College Football Playoff committee chair Jeff Long is openly appointing teams to the inaugural playoff by justifiably making the rules up as he, and the rest of the committee, proceed.
Long, who is also University of Arkansas's Athletic Director, made headlines by discussing the controversially subjective, puzzling, and ESPN-created "Game Control" criteria, which Long assures has always been part of the discussion amongst committee members and the selection process, and denies the claim the 4-Letter Network has any influence over the conversations.
During last night's broadcast, Long rationalized why Mississippi State is still considered in the playoff race by ranking the Bulldogs no. 4 in the nation even after losing to Alabama 25-20 November 15th.
Long stated, "(Mississippi State) do have wins over teams who were previously in the Top-25. The committee takes that into account. They view those teams as when they were played and when those games were played.”
In other words, Mississippi State defeated teams while they were in the Top-25, but those same schools are no longer in the Top-25. The Bulldogs defeated LSU while the Tigers were ranked no. 8, Texas A&M while the Aggies were no. 6, and Auburn while the Tigers were no. 2. Out of the three, only Auburn remains in the Top-15.
There is nothing wrong with this bit of logic. Inflated preseason rankings and the ambiguity of which team(s) will preform early in the season isn't the committee's fault. After the Aggies lambasted the then no. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks 52-28, pundits were ready to crown Texas A&M National Champs.
Since then, both the Aggies and Gamecocks have been a major disappointment.
One would suppose the committee would be more consistent with it's explanation as to the barometer set in choosing which schools make the Top-4, but conflicting explanations have irritated most fan bases.
On November 11th, Long clarified why undefeated Florida State dropped in the rankings by seeding the Seminoles no. 3, allowing one-loss Oregon to leap FSU and causing a ruckus amid the Seminole faithful.
“Oregon has three (current) Top-25 victories. Florida State only has two,” proclaimed Long during the November 11th ESPN broadcast.
Fair explanation, except it contradicts Long's present thoughts.
The committee didn't take into account Louisville, who was ranked 25th when Florida State defeated the Cardinals 42-31 in Louisville on Thursday night. Since then, Louisville has worked its way back into the Top-25.
Oregon lost 31-24 at home to a then unranked Arizona team. According to Long's logic, the loss should go against the Ducks.
Why is it agreeable to forgive Mississippi State's "no-longer-in-the-Top-25" wins, but Florida State's vacant Top-25 wins, such as Notre Dame, go against them? Why did the narrative change from November 11th to today? What happened?
The Seminoles currently hold victories over two current Top-25 teams. Alabama and Mississippi State, the present and past no. 1 seeds, have two. Combined ('Bama's victory over Mississippi State and Mississippi State's victory over Auburn). Long hasn't mentioned inequalities between Power-5 conferences, so the "SEC is a superior conference" excuse has yet to be offered, and the defense cannot be used until differing weights are applied to each conference.
So which criteria is the one being given? The originally accepted, "It must be a current Top-25 win to hold credence," or the SEC popular, "A Top-25 win is a Top-25 win no matter when it was played?"
The rules and regulations constantly altering and changing gives off the impression the committee is being swayed and aren't deemed reliable.
Is TCU and Baylor nipping at the heels of the no. 4 seed the reason for the change of heart? Is Florida State, as polarizing as they are, who're forced to wear the black hat, the reason for the imbalance in the selection committee's methods?
For all the faults of the BCS, the process was objective and there were clear standards set in place. The obvious solution is to use the BCS formula and have the Top-4 battle it out.
But there's no bias and leverage in that sort of sensible thinking.