NCAA is embroiled in a controversy after the College Football Playoff Selection Committee chose Michigan, Washington, Texas and Alabama to compete in the FBS play-offs starting on New Year’s Day, and by-passed undefeated ACC Champion Florida State. This was the first time in the play-off’s ten-year history where the committee left off an undefeated Power 5 Champion. Florida State was not selected because their star quarterback Jordan Travis broke his leg in their game versus Northern Alabama on November 18, and their two back-up quarterbacks, Tate Rodemaker and Brock Glenn, were less than stellar in their team’s subsequent 3 victories.
The problem with the decision that the committee made was that it was not based on consistent criteria. If their decision was based on selecting the four teams that earned it on the field, then Florida State should have been included without a question. But if the decision was selecting the four best teams, then Georgia should have been included without a question. But neither Florida State nor Georgia is in the NCAA FBS football playoffs. It is hard to figure out what criteria, if any, they actually used to arrive at their final four teams.
You would be hard-pressed to make the argument that Washington and Texas did more to earn it on the field than Florida State. Washington won a conference that is disbanding, that does not exist anymore. If the Pac-12 was such a strong conference and therefore winning it deserves a bid to the playoffs, then why are so many schools fleeing that conference? The same can be said for Texas and the Big-12. If the Big-12 was such a competitive conference and winning it was such a big accomplishment, then why are Texas and Oklahoma leaving? There is no Pac-12 anymore, and the Big-12 has been radically down-graded, but the committee believed winning those conferences was such an accomplishment that their winners had to be in the playoffs, therefore, they excluded Florida State claiming it was because they lost their quarterback.
Imagine if the Dallas Cowboys run the table the rest of the way this season, become the number one seed, but they lose Dak Prescott to an injury in the last game of the season, and Roger Goodell moves Dallas down to the 8th seed, and bumps the seven teams below them up a spot, claiming that because Dallas lost their Pro-Bowl quarterback, they are no longer good enough to deserve a spot in the play-offs. It doesn’t matter that the Cowboys had earned it on the field, they are out of the play-offs because they lost their quarterback. The same people who support excluding Florida State would be apoplectic if that happened to Dallas. But that is exactly what the committee did to Florida State. The committee claims that they put the best four teams in, but really, they didn’t.
You would be hard-pressed to make an argument that Georgia is not one of the best 4 teams in the nation, and they have been excluded. They are clearly a better football team then Washington and Texas. Georgia had won 29 straight games and back-to-back National Championships. They had been ranked the number 1 team in the nation in the pre-season poll and for every one of the first 13 weeks of the season. Less than 10 days ago, on November 26, they received 52 of 62 possible first place votes in the national rankings. If you were to poll the four teams in the playoffs, which team in the entire country would they least like to face, it would be Georgia, hands down. Clearly, Georgia was the best team in the nation, but by the virtue of a 3-point loss to Alabama, they go from number one to out of the play-offs?
They didn’t earn it on the field, you may say. They lost to Alabama in the SEC championship game. Okay, then why is Florida State, who did earn it on the field, excluded? Because they lost their quarterback, so they weren’t one of the best 4 teams in the country. Okay, if it’s the best four teams, then why is Georgia, who for 14 straight weeks was clearly the best team in the nation, excluded? They didn’t earn on the field because they lost to Alabama. Okay, then we’re back to Florida State. When you don’t use consistent criteria, you end up with circular reasoning.
This is what you get into when you make decisions by committee and not by meritocracy. You get bad decisions. You get decisions not based on who are the best teams or who are the most deserving teams. Not having either Georgia or Florida State means it was a bad decision all around. And what is the lesson that is being taught through this? Meritocracy doesn’t matter. Finding a way to overcome hardships and battle through adversity, should not be rewarded.
But this decision wasn’t about who earned it or who was the best team; the decision was about which games will produce the biggest ratings. That’s it. It was all about the money which is what most decisions in college sports are about these days – money. Why do you think USC and UCLA left the Pac-12? Money. Why do you think Texas and Oklahoma left the Big-12? Money. Why do you think starting FBS quarterbacks, like Ohio State’s Kyle McCord, are entering the transfers portal? Money. Nebraska Head Coach Matt Rhule recently said that a starting quarterback in the transfer portal cost up to $2 million. It’s all about money. And every time you make a sports decision based solely on the money, you corrupt the sport more and more and more, until one day, you don’t have a sport worth anything anymore.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.