When debating the four football field length’s worth of mistakes made by the college football playoff selection committee, TCU belongs.
Not in 2022. In 2014.
Since the playoff committee released its BcS + 2 teams on Sunday morning, a good portion of the sports world has howled that this group of freeloaders left out undefeated Florida State because the ‘Noles are not one of the “four best teams.”
Odd because both the latest AP and coaches’ polls both rank FSU third.
That this sports injustice was executed is to ensure that we would not see another 65-7, the final score of TCU’s loss against Georgia in the 2022 national title game.
Once TCU defeated Michigan in the 2022 playoffs, it removed the Horned Frogs from a discussion that should always focus on Notre Dame, Michigan State, Notre Dame.
Never forget what TCU running back Emari Demercado said after the title game, “It’s not like anything was handed to us. At the end of the day, we put ourselves in a position to be here. No matter what the result was of this game, we won ourselves into this moment. Nobody gave it to us.”
He is biased, but he was, and remains, forever correct.
Had TCU lost to Georgia in the national semifinal game, this argument would have had a leg. But TCU defeated undefeated Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl, 51-45.
However you want to dissect that game, TCU got Michigan by making play after play after play. TCU ran for 263 yards, and had 488 yards of total offense. It never trailed.
Since the start of 2021, Michigan is 36-3, including 26-1 in the last two seasons.
Since the start of the 2019 season, Michigan has allowed 50 points twice: Nov. 30, 2019 against Ohio State, and Dec. 31, 2023.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said it best after the game, “There’s a winner. There’s a non-winner. But the winner was football. It was a great game by them.”
TCU against Michigan was everything that makes college football irresistible.
If we are trying to justify this current selection of the final four teams, the example can’t be 2022 TCU.
The example should always remain Notre Dame, Notre Dame with a side of Sparty.
In 2015, a one-loss Michigan State made the playoffs; MSU was spanked by Bama, 38-0, in the semifinal at AT&T Stadium.
This selection got a pass because the Big 10 lives on a reputation built by Urban Meyer’s Ohio State teams. The Big 10 is 3-6 all-time in the playoffs, with all of the wins coming from the Buckeyes.
In 2018, Notre Dame was considered “one of the four best teams,” because the Irish finished its regular season undefeated. Without playing a conference title game.
ND lost 30-3 against Clemson in the semifinal game.
In 2020, Notre Dame was again considered “one of the four best teams,” after it finished 10-1 during the bizarre COVID season. So what that ND lost against Clemson, 34-10, in the ACC title game?
ND lost to Alabama in the semifinals, 31-14. The game played more like 311-14.
If you insist on using TCU to rip the playoff committee, 2014 is right. That was the year both TCU and Baylor were left out because the name on the front of their respective jerseys.
TCU passed the eyeball test, but the name didn’t.
What the playoff era has revealed, conclusively, is that the notion of “the four best teams” is like saying Star Wars is based on actual events.
If we are lucky, there are two best teams.
We were lucky in 2022. The 2022 semifinal games were an amusement park, and the exception.
Before the 2022 season, 13 of the 16 semifinal games were decided by double digits. Currently, 19 of the 27 playoff games were decided by double digits.
What the playoff era has revealed, conclusively, is that college football’s postseason remains a small invitational.
What Florida State proved, conclusively, is that you can’t play your way in.
What the 2023 college football playoff process revealed, conclusively, is that this is all run by a collection of nice people, who gather at a resort, armed with notebooks full of data and facts, to host what amounts to a fantasy football draft by relying on the eyeball test.
They’re on an expense account, and the consequences to their justification of “the best four teams” will never be felt by any of them.
College football, much like the NFL, could not be destroyed by Robert Oppenheimer.
The people who run the sport can do anything secure in the knowledge we will buy the tickets, watch the games, purchase the merchandise, all while complaining to the point our vocal chords, and keyboards, will snap.
The committee made its decision based on subjective guidelines written in Jello that could just as easily justify including Iowa State as it could excluding Florida State; so, if you’re in the camp that believes “they got it right,” just keep TCU’s 2022 team out of your mouth.