“There’s been no talk about a format change in the meetings of the commissioners and the presidents who manage the CFP.”
-College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, via Heather Dinich, ESPN
When the format of the College Football Playoff was first announced in 2014, it was such a vast improvement over the previous system that it was easy to overlook that teeny-tiny flaw which, for Ohio State, has become so glaringly obvious in recent seasons: That it’s hard to fit five Power-5 conference champions, the oddball independent and the undefeated team from a smaller conference into four playoff positions. Because math is hard, and the Pauli exclusion principle tells us that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. That’s to say that there are too many teams and not enough playoff spots.
In 2014, it was easy to overlook this problem. Again, it was a serious improvement over the BCS system. It looked like the playoff might be a four-team affair for a few years until the system proved effective, when the field would surely expand to eight. Right? Apparently not, as there has been no discussion about playoff expansion, according to the playoff’s executive director.
The fact is the best team in the nation could be from any of the five major conferences. With limited non-conference matchups during the regular season, racking and stacking the ACC versus the Big 12 or the SEC against the Big Ten is based solely in theory and not practice. For proof, look at 2014, when Ohio State emerged as the top team in the nation, defeating Alabama and manhandling Oregon in the inaugural playoff despite entering the field as the No. 4 seed. This season, conference champions from the Big Ten and Pac-12 were left out of the field, and a once again undefeated UCF was not considered.
Maybe the committee got it right, and the top four teams in the country are the four that made the playoff. But we will never know for sure.
“No. I’m playing in the game.”
-Dwayne Haskins, via Patrick Murphy, 247Sports.com
There is plenty of time to speculate about the future of Dwayne Haskins in the coming weeks leading up to Ohio State’s postseason matchup with Washington in the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, the redshirt sophomore isn’t giving an inch when queried about those future plans. Most recently, when asked if he was planning on playing in the Rose Bowl (as an indication of if he would choose to leave for the NFL after this season), Haskins was adamant that he would be playing alongside his teammates in Pasadena, saying that he is “looking forward to competing with my family.”
Haskins, though only having started in Columbus for one season, would certainly have a strong case to leave for the pros, especially in what looks to be a relatively weak quarterback class. By some projections, Haskins could even be a first round pick (CBSSports.com has him going third-overall to the Raiders).
Haskins made his way onto the national radar last season when he led an Ohio State comeback against Michigan following an injury to J.T. Barrett. This season, he’s wowed with a high-flying passing game which has broken most single-season program records and some long-standing conference records (sorry, Drew Brees).
On the other side of the ball, defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones has a similar choice to make. A fourth-year junior, Jones has finally been getting the attention he deserves this season, anchoring a defensive line which has kept a struggling defense in check. Though Jones has one season of eligibility remaining, it would seem that he is planning to leave after this season—especially since he already made the choice to come back to Columbus once. When asked about his own plans for the Rose Bowl, Jones simply stated “We’ll see.” It would certainly be a blow to the defensive line, which is already missing the de facto first-overall pick Nick Bosa, should Jones choose not to play.
“Why did Ohio State wind up here again? Not enough chaos.”
-Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland.com
This past weekend was once again an emotional rollercoaster for the Ohio State Buckeyes--just another follow-on to what’s been an emotional past couple of weeks. First, the Buckeyes shocked Michigan to earn a spot in the Big Ten Championship game as the Big Ten East champs. Then they defeated the Northwestern Wildcats in decisive fashion Saturday night, only to find out Sunday afternoon that they’d been snubbed a playoff bid, as the committee had favored Oklahoma for the fourth spot in the group of Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame.
Three among this group are conference champions. Three (not the same three) are undefeated. And while it would be tempting to try to demonstrate Ohio State’s playoff rationale versus Oklahoma’s (or Georgia’s, since some analysts seemed to think a two-loss loser of a conference title deserved a shot…), Oklahoma is just as deserving of its spot as Alabama and Clemson--and probably more deserving than the Irish.
Like Alabama and Clemson, Oklahoma has defeated everyone on its schedule, though it took two tries to beat Texas. Nonetheless, the Sooners finished their season with 12 wins, including a conference championship. Which leads to the obvious question of why Notre Dame has a spot, given that the Irish have actively made the decision to remain independent and avoid a challenging end-of-season test that everyone else has to participate in. Yes, they are undefeated, but the Irish have one less data point than the other three playoff teams and the first two out. Moreover, Notre Dame’s most impressive win of the season came by seven points over Michigan in its season opener. In case you forgot, Ohio State just beat Michigan by 23.
Of course Notre Dame sometimes likes to pretend it’s in the ACC. So look at its Orange Bowl matchup against Clemson as the de facto ACC Championship Game.
So if you want to be mad at someone, be mad at Notre Dame.
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