TCU Passed Over in First Football Playoff
December 8, 2014

You had to know something like this was going to happen. It kind of falls in the 'be careful what you wish for' category. Twelve people were tasked with the chore of picking the best four college football teams in the country. The fourth best would play number one in one semifinal, two would face three in the other, and the two winners would play for a national championship. Sounds easy doesn't it.

As it turned out, there were six teams that all had great cases for being in that playoff. Three had to be considered locks, which left three teams for just one spot. The committee probably picked the right team for that fourth berth, but the way they went about it was unfair and wrong. Everyone seems to agree that Alabama and Oregon are the two best teams. Florida State is undefeated even though many of their wins were by small margins, but zero losses is still hard to do, so you have to take the Seminoles. That leaves TCU, Baylor, and Ohio State. All three of those teams had one loss. TCU lost to conference foe Baylor, but Baylor lost to unranked West Virginia in October. Ohio State, with their top two quarterbacks injured, destroyed Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, but lost to a bad Virginia Tech team earlier this year. The committee went with Ohio State.

What seems to be wrong with the new process, is that instead of the committee meeting at the end of the year and picking the best teams like they do in basketball, the football committee issues rankings week to week. Going into the final week of the college football season, Alabama and Oregon were ranked one and two, TCU was third, and Florida State was fourth. Baylor and Ohio State were on the outside, ranked fifth and sixth respectively. On Saturday, Alabama and Oregon both won easily, TCU routed Iowa State 55-3 and unbeaten Florida State won ugly again, but defeated Georgia Tech and remained unbeaten. The new rankings saw Florida State move up a spot, Ohio State jump to number four, and TCU (which won by 52 points) fall from third to sixth, and out of a national championship picture.

Sure Ohio State's 59-0 win over thirteenth ranked Wisconsin is more impressive than TCU beating an Iowa team that is 2-10, but that was the schedule TCU was dealt. A two-and-a-half hour ESPN selection show Sunday morning still couldn't explain what happened to TCU, but only one member of ESPN's five-member panel though what happened to TCU was wrong. The rest of the crew seemed to laugh at former Cowboys receiver Joey Galloway the whole time, when he kept asking how a TCU could fall three spots in five days after winning by 52 points. By the time they interviewed the TCU coach, Gary Patterson was too gracious to show anger or outrage.

Galloway said it best when he said the committee may have picked the four best teams, but the road to how they got there needs to be changed. You don't hear any clamoring to bring the BCS back, and this the first year of a new system, but some tweaking has to be done. Baylor fans also have a case to be upset because the Bears beat TCU, but to fall from third to sixth after a 52-point win is more than just a numbers game, it's downright cruel.

Add BCS: I haven't heard anyone go there, but one has to wonder who would be playing for the national championship if we had last year's rules. The BCS used computers with a formula that only few humans seem to know, but would unbeaten Florida State have been good enough to be ranked first or second? And if so, who would be out, Alabama or Oregon? One fan base would be pretty peeved, and it wouldn't be TCU's.

Going bowling: The 12-member committee that came up with the Final Four were also responsible for the matchups in the other major bowl games. They did a pretty good job with #6 TCU vs. #9 Mississippi in the Peach Bowl, #20 Boise State vs. #10 Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl, and #7 Mississippi State vs. #12 Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. All of those games will be played December 31, with #5 Baylor vs. #8 Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl New Year's Day...With New Year's Eve becoming almost just as big of college football holiday as January 1 now, some of the other bowls happen after the turn of the calendar. In case you missed it, UCLA will face Kansas State January 2 in the Alamo Bowl. It's one of four January 2 games, with one on the third, and the Bowl January 4 in Mobile.

Sunday messed-up Sunday: Northern California got 'reverse crossed flexed' with NFL coverage. On Thanksgiving, there was an all-NFC game on CBS when Dallas hosted Philadelphia. The previous week, San Francisco and Washington were on CBS instead of Fox, which owns the NFC contract. This weekend, Fox showed two AFC teams, with Cleveland at Indianapolis...If that wasn't bad enough, due to 'contractual obligations', Fox had to bail with 36 seconds left in order to switch to the start of the San Francisco-Oakland game. That makes sense, but the Colts were trailing 24-19 and had first and goal on the one yard line. Wouldn't you know it, Indy scored on the very next play, which was before the Niner-Raider game kicked off... I know many of my friends and relatives will strongly disagree, but how cool was it that the Raiders beat their cross-bay rivals? I can't stand either team, but chaos in Ninerland is very entertaining... News broke Sunday that Los Angeles is “closer than ever” to getting an NFL team. It seems that comes up every five years or so, but LA still remains without a team for going on 20.

Just for kicks: I didn't watch it live, but after the San Diego Chargers were throttled by New England, I watched the MLS Cup soccer championship between the New England Revolution and LA Galaxy. Why is it that soccer play-by-play broadcasters have to have British accents? Does ESPN think that makes them sound more credible or something? The Galaxy won the game 2-1 in extra time. It was Landon Donovan's last professional match before retirement.

Baseball biz: Lots of trades and free agent signings are expected this week at baseball's Winter Meetings in San Diego. In the first day of the four-day frenzy, the A's traded their last hitter—Brandon Moss to Cleveland for a minor leaguer. Moss, Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jed Lowrie are all gone from last year's club, although they did get Ike Davis, Billy Butler, and Brett Lawrie. Pitcher Jon Lester, who finished last season with Oakland is expected to make his decision on which team he'll sign with tomorrow, and Jason Hammel, whom the A's got from Chicago, signed a free agent deal today to go back to the Cubbies...Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported over the weekend that the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks had agreed to an Andre Ethier for catcher Miguel Montero deal but D-Backs ownership stepped in and stopped it. The deal makes sense because the two players have similar contracts, the Dodgers have too many outfielders, and could use a catcher. Also, Ethier is from Phoenix and went to Arizona State. Diamondbacks executive Tony LaRussa denied to that there was ever a deal in place.

Don't ever give up: ESPN always replays it this time of year, and it's always worth watching. Jim Valvano's 1993 speech at the ESPY Awards, just about six weeks before the North Carolina State basketball coach died of cancer. This is 'Jimmy V Week', where several college basketball games are played, and proceeds are donated to cancer research.

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