By this time next month, almost every conference in the Football Bowl Subdivision will be playing football. I say almost because while the Big Ten will have just played its first weekend slate (October 24), the Pac-12 will still be a full TWO WEEKS out till their first weekend of games. Notre Dame will be on their 7th game of the season, Clemson, by the time rival USC kickoffs their opener. This is all to say, there are going to be those in the media who will be drumming up support to have the Pac-12 in discussion for inclusive in the College Football Playoff this season. Those people are charlatans and snake oil salesmen, we must arm ourselves to call them out and I am here to help you.
Here is Kirk Herbstreit’s quote from College Game Day from over the weekend:
“But, for argument’s sake: If you get to seven games in the Pac-12 and let’s say Oregon or USC is winning and looking really good while doing it, then they’re going to have a case,” Herbstreit said. “Who’s to say they shouldn’t have a case if there’s a team that as a champion that is 7-0 and looks good — what’s the difference between them and taking them as realistic as an option vs. a Big Ten team? … It’s going to be a very small margin, but I don’t think we should dismiss them before we even get started.”
Excuse me but what was that? What’s the difference between them and a Big Ten team? Two games. Now that it’s not a matter of finding reasons to slander Notre Dame, we can just throw out the idea of the number of games you play, having an impact on playoff inclusion huh? Since 2014, we’ve heard various talking heads around the country belabor the notion that a team needs that mystical “Thirteen Data Point”. As if a game against the Citadel is akin to some Viking’s needing Antonio Banderas help to defeat the Wendol.
It’s not just the Irish slander angle that has me fired up on this issue, 8 games is not remotely a viable amount sample size to judge a team. How do I know this you may ask? Because I watch the flippin’ sport and I’ll be goddamned if there isn’t at least one team every year that starts off 7-0/8-0 and falls off a cliff by seasons end. Why, I’m old enough to remember the first college football playoff standings:
They sure as hell didn’t get it right. Mississippi State went on to finish 1-3 in their last four games, including getting totally waxed by Paul Johnson’s Rambling Wreck in the Orange Bowl, 49-34. Auburn only beat one more team since the rankings were released, Samford, finishing the year 8-5. And hotty toddy gosh almighty, Ole Miss got blanked by Arkansas 30-0 — and they needed a Dino Babers special against TCU in the Peach Bowl to keep from getting shutout again.
Let’s pretend for a minute that Notre Dame beats Clemson on November 7th but then loses the rematch in the ACC title game. The SEC puts forth an 11-0 Alabama, the B1G a 10-0 Ohio State and Clemson at 11-1, by virtue of winning the ACC championship. That fourth spot then could go to one of the following:
- 10-1 Oklahoma who lost to a bad K-State and fields an NBA All-Star game defense.
- 11-1 Notre Dame that beat Clemson.
- 8-0 Oregon from a conference that featured no other teams ranked upon the AP polls reintroduction of Pac-12 and B1G teams.
The gift that was Oklahoma shitting the bed against Kansas State as now all the more bitter sweet. It removes the B1G’s impact on jumping back into the fray. The Pac-12 will be arguing that 7+1 = 11 and Oregon getting in over Notre Dame in this scenario would elicit a primal reaction of unbridled rage within me. If I was a Saiyan, such a moment might be what pushes me to achieve Super Saiyan status. I’ve already begun steeling myself to by remembering back to the dark place that was November 2018 college football punditry . Remember when the first game of the season didn’t matter and a team with two losses was more deserving than one with none?
But of course a lot of this conjuncture is going to end up a moot point, and I’m not talking about Notre Dame splitting against Clemson. Since Michael Dyer wasn’t down in the title game of the 2010 season, no Pac-12 team has finished a conference schedule unblemished. In fact, in this century, only that 2010 Oregon team and USC’s 2004/2005 squads finished undefeated in conference play. Furthermore, Brian Kelly has posted as many 1 loss seasons in his ten years at Notre Dame as the entire Pac-12 conference in that same period.