The College Football Playoff Selection Committee released its final rankings on Sunday and they were what most fans of the sport had feared: completely unremarkable.
The top four teams stayed exactly the same when maybe they shouldn't have. And when you look at the rest of the New Year's Six bowls, the committee made some truly asinine decisions, as deserving teams were screwed out of spots. After an awful year from this group, it's time to blow the whole process up and start from scratch.
The committee rightly ranked Alabama No. 1, as the undefeated Crimson Tide are clearly the nation's best team. Clemson (9-1) is probably the second-best team after routing Notre Dame on Saturday in the ACC Championship Game. The Tigers' only loss came at Notre Dame when they were without starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Ohio State (6-0) will face Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, and Notre Dame will face Alabama in the Rose Bowl, fresh off of getting run out of the ACC title game.
Some were hoping Notre Dame would drop out, allowing Texas A&M to creep in, but it was clear from the start this year's committee was set on protecting college football's big brands. It punished some teams for playing fewer games, but kept Ohio State in the top four the entire way. Losses seemed to matter for some teams, but not others. There was zero logic that applied across the board.
CFP selection committee chair Gary Barta repeatedly said the committee had great respect for undefeated Cincinnati and that's an absolute crock. The Bearcats went 9-0, ran through their schedule relatively easily, and beat Tulsa, which finished 24th in the rankings. They have a better resume than three-loss Florida and two-loss Oklahoma (who lost to a horrid Kansas State team). But Cincinnati finished behind both teams in the rankings at No. 8. Why should these smaller teams even participate in the playoff system if they can go undefeated and still be dismissed out of hand?
It's clear after this season the playoff must be expanded to at least eight teams. Hell, I'd be fine with 16. The selection process also needs to be completely blown up. Thirteen people meeting in a room every week to talk these things out is a horrible way to do things. Everyone has their own biases, the members clearly aren't watching the games and they're so far removed from logic. There also doesn't appear to be a clear set of criteria to look at as there is for the NCAA basketball tournament.
If you look at the teams that made the New Year's Six bowls the logic completely disappears.
Iowa State lost three games -- including a loss to a non-power five team at home -- and earned a trip to the Fiesta Bowl over Indiana. The committee overrated the Cyclones all year and wasn't about to admit it made a mistake. Iowa State lost to Louisiana 31-14, and currently-unranked Oklahoma State 24-21 before losing to Oklahoma 27-21 in the Big 12 title game. Barta claimed Iowa State's "big wins" impressed the committee. Those "big wins" came at home against Oklahoma (who they later lost to nullifying its importance) and against an average Texas team that wound up ranked 20th. Forgive me for not being impressed.
Indiana, who was No. 7 in both polls this week, finished 6-1 but the committee placed the Hoosiers outside the top 10, claiming the team's schedule wasn't tough enough. Indiana's only loss came by seven points on the road against No. 3 Ohio State. But at the same time, Barta praised Ohio State for winning some big games. The two teams are in the same division of the Big Ten and played the same teams -- scratch that, Indiana actually played one more. The only non-common opponent was 6-2 Northwestern, who was entirely average and lost to a Michigan State team Indiana dominated.
The committee used Ohio State's close wins over Indiana and Northwestern as proof the Buckeyes belonged in the playoff, but at the same time gave the Hoosiers no credit for playing that game close or winning the rest of its games. Either Indiana is good and therefore Ohio State belongs, or Indiana is bad and there's no justification for the Buckeyes to be in the playoff. You can't have it both ways. As I said though, logic doesn't apply to this year's selection committee.
The fact that Iowa State is in a New Year's bowl game and Indiana isn't is patently ridiculous. Hell, two-loss Georgia is going to the Peach Bowl to face Cincinnati despite not beating a top 25 team and having two losses. If Indiana was punished for not having any big wins, why wasn't Georgia? Again, the logic doesn't apply evenly.
Even more infuriating, due to a conference tie-in, three-loss North Carolina will play in the Orange Bowl. The Tar Heels aren't very good, as they lost to Notre Dame and bad Florida State and Virginia teams. But because the ACC got two teams in the playoff, the Orange Bowl was forced to take the third-place team, whether their resume warranted a major bowl berth or not.
Again, what are we doing here?
The bowl tie-ins should disappear once a conference has a team selected to the playoff. That spot should go to an at-large team, in this case either Indiana or Coastal Carolina, who are both ranked ahead of North Carolina. The current system is absolutely ridiculous.
The playoff has grown stale over the past few years. This is setting up for another Alabama-Clemson title game, which would be the third time those two teams have played in six years. Maybe if we added more teams and mixed up the matchups we'd get some upsets. Instead Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson are basically in it every year. Does anyone who isn't a fan of the teams involved even care anymore?
This whole process has become a joke and it needs to be blown up and completely restructured. For the long-term health of college football that needs to happen now.