Two plus two does not equal five, or even six.
That is the reality of the College Football Playoff.
With five major conferences, it was that assured at least one would not be represented and that their would be the inevitable controversy surrounding one team being “snubbed.”
(Side note: “snub” is one of my favorite terms in sports media — right alongside “choke” and a team “controlling it’s own destiny.”)
Which brings us to Ohio State being selected over TCU and Baylor by the selection committee illuminati just five days after the previous ranking deemed TCU better than Florida State for the number three seed.
After thrashing lowly Iowa State 55-3, the Horned Frogs dropped not only behind the Seminoles, but also behind Ohio State and Baylor.
One piece I read asked how TCU could be punished. The Horned Frogs did not get punished, instead Ohio State wound up being rewarded.
The final week of the season saw all the top teams taking care of business. Alabama, Florida State, and Oregon all won their conference championship games that served as the national quarterfinals. That left Baylor, Ohio State, and TCU.
The penultimate rankings saw Ohio State “punished” due to the season-ending injury of J.T. Barrett. That view by the committee changed after the Buckeyes destroyed Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten title game.
TCU routed Iowa State while Baylor defeated ninth ranked Kansas State 38-27. Neither team did anything wrong — Ohio State simply proved more impressive while Florida State finished undefeated.
And remember: Baylor beat TCU in a 61-58 shootout earlier this season that personally had me wondering how either could stop Alabama or Oregon in a semifinal game.
That is not an indictment of the Big XII not having a conference title game. Had any of the top three teams lost in their conference title game, those teams would be out. Conference title games are a double-edged sword, and the knee-jerk reaction is for the Big XII to expand by two schools or convince the NCAA to allow a title game for the ten-team conference.
That is not necessarily a solution. In a hypothetical 12-team Big XII, TCU and Baylor would likely be in the same division – which would have resulted in Baylor advancing to the conference title game this year. Their opponent would likely have been Kansas State, the same team the Bears defeated Saturday.
Would a second win over K-State have been enough to vault the Bears into the top four? As with Ohio State, it would have come down to style points.
Complaints about the old BCS, and now the College Football Playoff have become an annual tradition. I would rather focus on how far TCU and Baylor have come in recent years just to be in the conversation.
Five years ago TCU belonged to the Mountain West Conference and considered a mid-major. Getting into the BCS and defeating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl instantly became a signature win for the program.
Prior to the arrival of Robert Griffin III, Baylor resided in the bottom reaches of the conference, only granted admission into the Big XII in the 1990s to ensure a fourth Texas-based school.
The ceiling for both schools seemed limited as smaller, private institutions. Today TCU plays in a beautiful, refurbished facility while Baylor opened a brand new stadium this fall.
And both did well enough to finish on top of the Big XII and be national title contenders. Unfortunately the CFP data had both as the first two out. And in all honesty, would either be capable of downing both Alabama and Oregon? We’ll never know for sure, but the system calls for only four.
This should not be about TCU and Baylor being punished but as the two schools being rewarded. Both will be playing in New Year’s Six bowls – Baylor will play up the road v. Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl while TCU battles Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. That is not a bad consolation prize. The teams and their fans still get nice destinations and the players receive hundreds of dollars worth of swag.
Out of 128 teams in the FBS, there is nothing wrong about being the first two schools excluded. And be happy the CFP Final Four does not include two or even three SEC teams.