Joel Klatt is my new favorite college football analyst. He went off on the CFB Playoff Committee again this week as he joined Colin Cowherd on The Herd, and outlined why they Big 12 is at a disadvantage in the current playoff system.
He makes several good points, but one especially stands out: The committee is basically padding their stats to make the numbers say what they want them to say.
“I think the committee is basically cooking the books like Enron is cooking the books, or cooked the books, I guess you should say. I’m dead serious.
“What do you do if you’re a corporation and you want to cook the books? You don’t actually mess with profit and loss sheet. What you do is you mess with the underlying losses, right? So the P&L sheet is the thing that you look at and you say, ‘Okay, that makes sense.’, right?
“Well the committee right now is saying, ‘Well look at all this strength of schedule, look at the top 25 wins, and that.’ And you can say, ‘Okay, that makes sense’, in why teams are ranked where they’re at in the one through seven range. And then you start to look at the underlying issue of the quality, the opponents that they’ve played — TCU won a game, Colin. Won a game in which their quarterback, who is a Heisman caliber quarterback, left with an injury. Their Biletnikoff caliber wide receiver Josh Doctson also injured, and they won. Dropped three spots.
“Memphis in a loss stays where they are at. Ole Miss idle on a bye week — the last time we saw them play they lost to Arkansas at home — all of a sudden make an appearance in the rankings at 22.
“It’s propping up the teams they want to prop up in the top seven, and tearing down the teams they want to tear down in the top seven.”
Klatt is on to something, and I would even take it a step further. The Big 12’s round robin schedule actually plays into the committee’s hands. Take Iowa and Oklahoma State for example. The committee points to Iowa’s two Top 25 wins compared to that of the Cowboy’s one. Now, in addition to the committee playing up the two teams Iowa has wins over and playing down the team Oklahoma State beat, you could also look at why OSU only has one top 25 win. Have the Cowboys played a worse schedule than Iowa? No, and it’s not even close. Oklahoma State ranks 33rd in strength of schedule, while Iowa ranks just 60th. So what gives?
The fallacy is in the round-robin schedule. Everyone knows, and presumably the committee members do too, that in the Big 12, everyone plays everyone.
To explain this, let’s compare West Virginia to Northwestern and Wisconsin. The Mountaineers have lost four games, but all four were to basically top 15 opponents. Meanwhile the only ranked opponents Wisconsin has played is Alabama and of course, Iowa. Games they lost. What would their record be if they also played Ohio State, Michigan State & Michigan? Same goes with Northwestern. They beat Stanford, but fell to Michigan and Iowa. They don’t have to play Ohio State or Michigan State.
What’s amazing is how the CFB Playoff committee can argue schedule strength and wins, but ignore the actually ranking around it when it comes to the Big 12. Joel Klatt hit the nail on the head, and there’s no guarantee it’s going to get better if Oklahoma State or Oklahoma win out.