Sunday, December 7, 2014

The case for TCU

But you know what? Though nobody knows for sure what the almighty "committee" will come up with in a few hours, chances are good the Horned Frogs will be left out of the Final Four college football national championship playoff.

And that's not right. Sure, a lot of game action happened earlier and several teams tried to make their cases. Some were impressive. Some not so much.

Already considered a Top 2 team, Oregon avenged their only loss by throttling #7 Arizona 51-13. The Ducks are definitely in. But everybody likes ducks for various reasons. Some people feed them cracked corn at nature centers (me), while others sit out in the rain with shotguns and decoys trying to blast a couple for dinner. And hey, Daffy Duck ran around nude from the waist down for years on TV. Everybody loved Daffy. Alas, nobody's seen him around lately. Maybe the politically correct people finally caught up with him. Or a 12 gauge.

Alabama handled Missouri 42-13, so the Tide is in as well. One way or the other, you just knew Bama was going to be there at the end.

Florida State barely hung on to defeat Georgia Tech 37-35. Hardly a ringing endorsement. But consider: The Seminoles are reigning national champs. They started the season at #1, and still haven't lost a game -- 29 wins in a row. How they've managed to drop to #4 when the teams above them all have a loss on their record is a good question. But dropping them out of the playoff picture would be mind-boggling. Ain't gonna happen. The 'Noles are in.

So now it comes down to the fourth and final spot.

Ohio State made a huge statement by steamrolling a very good Wisconsin team 59-0 in the Big Ten conference championship game. Though now on their third quarterback, the Buckeyes have gotten better instead of worse. They're as good as anybody right now. But way back in Week 2, they got blistered by two touchdowns in their own house by an unranked Virgina Tech team. Isn't that supposed to matter? Evidently not. The early buzz has OSU, which was ranked #5 or 6 before the Wisconsin game, making a last second jump into the playoffs. That means they would have leap-frogged....

TCU. The Horned Frogs were a consensus Top 4 team going into their final regular season game. Yes, it was against lowly Iowa State, but a Big 12 conference opponent, and that's just how the schedule worked out. They walloped the Cyclones 55-3, twenty points over the point spread. The Frogs likely could have put up a couple more touchdowns had they not gone into "taking a knee" mode halfway through the fourth quarter. They showed a bit of mercy, and definitely a touch of class by doing so. Their only loss, in a pretty tough conference, was to Baylor, another Top 10 team, on the road, by 3 points.

But let's gets real. TCU was a doormat team for decades and there are those that still can't wrap their minds around them being a legitimate contender. In other words, they were (and are) looking for a way to leave them out.

And tomorrow, they likely will be. But how can a team that was ranked #3 win their last game by a conservative 52 points and drop two or more spots in the polls? Answer below.

We have heard repeatedly about strength of schedule and total bodies of work being determining factors. As another in a long line of one loss teams, TCU has a fairly complete resume. To boot, the Big 12 is no pansy conference. They feature four teams in the Top 25.

Answer to question. Two reasons. The "committee" and the TV folks. Put another way -- politics and money.

Consider the folks on the committee itself.

Four are athletic directors at various universities. OK, qualified.
A Vice Chancellor. Hmmm.
A former NCAA executive vice-president. Does he know football?
Tom Osborne. He definitely knows college football.
Archie Manning? Hey, if Peyton and Eli can keep making stupid commercials, might as well put the old man on a committee.
A former Commissioner of the Big East. Sounds too political. See Vice Chancellor above.
A former reporter. Why former?
A retired Air Force general? And what, pray tell, does HE know about college football?
Some dude named Tyrone that coached seven different football schools -- and was fired from them all.
And of course, the beloved Condoleezza Rice. We've long heard about how super-smart she is. So why is it she never could seem to get anything right when she was in the limelight of the political world?

This is quite the motley crew. But they all rose to their current positions because they were adept at "playing the game", which has nothing to do with football.

On the other hand is TV. If you were a network executive, who would you rather see in the playoffs? Ohio State or TCU? Which do you think would generate more mega-bucks in ad time? And don't think for a minute the committee isn't acutely aware of such things. According to the commercial, they might be in a sequestered room guarded by some doofus-looking cop, but they're hardly out of touch with other movers and shakers in the real world. In the end, big bucks always seem to have a way of winning out.

So yours truly fully expects TCU, though certainly deserving, to get eased out of the playoffs. Politics, pressure, and money will prevail.

The only upside to this is the head coaches. Three of them have to lose before it's all over. As a new guy, Mark Helfrich at Oregon seems like a nice enough sort since taking over from Chip Kelly. But Urban Meyer at OSU, Nick Saban at Bama, and Jimbo Fisher at FSU are all cocky, smug, holier-than-thou SOBs -- which shows in their players' body language and attitude as well --  that need to be taken down a peg. At least two of them will be in January.

I'm still rooting for ya, TCU, but I don't think you're going to make the cut.

And no, it's not fair. Even if you hadn't shown class by not running up the score anymore against Iowa State, and pounded them 80-3 or whatever, it likely wouldn't have made any difference. The fix was in. Ohio State putting a beatdown on Wisconsin just made it easier to justify what they wanted all along.

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