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College Football Playoff: Thoughts About The Final Four and the Big 12

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The College Football Playoff is set and the Big 12 was the lone conference left out, despite exceptional seasons from both Baylor and TCU. I've got plenty of thoughts on the whole process, but no clear way of organizing them all. So here goes.

First, there was no wrong answer for the committee in this. Anyone with half a brain could tell TCU, Baylor and Ohio State were all very deserving teams and were clearly in the group of top six teams in the country. Putting any of those three in the field would have resulted in a great playoff. That's why the committee had such a tough decision.

All three teams had small flaws, but there were plenty of strengths as well. TCU had the nonconference win, Baylor had the head-to-head win over TCU and Ohio State had the most impressive piece of evidence, dominating a good Wisconsin team with its third-string quarterback. That was probably the biggest reason why the committee took the Buckeyes and it's really hard to find fault with that decision.

Second, the Big 12 has a lot of thinking to do and there's no clear answer on what action needs to be taken. The conference athletic directors will meet on Monday in New York City to discuss things and here's betting it won't be a happy meeting. The problem is there are no easy solutions to this problem of getting left out of the playoff with two very deserving teams.

The idea of playing a conference title game is nice, but with a round-robin schedule already, it's likely that game would be a rematch of a game played earlier in the year. That wouldn't do anything for the team that won the first meeting, even if it did give the conference an extra game.

The whole idea of co-champions is comical, but even more so because it was the athletic directors who voted on the policy to recognize co-champions. So while Baylor coach Art Briles may be mad at Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby for not touting Baylor as the “One True Champion,” he should direct his anger at his athletic director, Ian McCaw. But it is silly in this scenario the Big 12 didn't submit Baylor as the conference's champion.

However, based on comment from the selection committee chair, Jeff Long, being named a champion wouldn't have mattered as much as playing a conference title game. Also silly.

The one good thing about Baylor being shut out is the committee sent a strong message about non-conference schedules. Baylor played SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo in non-conference this year, which is just embarrassing. What's worse for Baylor is Briles and McCaw have decided to take the stance that if Baylor runs the table or just wins the Big 12, that should be enough for a playoff berth.

That's laughable. The Bears will never get into a playoff with SMU, Lamar, Liberty, UTSA and (best of all) Incarnate Word on its schedule unless they run the table or hope the rest of the country loses a couple games.

If Baylor really is arrogant (or dumb) enough to think they can schedule these awful teams and still make a playoff, they're going to find out the hard way that's not the case. They experienced that once on Sunday. Expect that more in the future if things don't change.

Finally, the weekly rankings have to go. They were a dumb idea originally and they played out exactly how everyone thought they would. It gave teams a false sense of where they stood in the eyes of the selection committee and didn't result in the openness and clarity the committee hoped it would bring. TCU not making the playoff made sense when evaluating everyone with a clean slate. It didn't make sense when the Horned Frogs won their final game 55-3 and were No. 3 the previous week.

Overall, the playoff can be considered a success because it has delivered four of the best (can't say THE four best) teams in college football to battle it out for a national championship. It also made the regular season more exciting than in the BCS era and made the sport more engaging throughout the season.

Everyone knew there would be problems and refinements should be made to the selection process. But based on the expectation of delivering an exciting way to determine a national champion, the playoff is wildly successful.

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