined by quarterback J.T. Barrett on offense:
- QB J.T. Barrett
- OG Billy Price
- C Pat Elflein
- WR Curtis Samuel
- DE Tyquan Lewis
- LB Raekwon McMillan
- S Malik Hooker
- P Cameron Johnston
Four Buckeyes also made the second team list:
- RB Mike Weber
- OT Jamarco Jones
- All-Purpose: Curtis Samuel
- CB Marshon Lattimore
Weber was also named the AP’s Big Ten newcomer of the year. Michigan had five players named to the first-team, including Jabrill Peppers on two occasions.