While the manner in which Ohio State Buckeyes and their 3rd string quarterback Cardale Jones dismantled the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship game could have technically made the difference in putting OSU over the top and into the College Football Playoff, let’s make no mistake about it: Ohio State was given a spot in the playoff because they are the more reputable program and will draw the most viewers.
I strongly feel that if Ohio State met up against either Texas Christian University or Baylor, they would lose the game, but this apparently doesn’t matter for the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. Picking either TCU or Baylor would have led to great controversy, given that both teams had just one loss and were playing great football. For me, TCU should have been given a chance since their only loss was to the top-5 team, Baylor. In fact, that loss was to a higher ranked team than both Oregon and Alabama, who are both in the playoff. Then again, if TCU were allowed in we would have to hear the endless whining by Baylor since they beat TCU earlier in the year. But their loss was to a 7-5 West Virginia. Meanwhile, Ohio State lost to a Virginia Tech team that ended 6-6, without a winning record and barely bowl eligible.
And so while football reasons marginally suggest TCU should be in the playoff, let’s take a look at one of the truly decisive factors: school population size. Doesn’t the NCAA have a habit of trying to make as much money as possible? Wouldn’t it likely be more profitable if a larger school with more of a college football history were present in the playoff? OSU has one of the largest undergraduate student bodies in America with around 44,000 enrolled. Baylor follows with 13,000. TCU is behind them with just 8,500. Wouldn’t it make sense to gift the playoff berth to a school with 3 or 4 times as many alumni as the others? Also factor in the population of Ohio, the supportive family members of these students, and the many people who support the program without any direct association and it’s obvious that OSU provides the bigger draw. Interestingly enough, the final rankings follow suit with the schools’ sizes. Had a larger Big 12 school like Texas or Oklahoma finished with just one loss, you had better believe they would be involved in the playoff!
Ohio State also has a proud history of 14 National Titles. TCU actually has 2 of their own but none since 1938! Baylor has never won. When the playoff boasts a game like Ohio State vs. Alabama for the semifinal, more people will watch than Alabama vs. TCU or Baylor. Additionally, it keeps the American South to just 2 teams and gives the Midwest part of the country a team to cheer for. In essence, it looks nicer on the map, and it will allow the NCAA to charge more money for TV advertisements and other methods of income that the institution repeatedly capitalizes on. Who cares if college football is again embroiled in a national championship controversy; the NCAA will get top dollar for this final four.
But this argument is largely moot because Alabama would have beaten any team they were paired up against. Sure, Ohio State’s coach Urban Meyer might get his team prepared, but they will definitely be beaten soundly. And so maybe the whole idea of the playoff is righteous after all. Arguing over the 4th best team in the country isn’t quite like fighting over who’s 2nd. However it plays out, the best team in the country is likely to be Alabama, Oregon, or Florida State. Would one of the exciting Texan teams been able to shake up another year of major, traditional (and boring) football programs winning the title? We’ll never know…