For the first time in the Post-BCS era, college football’s “blue ribbon selection committee” has announced which four teams would be in the new playoff, if the season ended today. It comes as no surprise that three SEC West schools and defending champion Florida State make up today’s hypothetical Final Four. However, there’s almost no chance these four schools will wind up in the bracket together.
For one thing, #4 Ole Miss is scheduled to play BOTH top ranked Mississippi State and #3 Auburn. At least one of those three schools is guaranteed to miss the playoffs. While it is possible that two SEC West schools could make the Final Four, the playoff selection committee would have to take a lot of time to explain why it felt a team that did not even win its divisional title deserves a shot at the national championship trophy.
In large part, the new playoff system was inspired by the lackluster BCS National Championship which pitted LSU and Alabama against each other for the second time in 2011 (a game that I enjoyed both times, BTW). And that’s why I look at the first ever “Playoff Rankings” with enormous disdain. The Committee will fuel another post-season controversy if two SEC West squads make it to the Final Four. Even if most fans agree that two SEC teams belong in this year’s playoff, a very vocal minority would start clamoring for an expanded playoff system before the first ever FBS playoff game even kicked off.
That’s why, if I were to guess who would make the playoff based on their record today, it would be Florida State, Mississippi State, Oregon, and TCU. Sure, a lot of upsets can happen between now and December. But if we want to hear speculation on who will actually be playing in the Final Four, I think it makes sense for the playoff selection committee to factor in future matchups into their rankings. Otherwise, telling us the same thing as the AP and Coaches’ Polls seems unnecessary.