By Nick Muhl
This year’s NCAA college football season marks the first year of the new college football playoff. The four teams are to be selected by the college football playoff committee, which is made up of 11 individuals (originally was 12, Archie Manning stood down due to medical reasons) all coming from different backgrounds. Some of the committee includes members from the college athletic community like Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich and former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt. Others were questionably chosen because of their noted fandom of the sport, like former Secretary of State Condelezza Rice.
The criteria the committee will analyze during their decision in picking the final four teams is as follows: Wins, Head-to-Head results, conference championships, strength of schedule, common opponents, and injuries to key players. The final criteria listed, injuries to key players, may present the committee with one of the toughest decisions it has ever faced.
While the criteria for the each committee member to consider is listed, the amount each criteria applies to the to voter’s decision is entirely up to them. The process for the committee will be completely subjective, meaning some members may hold a season-ending injury such as Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T Barrett as more damaging to the Buckeyes than another committee members.
Jason Kirk, writer for SB Nation, published an article on October 28th, titled 9 Potential Problems with the college football playoff committee. Long before Ohio State Quarterback J.T Barrett went down to a broken ankle, Kirk predicted that the criteria for “key injuries” could be troublesome for the college football playoff committee to analyze and explain its level of importance.
“The committee will consider “other relevant factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.” That “postseason performance” part hasn’t been explained much, but it sounds troublesome.”
Kirk also cites the hypocrisy of the criteria itself. For instance, there is no criteria for factoring in Ohio State’s win over a Cincinnati team with a then healthy starting quarterback. Cincinnati now looks like a week non conference win for the Buckeyes, considering the Bearcats season deteriorated after losing starting quarterback Gunner Keil.
By no means am I a Buckeye supporter, in fact as a Michigan Wolverine fan I would somewhat enjoy to watch Buckeye fans cringe as they miss out on the first college football playoff. However, one has to wonder if the committee would factor in a season-ending injury to Jameis Winston, quarterback for the Florida Seminoles. The Seminoles have gone undefeated in a power five conference, but only have one team left on their schedule that they defeated – Louisville, who remains ranked. Compared to the Buckeyes, who do have one loss, strength of schedule should play a significant factor in the eyes of Buckeye fans. The same goes for TCU, and even Baylor, who despite defeating TCU trails them in the college football playoff standings. What if Horned Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin, currently in the top 5 of the Heisman watch list, was to go down this week in practice? How about Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty who left their game early due to concussion symptoms while Baylor barely hung on to a victory over Texas Tech?
A college football playoff that was created to lower the criticism of who is named the national champion of college football, now has the NCAA facing possibly the most postseason scrutiny ever. With conference championships remaining, the committee has very little football left before they make their final decision. One has to question why the NCAA gave the voters the subjective choice on how to order their criteria by importance. Now the Ohio State Buckeyes and Baylor Bears, who were already possibly facing the outside looking in to begin with, may be punished and kept out of the playoffs due to their quarterbacks injuries.
No matter what the final decision is, the NCAA can look forward to the many questions it will receive from the media and fans regarding how they came about choosing the final four teams.