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Ohio State: CFP system keeps putting Buckeyes in bizarre situations

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Ohio State came up short of the College Football Playoff after winning the Big Ten. (Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports)

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Ohio State: CFP system keeps putting Buckeyes in bizarre situations

COLUMBUS — Maybe Ohio State wasn’t snubbed.

Perhaps it’s egregious that the Big Ten champion continues to get locked out of the College Football Playoff.

The math that projects the Buckeyes in the four-team field could be fuzzy. Or the protocol might be subjectively applied. Or the losses are too much to ignore instead of the quality wins.

Whatever it is, Ohio State is always in the middle of the controversy when the selection committee officially sends out its invitations. Sometimes it works in its favor, at other times the program is punished — and truthfully, being in the mix is obviously preferable to having no interest in Selection Sunday.

But at some point, the Buckeyes and the Big Ten need to have some serious conversations about a system that might never be perfect but is clearly not the best way to build a national-championship bracket. For years, expansion has been resisted, and the reasoning behind that was fine if adding more games would put the athletes at risk. But protecting the bowl system in order to keep this flawed selection process that wound up being decided by 10 human voters is absolutely insane.

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Ohio State and wide receiver Terry McLaurin are heading to the Rose Bowl. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Conference championships are important? Explain both Notre Dame and Georgia finishing ahead of Ohio State.

Strength of schedule is valuable? Doesn’t make a lot of sense to put Alabama ahead of the Buckeyes last year, then.

Eye test? The 2015 Buckeyes were one of the most loaded teams of the decade, but that wasn’t enough to convince the committee either.

Obviously Ohio State benefitted from a final-week leap in 2014, and it was awarded entry two years later as one of those rare teams granted “unequivocal” status to compensate for not winning the Big Ten that year. But whether it’s positive or negative for the Buckeyes doesn’t make any difference, because it’s the absurd debates that are sinking the credibility of a system that wasn’t big enough in the first place to accommodate five power conferences trying to fill four slots.

League championships are hard to win. They’re valuable for the bragging rights against the teams that measure themselves against each other every year. And there was good reason for Ohio State to make its mission to get to Indianapolis to defend the Big Ten crown rather than relying on the subjective selection committee to compete for a national championship.

Some will point to the blowout loss at Purdue and the fact that Ohio State could have controlled its fate on the field. The same topic came up last year with the debacle at Iowa. That’s fine, but that’s also an opinion that a team’s loss is more important than who it beats and quality wins, which is a weird way of evaluating what it would be capable of against elite competition.

That’s a problem. But it’s only one of them in a broken system.

And year after year, Ohio State is the one exposing the issues — both for good and bad.

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John Rhodes
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John Rhodes

The selection committee has a published selection criteria to be followed by the committee when selecting playoff teams, 1-Cofrence championship 2-strength of schedule 3-head to head record 4-record against common opponents.
There is no mention of “eye test” nor is there any mention of record or bad loss! Clearly, according to the published selection criteria, Ohio State has been slighted!
Sorry, but ND AND Georgia get no consideration! Either follow your established guidelines or change them!

Kid Buckeye
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Kid Buckeye

First thing they have to have CFP teams from a conference. This ND thing is the major screw up in this system.
Join a conference or saty home. Is the CFP running CF or is it ND?

Brunstar
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Brunstar

Time to investigate ESPiN and the CFP committee. The only 2 conferences to never miss a playoff are the ACC and SEC. Both conferences have network partnerships exclusively with ESPiN. Time to get the Fed involved.

Jeff
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Jeff

Southern bias alive and well in 2018, sad world we live in.

James Wars
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James Wars

Something has to change. This is getting silly.

Joyce
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Joyce

I believe that the answer is mandatory criteria. League championship, strength of schedule, playing the same number of power 5 teams, Fai, sos, sop….. I also this four is enough.

Buckeye Phan
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Buckeye Phan

This committee is a joke. The responses we get from them differ by the day, week and year. Can’t we get this figured out without hurting the poor bowls feelings. Your column does a great job of summarizing these issues. The sooner this goes to 6 or 8 teams the better off all of college football and it’s fans will be.

JEff
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JEff

If it were 6 or 8 teams, Espin would push for 3-4 slots for SEC so it doesn’t solve anything.

David
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David

If you went to 6 teams, you’d have a spot for all 5 conference champs and 1 at large bid – selected by the committee. The committee could seed the teams, but the at large spot would have to be a 6 seed. You could have 6 v 3 and 5 v 4. After that week, the committee could re-seed the teams.

Brian
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Brian

Let’s leave the committee out of it. Use a mathematical BCS system or just AP rankings… but dissolve the committee, obviously the human element with too few voters causes changing metrics years to years. The Browns last got to the playoffs with an 8-8 record, but no one argue they didn’t deserve it because MATH told us they did.

216tothe614
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216tothe614

We finished behind a 2 loss Stanford team in 2015 because they won their conference title. We were behind a 2 loss Georgia team this year despite winning our conference title. Eliminate the committee and use the BCS system for the 4 team playoff.

Ace
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Ace

We can’t lose to a bad 6-6 team by 29 points, struggle against ordinary teams and expect to play for the National Championship.

John
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John

There is nothing in the published selection criteria about bad loss, close win,, eye test or even record.
1-cofrence championship 2-strength of schedule 3-head to head 4-record against common opposition and no regard to point differential. Change the rules or change the format.

Sir Miles
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Sir Miles

Osu doesn’t have a real gripe, neither last year or this, the committee didn’t put them in that position, osu did, don’t get beat by crappy or average teams, and for certain, don’t get blasted by crappy teams. That’s soley on osu, not the selection committee. Osu played well enough for the entire year to jump the BIG’s champion, PSU albeit a two loss champion, who didn’t deserve to get in, with respect to it’s two losses, just like osu didn’t deserve to get in with it’s two losses last year. Play well all year, have no more than one… Read more »

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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