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Playoff Selection Committee has tough final choices

Late Sunday morning the Playoff Selection Committee will announce Alabama football as the No. 1 seed in the final four. The other slots will not be so easy.

Sunday will not be an anxious day for Alabama football fans. The undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide will be seeded No. 1 in final rankings released by the Playoff Selection Committee. Clemson fans also have no reason to sweat as the Tigers will be No. 2.

It gets tougher after those first two picks. The fanbases of three schools, Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State will have an anxious Sunday morning.

As tough as it will be on fans, the Selection Committee has even more reason to be nervous. The four years of the CFB Playoff selections have been filled with drama. There have been aggrieved schools left out every year. But most college football experts, not clouded by a specific team allegiance, believe the Committee has successfully picked the four best teams each season.

The Committee has a largely thankless task. It must maintain objectivity while making its decisions based on known standards. There is considerable debate over what those standards are and more contentiousness, over what they should be.

In reality, the Committee has a single purpose. Each year it is to select the best four teams to play for a national championship. Conference commissioners may wish it otherwise but conference championships are only one of many data points.

This season there could be three Power Five conference champions not in the final four. To make matters more complicated, there could even be a two-loss team. The other wrinkle guaranteed to create alarm will be a debate over whether undefeated Notre Dame deserves the slot it will be given, despite not playing a 13th game.

The situation is ripe for widespread dissatisfaction.

Who is sure to be in?

Alabama football will be No. 1, followed by Clemson at No. 2. Undefeated Notre Dame will be in despite some doubt the Irish are one of CFB’s best four teams. Notre Dame will be No. 3 or No. 4.

Who gets the fourth slot?

If the committee chooses Oklahoma or Ohio State, Notre Dame will stay at No. 3. But if the committee takes the bold position of deciding two-loss Georgia is one of the four best, the Committee will have a lot of explaining to do.

The Committee took considerable heat last season, picking two SEC schools. If they take two again, one being two-loss Georgia – the backlash from the Big 12 and the B1G will swell into louder demands for an expanded field.

Who deserves to be in?

Alabama football, Clemson and Georgia are three of the four best teams. Good arguments can be made for each of the other three but none of them are clearly the fourth best team.

Will the Committee be comfortable with an Alabama football vs. Georgia rematch in one semi-final? Kirby said the Tide does not want Georgia again. Nick said the same thing. FWIW, the Irish, Sooners and Buckeyes should not want the Bulldogs either.

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With all the dissatisfaction this season’s selections will bring, we will add another. Alabama football having to beat Georgia again in a semi-final, while Clemson waltzes past the Irish – I call that unfair.

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