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The current College Football Playoff isn’t built for the Big Ten

The conference will always be at a disadvantage in the current system.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff-Selection Sunday Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“Someone made a point to me about there should be more of a more systematic way of setting the schedule. Who you play, whether it’s eight conference games, nine conference games, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.”

-Urban Meyer, via Doug Lesmerises,

With Brian Kelly’s statements over the weekend regarding playoff expansion, and rumblings that ADs and others are calling for the system to grow, it would seem that, despite statements by the executive director of the College Football Playoff to the contrary, the playoff may be in expansion mode sooner rather than later.

However, it might not be the playoff itself that is the problem, but the way that teams are choosing to (or required by other constraints) to get there. UCF was left out again despite an undefeated season because the Knights are not in a major conference. Notre Dame would not even have been in the conversation had they sustained a loss. And while these factors are apparent, there are even more subtle differentiators at play. For example, while the SEC and ACC--two conferences which have placed teams in the playoff every year--each play eight conference games, the other three Power-5 conferences, including the Big Ten, play nine. Those three conferences have made no more than three individual appearances.

If the playoff were not to expand, Ohio State would have a lot of options to adjust its schedule to fit the ambiguous and unstated preferences of the CFP committee, none of which are actually good options. For example, while many have called for (and Jim Delany acknowledged) is a Big Ten Championship game featuring the top-two teams in the conference, as opposed to divisional champs, effectively doing away with the Big Ten East and West when it counts. If that system were in place this year, it would have meant Ohio State and Michigan played again just a week after The Game. A win for Ohio State would have meant unequivocal, decisive victory (which was already assumed by the committee) and a loss would have meant a deadlock with no way to determine who was the better team. Remember that time LSU and Alabama rematched in the National Championship and Alabama won despite getting beat in the regular season? Yeah, no one wants that for the conference.

“It’s been a dream of mine to play here for a long time and it’s been a blessing to be part of this team, part of this university, part of my teammates and that will be a hard decision to make.”

-Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, via Andrew Holleran, The Spun

Dwayne Haskins could be one of the best quarterbacks in the 2019 draft class, with many projections citing Haskins as a first-rounder with an enormous upside, even after playing just one season as a starter. For teams looking for that next generation quarterback (cough, New York Giants), Haskins holds a lot of appeal. But, much to the well-contained joy of Ohio State fans everywhere, NFL teams might have to wait another year to get their hands on Haskins.

No, nothing is set in stone at this point. In fact, Haskins has not commented directly on his NFL intentions, and has simply acknowledged that he’ll be playing in the Rose Bowl for Ohio State with a decision coming later. However, after running back Mike Weber released a statement Sunday that he would be entering the NFL Draft following the Rose Bowl (which he will play in as well), Haskins commented “One more year Mikey [crying emoji]” on the Instagram post. That kind of comment would, in theory, indicate that Haskins himself is planning on staying for another year in Columbus.

Despite breaking pretty much every relevant single-season record at Ohio State, Haskins has tremendous upside if he were to stay another year. For starters, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, has reaffirmed his intentions to play for the Oakland A’s next season (and collect on a $4.7 million paycheck), meaning that Haskins could enter 2019 as a frontrunner for college football’s most prestigious award. He also has young talent on his side, despite losing at least three of his top receivers to graduation, including Chris Olave, who has been electric playing in just a few games this season. Haskins would be the anchor of the Ohio State offense as the program moves into the first season of the Ryan Day era.

But, realistically, this is all speculation.

Congrats to the five Ohio State football players who received their degrees at Autumn Commencement over the weekend! With these five new grads, Ohio State will have a total of 11 graduates on the roster come the Rose Bowl.

The group included:

  • Wide receiver Parris Campbell, sociology
  • Wide receiver Johnnie Dixon, sociology
  • Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, sociology
  • Offensive tackle Malcolm Pridgeon, human development and family science
  • Brady Taylor, family resource management

While it was mildly depressing to hear that Jones, a redshirt junior, opted to forego his final season of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft following the Rose Bowl, it does brighten the mood knowing he is leaving Columbus with his college degree.

In all, 11 players on the Rose Bowl roster will have already completed their respective degrees come Jan. 1. Dixon and Campbell are joined by fellow wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who graduated last year, adding another chapter to what has been such a positive story of camaraderie among this group of receivers this season. Linebacker Dante Booker, guard Demetrius Knox and kicker Sean Nuernberger also received their diplomas already, along with graduate transfer quarterback Chris Chugunov.

In all, more than 40 current and former student athletes from 21 sports received their degrees Sunday. Congratulations to all!