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I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Why the first college football playoff poll isn't worth the paper it's voted on

On Tuesday October 28, 2014, the first College Football Playoff poll will be released.  Experts and pundits are convinced that it will reveal all when it comes to which four teams will face off in the Rose and Sugar Bowls, then in Dallas North Texas for the BCS College Football Championship.  I don't mean to temper your enthusiasm, but this poll is pretty much meaningless. Here's why.

1) There is so much season left to play

It's amazing how spun up people get when talking about whether Notre Dame should be number 6 or 7, why Auburn or Alabama is still ranked high, and why no Big 12 team is in the Top 5 when they have just as many losses as SEC teams ranked there.  You know what? IT DOESN'T MATTER.  It will all play out.  We're convinced that the top teams will win out and somehow a worthy team will be left out.  Now with four slots, I'm more worried about an overrated team getting in.  A team like Baylor.  Or Georgia.  Or Ohio State.  Or maybe Florida State or Notre Dame.  Show me the quality wins for those?  Just let it play out and the cream will rise.  The only argument I want to hear is in December for teams number 5 or 6.  Not number 11 right now against a Top 3 team that will lose 3 of their next five.

2) The poll isn't going to differ from the AP/Coaches poll

It turns out, the people that vote in the AP and Coaches poll aren't dumb.  In fact, their paid to know college football.  Are they perfect?  No.  Are they awful? No.  The fallacy of "those polls come out too soon and are biased" have always baffled me.  Each pollster starts with a blank piece of paper every week, bound by no rules of moving up or down teams.  So the fact that Mississippi State was unranked coming into the year is why they're not number one is nonsensical.  Just look at today's polls.

3) Win the conference, make the playoffs.

The only races people should be talking about are the conference races.  If you are in one of the so-called "Power Five", you probably have an 80% chance to make the playoff.  With all the hubbub of the SEC getting two, maybe three teams, when it comes down to it, all but one of those teams have lost once, and many (many) more still have to play.  They're not going to take two-loss SEC teams over one-loss teams from other conferences.  The one extra spot as I see it is if the Pac 12 and Big 12 have nothing but two-loss teams.  Then maybe a two-loss Alabama might sneak in.  But other than that.  Win the conference, make the playoffs.  Finally, conference titles are back in vogue.

4) Really, this is just an expansion from a 2-team playoff to a 4-team playoff with a different criteria

This isn't that different than the BCS.  That was a 2-team playoff, this is a 4-team playoff.  That had a objective, mathematical criteria, this has a committee, subjective criteria.  At the end, I bet the old BCS poll was right more than wrong.  Or at least no worse.  The main thing now is that one loss really leaves you still in play.  And I think two losses does.  Not for any other reason that the big conferences have a bit more parity.  We don't have Oregon, OU, Ohio State, and Alabama ripping everyone.  The Utah's, TCU's, Michigan State's, and Ole Miss's are right there.  So we'll get the top four teams. From about ten deserved (instead of two out of three or four).

Here's my college football poll if you based it solely on performance on the field.  I'm subtracting significant points for losing to unranked teams and blowout losses.  Minus a few points for a close win against inferior opponent.  And you're not going to see teams that haven't beaten anybody ranked (East Carolina or Marshall).

My College Football Playoff poll:
1) Mississippi State (7-0)
2) Florida State (7-0)
3) Notre Dame (6-1) loss to Florida State
4) Oregon (7-1) loss to Arizona
5) Michigan State (7-1) blowout loss to Oregon
6) Auburn (6-1) blowout loss to Mississippi State
7) Kansas State (6-1) lost to Auburn

8) LSU (7-2) lost to Auburn and Mississippi State
9) Ole Miss (7-1) lost to LSU
10) Alabama (7-1) lost to Ole Miss AND struggled with Arkansas
11) Arizona (6-1) loss to unranked USC
12) TCU (6-1) lost to Baylor
13) Baylor (6-1) blowout loss to West Virginia
14) Oklahoma (5-2) lost to Kansas State and TCU and struggled with Texas

15) Georgia (6-1) loss to unranked South Carolina

16) Clemson (6-2) lost to Georgia (blowout) and Florida State
17) West Virginia (6-2) lost to Oklahoma and Alabama
18) Nebraska (7-1) loss to Michigan State AND struggled with McNeese State
19) Arizona State (6-1) blowout loss to UCLA

20) Ohio State (6-1) blowout loss to unranked Virginia Tech
21) Duke (6-1) lost to unranked Miami
22) Utah (6-1) lost to unranked Washington State

23) UCLA (6-2) lost to Oregon and Utah
24) Texas A&M (5-3) lost to Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama (blowout)
25) Louisville (6-2) lost to Clemson and unranked Virginia