LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Two years ago on this exact date, Ohio State and Washington were playing in the College Football Playoff.
They lost their games by a combined 48 points to Alabama and Clemson as the Tide and Tigers went on to the national championship game.
Since that point, not only have Ohio State and Washington both not been back to the College Football Playoff, but the entirety of the Big Ten and PAC-12 conferences have not been back to the playoff the past two seasons.
While the PAC-12 may have been left out the past two seasons due to an overall lack of wins, the Big Ten has a legitimate gripe for being left out of the playoff as Ohio State has gone 23-3 over the past two seasons with back-to-back Big Ten titles and have not made the playoff either year.
Last season, the committee eschewed a two-loss conference champion Ohio State team in favor of a one-loss non-conference champion Alabama team who lost their final game of the regular season by double digits. Alabama went on to win the national championship.
This season, the committee voted in favor of an Oklahoma team that had given up an average of 47 PPG in the month of November instead of an Ohio State team that had two better wins than the best win Oklahoma had on its schedule. Oklahoma fell down 28-0 to Alabama early in this year’s College Football Playoff semifinal and the Tide held on to advance to the national championship yet again.
Urban Meyer knows that his team probably should’ve gotten in the playoff at least one of the past two seasons. He won’t tell you that publicly, but I think it’s fair to assume that’s how he feels.
I asked Urban Meyer about if there’s a systemic problem with the playoff that the Big Ten has been left out for the past two seasons.
“I have strong opinions about all those things,” said Meyer. “I haven’t had the time to really research it, so I’m cautious about how I say those things.”
Urban Meyer went into a little bit of detail on how he feels about the playoff, but you can tell that there’s much more he would like to say about the whole ordeal.
“I would like them to review again on what are their principles to get you in. You know, was it that terrible loss that we had? And we’ve had some bad losses and that’s our fault. Don’t lose a game and you’re in the playoff.”
I know that Ohio State had a terrible loss to Purdue this season that ended up being what kept Ohio State out of the playoff and Urban Meyer knows that too, but should a single loss be valued more than three high-quality wins? Should we value a 29-point loss on an off-night in West Lafayette more than a 62-point performance against the No. 1 defense in the country in the last game of the regular season?
Urban Meyer tends to lean towards taking personal responsibility for not making the playoff over playing the victim card, at least publicly.
“I try to live under the premise that B.C.D. is Blame, Complain and Defend, and that’s something that we permeate through our program is that don’t lose a game then,” said Meyer. “You know, it’s very simple. You want to get to the playoff? Then, don’t lose a game.”
It’s easy to say that if you simply win all your games, you’re in the playoff, but it’s not as easily done. Just look at UCF. They’ve gone undefeated the past two seasons and they haven’t even sniffed the playoff. Granted, they don’t play in a Power 5 conference so there’s some justification there, but take Notre Dame this season for example. They wen’t 12-0 in the regular season but they don’t play in a conference and they don’t play a 13th game like conference champions who also make the playoffs have to do. One could easily argue that one-loss conference champion Ohio State easily should’ve been in over the Irish. Even two-loss non-conference champion Georgia would’ve put up a much better fight against Clemson.
The selection process is muddled and the criteria is constantly changing. That is a major problem when you have five power conferences and only four playoff spots, and Urban Meyer has very strong feelings on the criteria.
“Now, are there other problems on strength of schedule, some teams playing nine league games and some teams don’t, a variety of things,” said Meyer. “But that’s not a conversation within our team. It’s really not a conversation anywhere [within our program], except maybe our athletic director and I, in passing, will chat about it.”
Meyer did say he believes that the playoff committee has a tough job and that Ohio State has both benefitted and been hurt by the playoff system.
“No one’s ever really asked my opinion in that room, the committee room, and I don’t imagine they will,” said Meyer. “I think [the playoff committee] is faced with an extremely tough decision. We’ve been on the bubble every year and one time we got in in ’14 and ’16 we got in and the last two years we did not after winning our conference. So, very strong opinions but just not educated enough on everything that goes on.”
Whether Ohio State would’ve actually beaten Alabama or Clemson this year is definitely questionable, but after being left out last season, this season the Buckeyes probably should’ve at least gotten a shot.
Instead of having the opportunity to compete for a fourth national title, Urban Meyer will ride out into the California sunset as Ohio State will play in the Rose Bowl Game for his final game as a collegiate head coach.
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