The First College Football Playoff Selection Committee Rankings

* There has already been a lot of bloviating by talking heads regarding the College Football Playoff rankings, which were released for the first time this season Tuesday night.  Coforepr  doesn’t buy into all the hype, preferring to put more faith in the AP poll for now.

* Last year’s first CFP ranking looked nothing like the final one, so what’s the point of all the conversation and speculation in early November?  In 2014’s initial rankings  –  CFP’s first ever  –  Mississippi State was #1, Florida State was #2, Auburn was #3 and Mississippi was #4.  How many of those four teams wound up making the four-team playoff?  One, Florida State.  Mississippi State lost three of its last four games.  Auburn lost four of its last five, and Ole Miss four of six.  Obviously none of these teams even came close to the final top four.  Eventual national champion Ohio State was 16th in the first ranking but advanced all the way to fourth in the early December ranking  –  the only one that really counts.  The four teams that would ultimately make the playoff were ranked 2nd, 5th (Oregon), 6th (Alabama) and 16th in the first CFP release.  So, again, what’s the big deal right now?  Let’s just enjoy the show as everything plays out and we’ll check in with the selection committee on December 6th.

* Compared to the AP poll, the CFP selection committee rankings lack credibility.  The AP poll first appeared in 1934 and has ranked college football teams every year since 1936.  This, then, is its 80th year; the CFP folks are in their second year.   With 61 voters the AP poll consists of more than five times as many opinions as the selection committee with its 12 members.

* Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a Cleveland Browns fan, which a) hardly qualifies her for a seat on the CFP selection committee, and b) calls into question her judgment in general!
Seriously, though, coforepr  doesn’t entirely trust the committee’s appraisals and determinations.  Last year the 4th seed should’ve gone not to Ohio State but to T.C.U.  (See April 13, 2015 post “The Case for Texas Christian.”)  This year’s first rankings contain some head-scratchers:  Baylor is #6?  Far and away the best offense in college football (61.1 points per game, the second best averages in the 40s) wouldn’t make the playoff if it were to start today?  Was the committee quilty of downgrading the Bears because they’ve lost their starting quarterback to a season-ending injury?  Chairman Jeff Long (AD at Arkansas) denies this allegation.  North Carolina has won seven straight games ans isn’t anywhere to be seen in the rankings, while Northwestern is #21 despite losing two of its last three and being outscored by an average of 35-13 over that stretch?  Hmm.

* But it doesn’t really matter, because there’s so much football to be played before it does matter.
In two days we get Florida State at Auburn and L.S.U. at Alabama, with Michigan State at Ohio State and Notre Dame at Stanford later in the month.  An intentionally back-loaded Big 12 schedule will see its four ranked teams all play each other.  There will be rivalry games.  And conference championship games.  And, most of all, there will be an upset or two that will throw a monkey wrench into everything we thought we knew.

* So, CFP, go ahead and do your Tuesday thing.  It does ramp up the interest in college football.  But don’t expect coforepr  to pay a lot of attention until we get a lot closer to Sunday, December 6.

College Football Playoff Rankings
Rank       Team                       Record        AP Rank
1    Clemson                             8-0                  3
2    Louisiana State                  7-0                  4
3    Ohio State                          8-0                  1
4    Alabama                             7-1                  7
5    Notre Dame                       7-1                  8
6    Baylor                                 7-0                  2
7    Michigan State                   8-0                  6
8    Texas Christian                  8-0                  5
9    Iowa                                    8-0                10
10  Florida                                7-1                 11
11  Stanford                             7-1                   9
12  Utah                                    7-1                 13
13  Memphis                            8-0                 15
14  Oklahoma State                8-0                  12
15  Oklahoma                          7-1                  14
16  Florida State                      7-1                  17
17  Michigan                            6-2                  16
18  Mississippi                         7-2                  19
19  Texas A&M                         6-2                  25
20  Mississippi State               6-2                  24
21  Northwestern                    6-2                   –
22  Temple                               7-1                  23
23  U.C.L.A.                              6-2                   22
24  Toledo  *                            7-0   *             20
25  Houston                             8-0                  18

*  These rankings were released just hours before Toledo and Northern Illinois kicked off Tuesday night.  The Rockets lost and are now 7-1.

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