The first college football playoff poll of 2016 was revealed on Tuesday night, which garnered quite the reaction from fans across the country. Now, this is just the first one of a weekly poll that culminates on December 3rd, meaning that this poll has practically no bearing on how the playoff seedings will play out. But even though it is currently a meaningless poll, the rankings always get super analyzed and broken down as they create a huge buzz going forward.
I'm normally someone that stays away from hot takes, especially when dealing with a poll that will most likely not look anything like the final product. But what the committee did, or why they are doing it, was too egregious for me to not touch on here. I saw the rankings, sent some texts out about how incredibly ridiculous one ranking in particular was and then stewed for the next day trying to figure out how to justify it and give the committee the benefit of the doubt. I couldn't, because there's no justifying it.
Let's start with the rankings, and what they got right. Alabama is ranked #1, and that is almost universally agreed upon. They are undefeated and have been steamrolling teams this season, they look so good that I've heard some fans of other playoff teams openly talk about how they want no part of playing the Crimson Tide this season. And I know that program stability and previous years shouldn't play a factor, but it's hard to overlook Alabama's program and being the defending national champs as more reason to have them as the top team in the playoffs.
Clemson came in at #2, while Michigan came in at #3. Personally I would have them flip-flopped, but it really splitting hairs over something that doesn't matter. The #2 and #3 seed will play each other on a neutral field in the college football semi-finals so whether Clemson is #2 and Michigan is #3 or vice versa won't change anything. They will play each other with no home field advantage, so no reason to debate here.
Then the #4 ranking was revealed, and myself along with many other college football fans couldn't make sense of it. Texas A&M is ranked #4, meaning they are currently the last team in the college football playoff. It was a stunning move, but not at the same time because college football is known to make such terrible choices with rankings that it becomes more laughable than infuriating.
Texas A&M is ahead of an undefeated team, an Ohio State Buckeye team that controls their fate in the toughest overall conference and a Louisville team that is a mirror image of the Aggies but with a "better" loss. That's the gripe I have with TexasA&M being ranked #4, but really my gripe is with the committee's idea of "fun."
In the previous 2 years, they've also pulled this stunt where they toss a wildcard in the mix all in the name of ratings and sparking conversation. Whether it's ranking 3 teams from the same conference in the top 4 or ranking an undefeated team out of the playoffs and so on, they always seem to focus on that one attention grabbing ranking that gets people up in arms over. So maybe I'm a fool for falling for this, or maybe it's just because I don't care for the committee treating this like it's their own reality show that needs to shock in order to get some attention. College football sells itself, and I'd rather them just have a boring, predictable ranking show from week to week where everyone can break down what each playoff eligible team needs to take care of to ensure their spot in the final 4. Or not do one at all this early, 5 weeks is way too early to really analyze these rankings and their desire to use this as their personal spotlight seems to upset more fans than anything.
How do I know that the committee is just playing along these reality TV show lines and doing things just to get talked about? Because in the 2 years that the playoffs have been around, they have gotten the final 4 right both times. When it comes down to crunch time, the committee all of a sudden figures it out and goes chalk to what practically everyone believes are the rightful 4 teams. And it will happen this year, if Texas A&M continues to win then the committee will dangle the possibility around of them getting in over an undefeated Washington team or a potential Big Ten champion, then the Aggies won't even be in the top 6 or so when the final rankings are released and we will all agree that the committee got it right.
Each week I will continue to hope that the committee stops acting like these rankings are about them instead of the college football teams, and each week I'll more than likely be let down.