One thing everyone has learned since the advent of the College Football Playoff rankings is that everything is subjective and there isn’t any real rhyme or reason behind where a team is eventually slotted.
The latest example came this week when the Alabama Crimson Tide jumped to the No. 1 overall spot after beating then No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Alabama claimed the top spot despite being ranked behind the Oregon Ducks, Florida State Seminoles and TCU Horned Frogs during the previous week. None of those teams lost this past weekend, yet Alabama still leapfrogged them in the rankings.
There are no hard or fast rules when it comes to theses new rankings. The committee simply takes into consideration certain aspects like strength of schedule, head-to-head meetings, etc. However, it’s at their discretion which team is ranked where. And it’s an inexact science.
The latest example came with a new buzzword emanated from the chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long. The term “game control” or some variation was used to explain the latest rankings.
While it’s an impressive sounding term to give everyone a reason behind certain decision, there isn’t any actual substance to it.
“There’s absolutely no metric involved,” Long told USA TODAY‘s George Schroeder. “It’s a discussion amongst committee members about controlling the game.”
The term was used in conjunction with Alabama’s 25-20 victory over Mississippi State.
“What I was trying to convey is that it wasn’t a three-touchdown blowout of Mississippi State,” Long said. “They were within less than two touchdowns the whole way. But we never felt Alabama was out of control of that game.
“It’s more of, the committee watches the games, and then we discuss the game and we talk about whether the game was a back-and-forth contest, whether someone assumes control in the game early and keeps it throughout, (or) whether they assumed (control) in the second quarter or the third quarter or the fourth quarter and controlled it to the end.”
This explanation was good enough to rank Alabama No. 1 overall, while Mississippi State only fell to No. 4 and TCU was ranked No. 5 after struggling against the Kansas Jayhawks.
When everyone clamored for a playoff system, it was supposed to solve all the problems the computers created during the BCS era. Instead, the process has become even more subjective and less defined as to what it takes to eventually earn a spot as one of the top four teams in college football.