JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In the end, college football's overlords act like college football's overlords always do.
They jump over themselves to reward the blue bloods — logic, reason and good sense be damned. It turns out it doesn't matter if it's the old, over-bloated NCAA or this new College Football Playoff selection committee, it pays big to be a traditional power. The more history and money on your side the better.
The reason Ohio State's in this inaugural four-team College Football Playoff over TCU and Baylor could not be more simple. They are Ohio State and TCU and Baylor are not.
Screw the up and comers. Screw the fans.
And really that's what this ridiculous, botched mess of a selection does. It doesn't just rob TCU and its great comeback quarterback story Trevone Boykin of a rightful place in the playoff. (Sorry Art Briles, it is America and TCU's still the better team.) It denies college football fans the chance to see a more compelling semifinal.
You know this thing is messed up when you're pining for the return of those computers.
Do you really think anyone outside the state of Ohio has been jonesing for an Alabama-Ohio State matchup? This isn't 2003. It's 2014 and the Big Ten is still an inferior conference. At least the NCAA Tournament leaders know to make the worst semifinal the first game of the night (Oregon-Florida State is by far the more compelling game).
Ohio State has the worst loss by far of all the Top Six and it's somehow gifted a spot in the playoff in a year when absolutely no one fears the Big Ten. It's lunacy. So much for taking the whole body of work into consideration. So much for fairness.
College football makes true upward mobility but a dream.
If either TCU or Baylor had Ohio State's tradition — and its high-profile media defenders — they'd be in this College Football Playoff. ESPN's resident Buckeye honk Kirk Herbstreit has been steadily laying the foundation for the dubious case of Urban Meyer's team all season long. And he shifted into overdrive after the Buckeyes 59-0 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game Saturday night.
Never mind that Wisconsin is a flawed team that lost to an ordinary LSU one and a bad Northwestern one this season. Never mind that TCU's only loss came to a fellow Top 6 team and that loss to Baylor was something of a fluke (after being dominated, the Bears pulled off a miracle rally).
None of that matters as long as the selection committee can reward one of college football's blue bloods.
College Football's Sorry Playoff
It's a sad way to decide a national championship. And in some ways, it's worse than the old two team system. At least, Alabama vs. Oregon would have been a great title game. You know this thing is messed up when you're pining for the return of those computers.
Where's logic and consistency?
TCU goes into Saturday as the rightful No. 3 team, wins its game by 52 points . . . and plummets all the way to sixth when the final standings come out Sunday afternoon. Why are the Horned Frogs suddenly behind the Baylor and Ohio State teams they were ahead of for weeks?
The committee showed absolutely no respect for the Big Ten all year (rightly so) until they needed to in order to meet an agenda.
Committee chairman Jeff Long deserves a berth in the U.S. Gymnastics Trials for how much he twisted his positions to try and make the abrupt reversals make sense.
"Ohio State was decisive in its No. 4 ranking," Long insists for the TV audience watching the selection show.
The Buckeyes are suddenly "decisive" because they took apart a suspect Wisconsin team? Please. The committee showed absolutely no respect for the Big Ten all year (rightly so) until they needed to in order to meet an agenda.
The only thing decisive is the selection committee's desire to honor a tired power tradition and the Big Ten conference. TCU and Baylor didn't hurt themselves. The system failed them.
The fans here in Florida — watching the Texans and Jaguars — crowd around concourse TV screens for the selections about a half hour before the NFL's opening kickoff. These fans walk to their seats happy because Florida State not only is in, but in the bracket where they don't have to play Alabama in the semis. But there's little cause for joy around the country.
College football is still a messed up oligarchy. It doesn't really matter what you do today. It matters what you did 20 years ago. There's your college football playoff.