A wise man wrote last July, "The
Wait, that was me!
The first playoff season is off to a beautiful-mess start, with the 12-person selection committee trying to white-water raft through a confluence of contradictions.
The Pac-12 Conference, which couldn't catch a cold in 16 years of the Southern-fried Bowl Championship Series, has caught the attention of experts who appear to be paying attention.
The committee has the task of resolving several free-flowing anomalies:
• Texas Christian and
• The selection committee also must award a major bowl bid to the highest ranked champion of a "Group of 5" conference. Those are the five other leagues playing major college football. The contract wording of "champion" may put the committee in a bind. The best team may end up being one-loss
The committee has no "Group of 5" school ranked, and that's a snub to Marshall, which is undefeated but plays no games against schools from a Power 5 conference. A San Diego State victory at Boise State this week would allow an avenue for Colorado State to emerge in next week's ranking. Otherwise, the committee may just have to hold its nose and pick a Marshall team from outside its ranking.
The newfound respect for the Pac-12 is by far the biggest story of the first playoff season.
Left-coast conspiracy theories held for years that the BCS system was rigged against the Pac-12 — which may have been true.
Oregon rose to No. 2 in this week's College Football Playoff rankings while lingering at No. 4 in simulated BCS standings. More staggering is the gap between Pac-12 schools in the playoff rankings and the USA Today coaches' poll. The five Pac-12 schools in this week's top-25 playoff rankings are 17 total positions higher than they are in the coaches' poll.
The breakdown: Oregon, No. 2 by CFP, No. 4 by coaches; Arizona State, 6 vs. 8; UCLA, 11 vs. 15;
One reason the Pac-12 is getting a fairer shake: Committee members, unlike pollsters, are supplied edited video copies of all Pac-12 games, no matter how late they are played on a Saturday night.
So here's an update for conspiracy theorists: Maybe the deck is now stacked in favor of the Pac-12. Look at all these committee members with West Coast connections:
• Pat Haden is athletic director at
• Tyrone Willingham is a former coach at Stanford,
• Tom Jernstedt, a former NCAA executive vice president, received his bachelor's and master's degrees at Oregon.
• Michael Tranghese is not just the highly respected former commissioner of the
And while the selection committee chairman,
As this new pendulum swings toward the Pac, the rest of college football may want to send Manning a Hallmark card: Get well soon.