Ohio State clinches playoff spot, Big 12 left out
“Go Ducks! ”
“FSU is on the warpath!”
An Ohio State Marching Band sousaphone player dotting the “i.”
Those are some of the things you’ll hear and see during college football’s biggest games this season.
Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State are the four universities voted into the inaugural College Football Playoff, the selection committee announced Sunday.
No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, and No. 2 Oregon will play No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl. Both games will take place on January 1, and the winners will face off in the National Championship Game on January 12.
After Saturday’s games, SEC champion Alabama and PAC-12 champ Oregon were entrenched in the top two slots, and ACC champion Florida State had finished the season as the only undefeated team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, college football’s top tier.
But there was plenty of controversy over which team should get the fourth and final spot. Ohio State got the nod after stomping the Wisconsin Badgers 59-0 in the Big Ten championship game.
Here’s what you won’t hear: any cheers from fans of Baylor or Texas Christian universities.
One of the five major football conferences — the Big 12 — was left out of the playoff picture. Its conference co-champions, Baylor and Texas Christian University, finished fifth and sixth in the final rankings, respectively. TCU dropped from third last week to sixth, despite defeating Iowa State decisively, 55-3, on Saturday. Baylor also won on Saturday, and had beaten TCU by a field goal, 61-58, earlier in the year.
Within minutes of the selection committee releasing its final rankings, Baylor and TCU partisans flooded Twitter with outrage.
Ironically, the new College Football Playoff was devised to eliminate controversy over who gets to play for the national championship.
Into the 1990s, conferences were aligned with specific bowl games (for instance, the SEC champion played in the Sugar Bowl each year), and No. 1 rarely met No. 2 at year’s end, sometimes leading to a split decision between the two main polls, Associated Press and United Press International, as far as who was No. 1.
But starting in the 1990s, various incarnations of what came to be known as the Bowl Championship Series attempted to pit the top two teams in the country in a winner-takes-all finale. The overall rankings were compiled using a combination of human- and computer-generated rankings. While the game featured the No. 1 BCS-ranked team versus the No. 2 team every year since 1998, often debate raged regarding whether those were actually the two best teams.
This October, for the first time, a panel of 13 football experts started meeting once a week to winnow down the field to the Final Four. While many fans praised the new system for giving two more teams a shot at a national title, the NCAA, the governing body behind collegiate athletics in the United States, acknowledged on its website that there “almost always will be more than one correct answer.”
Many sports pundits have called for an eight-team playoff. It’s safe to assume Baylor and TCU fans would agree, though it’s too late for this season.
CNN’s Mariano Castillo and Eliott McLaughlin contributed to this report.
By Mark Morgenstein