Tag Archives: Clemson Football

The New Era of College Football: The Haves Trump The Have-Nots

The evolution of college football has created a new reality. Thanks to the college football arms race in facilities, fan support, and money as well as the nascent playoff system, there are two types of college football programs:

  1. Those that have a chance to win a national championship
  2. Those that have no chance to win a national championship

There is no migration between the types of programs. You either have a chance to win it all or you don’t. The rich teams get richer, everyone else treads water or drowns.

While there are two types of college football programs, there are three types of college football fans:

  1. Those fans who correctly recognize that their teams have a chance win a national championship
  2. Those fans who correctly realize their teams have no chance to win a national    championship
  3. Those fans who incorrectly believe their team has a chance to win the national championship, when in reality, they have no chance.

No convinced? Take a look at the following videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVC3UziHeGk and this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU4NXtu2T5E.

These are, theoretically, facilities for college students. But we all know what these really are. Recruiting tools to draw top athletes to Texas and Texas A&M. These are “in-kind” payments to players who are ostensibly amateur athletes.

I have no doubt that the other programs with a chance to win a national championship have (or will soon have) facilities on par if not better than these. We all know the names of these programs – Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Ohio St, Michigan, Clemson, Florida State, & Oklahoma. You could probably add Oregon, Tennessee, Notre Dame and a small handful of other programs to this list, but that’s it. No other programs have a chance.

It is not shocking for fans of programs like Virginia, Wake Forest, Duke, Boston College, Vandy, Kansas, and Northwestern that they have zero chance to win a national championship…ever. I think the fans of these programs understand that they will never have facilities like Texas or Texas A&M. They will never compromise their integrity to the extent that the contending programs must to get the numbers of top players needed to compete for a national championship. Fans from these programs and many more like them realize their role in the world of college football. They are fodder for the teams with a chance to win it all. They can have successful seasons and win bowl games, but they will never hoist the national championship trophy. Maybe that’s okay. The point of college, after all, is to educate young minds, not win national championships. College athletics is supposed to be entertaining, so if you recognize your place and revel in reaching the heights of success within the boundaries of your possibilities, college football is a great deal of fun.

What might be shocking to the vast majority of the fans of programs not listed above, is that their teams also have no chance to win a national championship. None, zero, zilch, nada… they just don’t realize it. Many programs fit this description…we can all name these programs with perpetually frustrated fans who mistakenly think they are on the cusp of breaking into the top tier of college programs – Virginia Tech, NC State, UNC, West Virginia, Michigan State, South Carolina, TCU, Baylor, Arizona, Missouri, Maryland, Iowa, Kansas St, and Arkansas among many others, have no chance to win a national championship. Unfortunately, their fans think they do.

Think about how excited fans of these programs are when they land a big-time recruit. A 5-star or high 4-star kid who is a “can’t miss” prospect. There are high-fives all around and dreams of winning the college football playoff. The sad reality is, the teams that have a real chance to win it all, get at least a half a dozen of these players – every year. Not one per year or every other year like the wannabe programs. So the teams with a real chance to win it all have 30 or more can’t-miss players on their teams. The wannabe teams might have 5.

None of this is lost on the best coaches in the industry either. Do you think Nick Saban is going to leave Alabama to coach Northwestern anytime soon? Urban Meyer going to Wake Forest? Which programs have huge donor bases that make space-age locker rooms possible? (hint: it’s not Duke and it’s not Virginia…nor NC State or West Virginia) The best coaches go to the programs with the biggest donor bases that pay the biggest salaries & fund the best facilities, which draw the best talent…and so the cycles continues.

Like gambling in Vegas, the college football game is rigged. Over the course of any season, there will be exciting times when wannabe teams beat the odds and score big upsets. But over the course of a full season (including the playoffs), a single wannabe program cannot beat the system. There are too many 30+ mega-recruit teams out there, getting better every day and one of those teams will win the national championship every time. It’s why house wins over time in Vegas. The swanky trappings of the Bellagio are not there because gamblers go home winners. The odds favor the house, so it always wins. The system favors the top programs, so they will always win.

As we begin the 2017 college football season, we could create a list of 18-20 programs with a chance to win it all. It would be the same list from 2016. The participants in the football championship will be from that list – with no chance for an upstart to crash the party. It’s like the list to get into the VIP section of a popular night club. Not on the list? Not getting in.

The downside of this could be that as more college football fans realize the game is rigged against them, fans will lose interest and the game’s popularity could begin to fade. Then again, Las Vegas doesn’t seem to be losing its steam and state lotteries continue to be wildly popular. Maybe the fans of the wannabe programs understand their fate better than they let on. Maybe they are like the lottery players, thinking that someone is going to win this jackpot, if I buy a ticket it might be me, so every season, misplaced hope springs eternal. Unfortunately, the odds of winning the Powerball are better than their team winning the national championship.

E-mail David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @dmrayner.

The Big 10 Will get two Teams in Playoff

The last college football playoff rankings  before championship weekend were released Tuesday night, and the results were pretty much as expected.

After falling to #2 Ohio State in Columbus, Michigan fell from #3 last week to #5. This opened the door for Washington to move into the fourth and final spot in the college football playoff. Alabama obviously remained at #1 after remaining undefeated with a win in the Iron Bowl. Ohio State, after a victory over yet another top-ten opponent remained firmly positioned in its #2 spot, and Clemson moved up from #4 to #3. Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State round out the top-10.

For the Big Ten, the latest CFP rankings give the conference at least a shot to get two teams from one conference in the playoff for the first time since it being instituted a few years ago. With the top two spots nearly locks to remain the same, championship weekend will be huge for teams fighting for the final two spots in the college football playoff. Let’s take a look a couple different scenario’s in which the Big Ten could claim at least one of those final two spots.

With Ohio State almost a lock for the playoff after remaining at #2 in the rankings with no more games to play, the Big Ten will have at least one team in the playoff at this point. The conference then has three more teams, in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Penn State, (with the latter two playing for a Big Ten championship) just outside the top four at numbers five, six, and seven respectively.

This is good news for those in Big Ten country, who hope it becomes the first conference to have multiple teams in the playoff. The first scenario that is rather easy to picture is to say the winner of the Big Ten championship game between Wisconsin and Penn State will be the team that will crack the top four first.

Both teams currently sit at 10-2, and would finish as a two-loss conference champion with a win in the Big Ten title game. In a scenario where both Clemson and Washington were to both become conference champions, it would then be an argument between the winner of the Pac-12 in one-loss Washington, against the winner of the Big Ten championship with two losses. In this scenario, it would benefit the Big Ten to have Penn State beat Wisconsin, who would then have wins over two top-ten teams to rival the soft conference schedule of Washington.

Could a two-loss Big Ten champ beat out a one-loss Pac-12 champ for the final playoff spot? For me, it could. The Big Ten has been far an away the best conference in the country all season, with four teams that could match up with most teams in the country. This could aid a two loss Big Ten championship team in trying to beat out a one-loss Pac-12 champion in Washington. Washington will look to throw in some style points while beating the #8 ranked Colorado to avoid any chance at this happening.

The second scenario where the Big Ten could get two teams in the playoff is Washington dropping the Pac-12 title game to Colorado, which is honestly the most likely scenario of them all. If Washington were to fall and Clemson wins the ACC, the final playoff spot would be up for grabs to teams like Michigan, and the winner of the Big Ten championship game between Wisconsin and Penn State.

In this case, the committee would be deciding between a Michigan team with two losses, (that on the field clearly looks like a top-four team in the country) and a two loss Big Ten champ that lost to the Wolverines head to head. If Washington loses, and Penn State wins the Big Ten, you would have Penn State as a Big Ten champion fighting for the final playoff spot with a Michigan team that it lost to 49-10 earlier this season.

How could you then put that Penn State team in the playoff over Michigan regardless of a Big Ten Championship? In my eyes you couldn’t, but to many, the question would then be what’s the significance of even winning your conference? With a Washington loss and a Wisconsin win over Penn State, the argument would also be interesting with Wisconsin losing on the road by seven to Michigan. Who’s to say on a neutral field the Badgers couldn’t have beaten the Wolverines? It’s an argument that could go a number of different ways. Regardless, with a Washington loss, the Big Ten will get two teams in the playoff.

The last scenario to discuss as far the Big Ten crashing the college football playoff, is one in which both Clemson and Washington slip in their respective championship games, which would open the door for possibly three Big Ten teams to enter the playoff. In this case, you could conceivably have Michigan, and the winner of the Big Ten join Ohio State and Alabama in the third edition of the college football playoff. As crazy as it sounds, losses by both Clemson as Washington could see this happen. Michigan, who would have beaten its competition for one of those spots in Pac-12 champ Colorado would surely get in. The Big Ten champion would then most likely go head to head with Colorado for that fourth and final spot.

In the end, we could go on and on with these scenario’s of who will and won’t get in the playoff. But my bold prediction is that the Big Ten will get two teams in the playoff, becoming the first conference to do so in the playoff era.  A Washington loss to Colorado will open the door for #5 Michigan to sneak in the playoff over the Big Ten champ, as the debate will be a head to head win versus a conference champion, and for me you cannot ignore the fact that Michigan beat both Penn State and Wisconsin. Michigan has showed in the field it is a playoff caliber team, this will bode well for the Wolverines as they stake claim to the fourth and final spot in the college football playoff.


E-mail Derek at derek [dot] woods [at] campuspressbox [dot] com and follow him on Twitter @D_Woods21.

Photo Credit :https://flic.kr/p/zSYGZ2