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College Football Playoff: First Rankings Show Blatant SEC Bias

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With the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings on this past Tuesday, one thing that can clearly be gleaned from it is the committee’s blatant bias towards the Southeastern Conference.

The first CFP rankings that have defending national champion Alabama No.1, Michigan No.2, national champion runner-up Clemson No.3 and Texas A&M No.4 caused a lot of controversy over the inclusion of a second SEC team.

Now while may consider such a statement as “hating” towards the Southeastern Conference, and not giving the Aggies their due, but to many outside of Dixie, it’s just another example of the Worldwide Leader in Sports unapologetically showing their love for the SEC.

How you might ask?

Thanks to their multi-million 15-year deal with the SEC to produce shows such as ‘SECStoried’, their own dedicated SEC Network channel and regular contributors such as SEC alumnus in uber-apologist and super-homer Paul Finebaum (Tennessee), David Pollack (Georgia), Marcus Spears (LSU) and Tim Tebow (Florida), there is a reason why many non-SEC fans refer to the network as ESECPN, or a loose variation of it.

Their first CFP rankings that had A&M over the likes of Louisville, Ohio State and an undefeated Washington team only confirmed that reputation.

So how and why is A&M ahead of an 8-0 Washington team?

At 7-1, A&M has beaten No.16 UCLA, No.17 Arkansas, No.9 Tennessee and lost to the forementioned Crimson Tide, 33-14. So for A&M, they have beaten three ranked teams, two from their own stacked conference and one from outside of it in a suddenly resurgent PAC-12.

A&M also finishes with three straight home games at an always-dangerous Chad Kelly-led Ole Miss, a warm-up with Conference USA cupcake, University of Texas-San Antonio and a fierce rivalry game against No.13 LSU.

That alone while playing in the SEC, many feel is why they were ranked No.4, which is basically a built-in and unfair advantage to others.

Who has Washington played and beaten? Let’s see

The under-the-radar Huskies destroyed the visiting conference champion in the seventh-ranked Stanford Cardinal, 44-6, and won on the road against an always-tough No.17-ranked Utah Utes squad, 31-24. The Huskies finish up on the road at Cal, two straight home games vs. USC and Arizona State before heading east to Pullman to face their hated rivals in No.25 Washington State in the Apple Cup.

One minor scheduling quirk that could come back to bite—or help—the Huskies is that due to the PAC-12 now being split into two divisions, Washington missed UCLA—who already lost to A&M, and would have been a common opponent for both teams—and got the Trojans instead.

As stated before—and unfortunately for Washington—they don’t the luxury that A&M has in being a part of the most hyped and overrated conference in modern time. Think about this for a second, if A&M were still part of the Big 12, would they get a pass from the committee and still be ranked over an undefeated team such as Washington?

It is another sign of bias and perhaps THE main reason why non-SEC fans are in such arms over how and—most importantly why—a one-loss SEC team is No.4 in the CFP rankings over an undefeated team from another Power 5 conference.

In what is a truly brilliant written article from Amy Daughters from FBSchedules.com titled, “Is Texas A&M’s schedule tougher than Washington’s?Daughters lays out the Huskies case and argument in such a succinct manner that it is a damned shame that members of the selection committee didn’t read it until after the fact.

Perhaps the best statement from her column, Daughters states that the Huskies closing schedule is tougher than A&M’s;

“The only advantage for the Aggies is that LSU is ranked higher than Washington State. Of course, this could all change by season’s end, especially with the Tigers hosting the Crimson Tide this weekend.

Overall, the message is clear – Washington’s finishing schedule is more difficult than A&M’s.

Beyond that, the Huskies will get a huge bump if they win the North and go on to beat the champion of the South in the Pac-12 title game. It would give them 11 wins over Power 5 teams, and more than likely earn them another ranked opponent. This vs. the Aggies’ cap of only nine such games. The only way they play in the SEC Championship is if Alabama loses two of its final four games.”

Daughters closes her case by stating the obvious in the fact that Washington—not Texas A&M—will more than likely be playing for the PAC-12 title, while A&M will likely be not;

“So, while the committee might have gotten it right this week – if both teams win out it’s reasonable to think that Washington will regain an edge and a spot in the bracket over Texas A&M.

Especially if the Huskies have just won a Power 5 conference title while the Aggies sit home.”

While I respectfully disagree with Ms. Daughters statement per the above, there is no denying the logical and statistical use of numbers to make her point.

As we are heading into the last third of what will be an exciting regular-season finish, hopefully the CFP selection committee can see the forest for the trees and not be blinded by their Dixie-tinted eyeglasses before it’s too late.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]