With Alabama, Oregon and Florida State all winning their conference title games, everybody expected these three schools to make the 2014 College Football Playoff. But as for the fourth team….well, the selection committee was really earning its money trying to decide this one.
A week ago, it seemed pretty clear that either No. 3 TCU or No. 6 Baylor were grabbing the fourth playoff spot. Some analysts even had it further narrowed down to Baylor because they had beaten TCU by a score of 61-58 on October 11th. But then Ohio State improbably waxed No. 13 Wisconsin by a score of 59-0 and clearly showed that they were the cream of the Big Ten crop.
And as the selection committee recently determined, this was enough to put the Buckeyes in the bracket, while snubbing both 11-1 teams from the Big 12. Now the question that some are asking is why no Big 12 representative?
The only clear answer seems to be that the Big 12 couldn’t decide on a clear champion, unlike the other four major conferences. The ACC, Big Ten, SEC and Pac 10 all have conference championships to crown a decisive winner. Meanwhile, the Big 12 is the only conference that has yet to get with the times. Instead, they named TCU and Baylor co-champions, which made the selection committee’s job that much easier.
“We had co-champions presented to us as a committee,” committee chair Jeff Long said. “So we evaluated (Baylor and TCU) as co-champions. That’s what we were presented with. We weren’t given an either-or. We were given co-champions, and that entered into the discussion. I can’t answer how it affected individual committee members.”
Long added that with Ohio State, they were a decisive No. 4 playoff team because they won their conference outright. He also alluded to the fact that OSU, which finished 12-1, had an extra game to make their case.
As for the Big 12, they have no immediate plans to add a conference championship game, although they’re heavily considering a tiebreaker next season to at least decide who goes to the Sugar Bowl. Regardless, that’s not going to do anything for them this year, and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby isn’t happy about it.
“The one thing I would say that I’m disappointed about is it appears that we were penalized for not having a postseason championship game,” Bowlsby said. “If indeed that’s the case, and I think the comments were along that line at least relative to 12 games versus 13 games, I wish we would have been advised that it was likely to be something about which we would be penalized. Not that we could have done anything about it, but we at least would have been aware of it.”
Aware of the situation or not, the Big 12 won’t get a chance to see if either of their top teams could have competed in the playoff. Instead, it will be No. 1 Alabama taking on No. 4 Ohio State and No. 2 Florida State battling No. 3 Oregon.
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