The College Football Playoff choices set up a confusing template for what matters most in the title chase
The College Football Playoff selection committee was put in a no-win situation and still managed to turn a guaranteed loss into a debacle.
With six teams laying claim to four spots, two schools and their fan bases were guaranteed to cry foul Sunday after the national semifinal matchups were announced. In the end, No. 1 Michigan, No. 2 Washington, No. 3 Texas and No. 4 Alabama are still alive, and No. 5 Florida State and No. 6 Georgia were left in the cold.
Here are five messages or mixed messages that the committee sent in the final year before the playoff expands to 12 teams next season:
1. Neither the four most deserving nor the four best teams made it.
All that debate about which way to go beforehand and neither happened.
Does anyone think that Georgia which has compiled seven straight recruiting classes ranked in the top-four nationally by 247Sports and had a 29-game winning streak snapped with a three-point loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game is not one of the four best? Does anyone think that Florida State which finished an undefeated season in arguably the third-best conference in the nation does not have one of the four most-deserving rsums?
11Georgia entered the SEC title game as the No. 1 team in the nation and left with a three-point loss that saw them fall out of the College Football Playoff entirely. Getty ImagesThe four best shouldve looked like this: 1. Michigan. 2. Alabama. 3. Georgia. 4. Texas.
The four most deserving shouldve looked like this: 1. Michigan. 2. Washington. 3. Florida State. 4. Texas
2. Lie about injuries so you dont have a player who feels as guilty as Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis.
College football coaches already are kings of hiding injuries. And now they have more incentive to do so in the absence of NCAA-mandated injury reports (the Big Ten began requiring injury reports two hours before kickoff in 2023).
What if Florida State knowingly lied about the severity of Travis left leg injury and listed him as day-to-day, insisting there was a chance that he could return for the semifinals? Would the committee have been more likely to reward a 13-0 record rather than assume that the Seminoles cant make a competitive game with their second- or third-string quarterback after they beat No. 14 Louisville in the ACC Championship Game?
Instead, in a sport where Michigans Jim Harbaugh infamously hides his roster let alone a depth chart through training camp until he gets a Freedom of Information Act request, Florida State was penalized for the transparency of Travis announcing that he suffered a season-ending broken leg.
11Jordan Travis apologized on social media for the broken leg that ended his season and prompted Florida State’s exclusion from the Playoff. span class="credit">Getty ImagesAnd the amateur Travis is left to feel devastated and heartbroken by a billion-dollar industry.
I wish my leg broke earlier in the season so yall could see this team is much more than the quarterback, he tweeted. I thought results matter. 13-0 and this roster matches up across any team in those top 4 rankings. I am so sorry.
You cant help but wonder if blue-blood Michigan wouldve been left out if quarterback J.J. McCarthy were in the same injury situation as Travis.
3. These matchups could be the impetus for more conference realignment.
Before you say that these rankings are good for college football parity four different conference champions represented as compared to years when the Big 12 and Pac-12 were not represented so that one conference could send multiple teams remember that big changes are coming next season.
Texas is SEC-bound. Washington is Big Ten-bound. So, in a way, its the same two super conferences ruling the land.
11Quinn Ewers and Texas concluded their final year in the Big XII with a championship that catapulted them into a national semifinal against Washington. Getty ImagesThe ACC is adding SMU, Stanford and California next season. But are those three also-rans going to add any real juice?
Florida State might not be able to get into the SEC imagine Floridas objections and it doesnt fit the profile of the Big Ten because it is not a land-grant institution or a member of the American Association of Universities, but it could be worth a try if an undefeated record in the ACC is going to be ignored. Or maybe an overture to the revamped Big 12 is worth it?
Is Clemson paying attention? Let Florida States misery be your lesson.
Theres room for more teams in the 12-team bracket, but there will always be a way for controversy like the difference between No. 4 and No. 5 with a bye week at stake.
4. Non-conference scheduling matterssometimes
Texas is in the field because it played and beat Alabama, which beat Georgia. Had Alabama won that game on Sept. 9, it would be rnked No. 1 and Texas would be out.
By comparison, Georgia scheduled UT-Martin, UAB, Ball State and rival Georgia Tech in the non-conference.
But if Georgia was penalized for its schedule, then why wasnt Michigan, which started the season against East Carolina, UNLV and Bowling Green all at home and didnt face a ranked opponent until Nov. 11?
11A schedule that featured the likes of Bowling Green helped Michigan get off to a fast start even with Jim Harbaugh not on the sideline. Getty ImagesSimply because Michigan was undefeated and Georgia wasnt? Again, Florida State would like a word.
College football scheduling is more difficult than college basketball scheduling because the non-conference contracts are set years in advance instead of months, but when one team schedules Alabama and the others schedule Ball State and Bowling Green, all safely knew what they were getting into.
Food for thought: The first College Football Playoff rankings come out Week 10.But they almost always closely align with the Associated Press Top 25 and the Coaches Poll.
Those traditions arent going away. But what if they did?
Georgia and Michigan were at the top because they started there and didnt lose not because of their rsums.What if no teams were ranked until Week 10 (or later) and then they were judged just on their body of work?
5. 12 teams is too many
The more teams, the more games, the more television revenue in a money-making business.
We get it.
11Brady Cook and Missouri would have qualified for the Playoff under the expanded format starting next year. Getty ImagesBut even in a year where there was more suspense at the end than normal, only seven teams (Ohio State included) really could stake a claim as national-title contenders.
Expansion from four to 12 is four too many. Sorry, Missouri, Penn State and many others. It should be an eight-team playoff for competitive reasons (and for the drama of debates like today’s).
Today’s back page
11New York Post New York Post## Aaron Rodgers will hang over Jets top draft pick
Heres the crazy thing about what could be a season-ending 10-game losing streak for the Jets: It will put them in position to draft a quarterback high in the first round and they will have no choice but to pass.
The latest in a season-long string of abysmal offensive showings was a 13-8 loss Sunday to the Falcons that essentially should end all plans for Aaron Rodgers to return from a torn Achilles this season. Asked last week if he would play again if the Jets were out of contention, Rodgers said he doesnt think that would make a ton of sense.
11With the Jets all but out of playoff contention, Aaron Rodgers likely won’t be back on the field until next season. Corey Sipkin for the NY PostIt doesnt matter what the math says about a one percent chance of making the playoffs. The Jets, who have more first-quarter safeties than touchdowns this season, are sunk after five straight losses.
If the season ended today, the Jets would pick No. 7. For perspective, the Giants who were written off as contenders in September would pick No. 6.
But there is no reason to think that the Jets wont climb up the board possibly to as high as No. 3 no matter if Zach Wilson, Tim Boyle, Trevor Siemian, Ken OBrien, Neil ODonnell or Chad Pennington is the quarterback for the rest of the season. And when teams who are losing specifically because of their quarterback play draft that high, they usually pick a quarterback.
But Rodgers, 40, is clear that he will be back next season.
And we know from the Packers first-round pick of Jordan Love in 2020 that one thing Rodgers wont tolerate is using a draft pick on a future quarterback instead of an immediate contributor who could help him win a Super Bowl late in his career. The Jets have given Rodgers everything he wants since the moment he arrived and the draft would be a weird place to draw a line in the sand.
So, the Jets will have no choice but to pick an offensive lineman (like Penn States Olu Fashanu or Alabamas J.C. Latham) or a pass-catcher (like Ohio States Marvin Harrison Jr. or Georgias Brock Bowers) both major needs and then go back to the drawing board at quarterback in 2025 if Rodgers is retired. No Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, Jayden Daniels or any other quarterback projected to go after likely No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams in 2024 for the Jets.
11Penn State tackle Olu Fashanu might be a welcome sight in front of Rodgers next fall. Icon Sportswire via Getty ImagesIn a way, maybe thats a good thing, especially if Rodgers is going to wield his power to keep general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Sleh in place in 2024. After all, after the wasted Wilson pick at No. 2 in 2021, who wants those two anywhere near the Jets next quarterback pick?
Giants head coach Brian Daboll has a surprisingly important decision to make this week: If Tyrod Taylor is medically cleared to return from a rib-cage injury, should he reclaim the starting quarterback job that he held for the three games between Daniel Jones neck injury and his season-ending torn ACL? Or should Tommy DeVito make his fourth straight start since Taylor went down, too?
The decision is complicated by the Giants sudden position on the fringe of the playoff race, sitting two games behind the last two spots in the NFC (No. 6 Vikings and No. 7 Packers). The Giants play three teams ahead of them in the NFC the Packers on Monday night, the Saints on Dec. 17 and the Rams on Dec. 31 over the next four games.
11Tyrod Taylor went 1-1 in two starts earlier this season before being sidelined with a rib-cage injury. Getty ImagesIf the Giants are going to play the best player, its Taylor, a 13-year veteran with 56 career starts and a 62:26 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Coaches run into locker-room trouble when they play the best player at all other positions and then treat the quarterback differently. And when players are risking injuries in games where the quarterback position is holding the team back from winning. Teammates know through practice which quarterback is the best.
There are multiple teams right now that would be in a better place if they had Tyrod, top receiver Darius Slayton told The Post in September, when Jones still was healthy and Taylors presence was a luxury. Selfishly, I want him here, but hes one of 32 starters, for sure.
But if the Giants are going with the hot handor thinking about what is best for the long-term future of the franchiseor trying to appease their fansits DeVito.
By winning back-to-back starts with gutsy deep throws and avoiding turnovers to turn around a 2-8 record, plus leanng into North Jersey stereotypes of an Italian who lives at home with his parents, feasts on chicken cutlets and talks (or celebrates touchdowns) with his hands, DeVito has gained a cult following.
11Tommy DeVito not only has become a folk hero to Giants fans but also has the team within distant sight of the playoff. Charles Wenzelberg/New York PostDeVito reportedly had a line about 1,000 fans long for an autograph signing during the bye week, his jersey sales are up 1,200 percent and he received 74 percent of the vote in an informal Twitter poll asking whether he or Taylor should start.
Taylor is a free agent after the season and general manager Joe Schoen certainly didnt sound committed to re-signing him when he said the Giants would have to address the position one way or another in the offseason and there could be as much value in playing DeVito to determine whether he is a legitimate No. 2 quarterback moving forward as there is in chasing longshot playoff odds.
When the Giants signed Jones to a four-year, $160 million contract, the days of quarterback controversies were supposed to be over. Who wouldve thought that, just months later, the Giants would have a great debate that doesnt even involve Jones?
MLBs offseason champion could be crowned this week.
Usually, the offseason champion isnt the same as the World Series champion. Ask the San Diego Padres.
But the Texas Rangers changed that perception by winning the Fall Classic after back-to-back years of big spending netted Corey Seager (10 years, $325 million), Marcus Semien (seven years, $175 million), Jon Gray (four years, $56 million), Jacob deGrom (five years, $185 million) and Nathan Eovaldi (two years, $34 million).
11The Rangers’ $500 million investment in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien paid off with the franchise’s first World Series title. Getty ImagesSo, will that spur a team to break the bank and follow the Rangers blueprint? Could that team be the Yankees, who took the free-agent spending route (C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira) to their last championship in 2009?
The big storylines of the week include:
A possible Juan Soto trade.
The Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes.
The Yankees-Mets head-to-head race for Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Whether Cody Bellinger gets paid like the MVP candidate he was in 2023 or like the below-average player he was in 2021-2022.
The Post will be on site in Nashville to cover all the twists and turns and columnist Joel Sherman isnt counting out a Soto blockbuster.
What we’re reading
“Theres been an assumption, with Aaron Rodgers vowing to return in 2024, that ownership will run it all back with the same leaders and try again,” writes Mark Cannizzaro, adding, “But the way the Jets are playing now, particularly on offense, you have to wonder if theres an expiration date on that get-out-of-jail-free card.”
Florida State may have been the big loser in the College Football Playoff, but a close second, writes Zach Braziller, was Michigan, who’ll face an Alabama team that is never easy to deal with.
The bidding for Shohei Ohtani is already heating up, with a few bids for more than $500 million already, and Jon Heyman has heard the final number culd approach $600 million.
Damian Lillard said a big part of his motivation for the In-Season Tournament is to win for his lesser-compensated teammates and other team personnel. Jalen Brunson agrees, notes Zach Braziller.
The Mets may have added Luis Severino last week, but that doesn’t mean adding more starting pitching isn’t at the top of the Mets’ wish list at this week’s winter meetings, according to Mike Puma.
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