Let’s all take a moment and thank our lucky stars. The College Football Playoff committee is doing its job well, and college football is in a great place because of it.
Before looking at the present, one must look at the past. The whole point of the committee in the first place was to replace the inconsistent, mathematically-charged Bowl Championship Series system. To be different. Relying on a computer is the worst way to determine the best teams in the sport, and college football was the only major sport to do it that way.
People had issues with the formulaic, predictable pattern of the BCS. The main variable of the formula was record. If team A stood with a better record than team B, it was a virtual lock that it would find itself higher in the standings. In a situation like this week, the inaugural week of the CFP rankings, I’m nearly certain Notre Dame would find itself higher than LSU with the old system. While the difference between 3 and 4 is really nothing at the end of the day, as both teams would get in, reading between the lines provides context behind how the committee votes. And this week, I was reassured the committee knows exactly what it’s doing.
The committee members were selected to represent the brightest minds in college football observation; the jury, if you will. They were selected, and their roles were invented, to be different than the old system. Any human being with eyes could walk into that room, observe the wins and losses, loosely compare schedules, and go on their way. Thankfully, the committee isn’t just made up of ‘any human beings.’ These human beings follow more than the numbers.
As fans, we let the record of a team carry too much significance in debate. Is it important? Absolutely, only a fool would disagree. But if Notre Dame is being hoisted upon this throne of regality simply for its undefeated record, it’s time to re-examine our values.
What exactly are Notre Dame’s best wins? Michigan? An undeniably good win, but in week 1 with a new quarterback under center for the Wolverines. Stanford, at home? The Cardinal were (and still are) dealing with an injured Bryce Love, were a week off a taxing win on the road in Oregon, and are currently unranked. Virginia Tech? The team that got tossed around like a hot potato by Old Dominion? Yawn. Notre Dame’s other opponents have a combined record of 17-25. LSU defeated #6 Georgia (by 20), now #18 Mississippi State (by 16), Ole Miss (by 30), and Auburn on the road (by just 1) by a combined 66 points. All of those teams have over a .500 record.
Don’t let the flashiness of an undefeated record fool you. Forgive a team for dropping a tough game, on the road, by one possession, if it can make up for it by stacking impressive, dominant wins on top of each other.
I’m not here to bash the Irish, I think they’re a top tier team in the country right now, and where they belong. I’m here to read between the lines. I’m here to defend the committee, and say that I can forgive LSU for losing by one possession in Gainesville, because of everything else they’ve accomplished.
The committee was hired to be different, and act as humans. That’s exactly what it’s doing. It got the top 10 this week absolutely perfect.
And as college football fans, we should be grateful.