Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Bilo's College Football Commentary: One Loss Teams and the Playoffs

   During my weekly appearance on the Mitch and Pritch show on ESPN 1100 and 100.9 in Las Vegas today, I was posed a very good question as to whether or not there is ever a time that a one loss team should be given a playoff spot over a team with one loss. I have been all over the place on this issue, and the answer is varied from year to year. Some years the answer is a stunning yes, while others, it is not so clear. Allow me to explain.
     First, I should explain that my view on being undefeated in any year is that it is the most difficult thing in sports to do. Whatever strength of schedule a team has, finishing without a loss is a grueling march through the mud. Even if you have a weak schedule, it is so amazingly easy to trip up in a game that you could be favored trap game by more than 20 points. It has happened on numerous occasions, and that kind of loss has on many occasions ruined great seasons.
     The discussion this year centered around Washington, and how they were ranked behind Texas A&M last week, and finished ahead of Ohio State this season. I do believe that Washington should be ranked ahead of Ohio State (5th this week in playoff rankings) or Louisville (6th). I believe this based on the fact that Ohio State is in the Big 10 East, which is obviously the same conference and division as Ohio State. Louisville is in the same conference and division as Clemson. Obviously, there is no scenario in which Ohio State and Michigan will share the division title. Same said for Louisville and Clemson.
     The playoff was not created in a 4 team format to take on teams who have not won divisional or conference titles. In an 8 team format, this could be acceptable. It would be acceptable if instead of a Big 10 East program were in the conversation, the representative program were from the West, and if the ACC team were from the Coastal division, one could see the scenario in which two teams from the same conference could be ranked in the top 4, as the two division leaders could settle matters in their conference title game, which would eliminate one from the final 4.
     The only way to settle this issue is playoff expansion, which could be minimally 8 teams, but 16 would be more preferable. Of course, that would also signal the end of the bowl era, but we all know the greed and outdated sense of loyalty to a dying system will not allow this to happen.
     We also discussed 2 loss teams. Unless there is some massive November chaos that takes place, that is not a consideration worth speaking of. Wisconsin and Colorado are two programs that come to mind when discussing this issue, but Oklahoma would likely leap ahead of both, as they are undefeated in Big 12 play. This is not going to happen, but would maybe be how it would all go down. Unless all of the wheels fall off the wagon, 2 loss teams will not be a topic of conversation.
     All in all, I value undefeated seasons, as I do not believe that any loss is a good loss, especially when you are fielding 4 teams out of 128 in a playoff. Good losses are a thing for FCS and D2 playoffs, as they don't have a ridiculous bowl system to cling to.
     I do, however, think that strength of schedule does have a place in the conversation. Mitch Moss brought up Baylor as a hypothetical team, and based on years of horrible scheduling, he has a point. Baylor rarely ever plays a schedule, specifically out of conference, that rattles the nerves. It is a rare season that Baylor plays a Power Five program in non con play, and that is a shameful thing. In the case where you have a team that just historically refuses to play anyone of matter out of conference, than my opinion does change on undefeated teams ranking ahead of one loss, but it would have to have a historical precedence of "Baylor's" having not played anyone of worth.
     This is a question that will not be answered with certainty anytime soon, but it is ongoing debate that is a worthy one, and I am glad that the question was presented. I am certain that this is not the last time that we will speak on the topic. I have included the link to today's appearance below, so enjoy the debate!

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