Rankman's Saturday night wrap: Gulp, what now? Playoff committee left with a big, giant mess

Remember when the BCS screwed up every other year and people said: “What we need is a committee!”

Don’t let computers decide the national champion.

“Death to the BCS,” one book successfully proposed.

All we need to do is gather 12 reasonable people in a room and let them pick the participants.

Smart folks will know what to do.

Ok, here’s your committee. Here are your smart people. And here’s your nightmare.

All the wrong things happened this weekend for the College Football Playoff selection panel, presently holed up in at a four-star hotel in the Lone Star state.

Your move, Condi Rice, Tyrone Willingham, Barry Alvarez and Co.

You didn’t get your bail-out wish. The whole weekend went to hell in a hand basket and now you’re saddled with a huge controversy.

“It’s on you now, the committee,” Penn State Coach James Franklin appropriately bellowed to the crowd in Indianapolis after his team had the nerve to beat Wisconsin in Saturday night’s Big Ten title game.

Yes it is.

There is no way around this mess because you already anointed a team, Ohio State, which couldn’t play Saturday because it didn’t win its own division.

Anointing this team was a mistake.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Four schools from the top four conferences were crowned champions this weekend and none of them were nicknamed “Buckeyes.”

This should be the first item handed out on the committee's indisputable fact sheet.

If the committee is not going to come off Ohio State, it is going to have to say “sorry” to a champion.

It’s not going to be Alabama or Clemson, so it’s going to be Washington or Penn State.

Common sense says you drop the only two-loss in that bunch, Penn State, which owns a 39-point loss to Michigan.

You’d say that except Penn State handed Ohio State its only defeat.

Uh-oh.

Saturday left college football with five worthy teams battling for only four spots.

Washington won the Pac 12 title on Friday night—by 31 points. That was followed by conference clinchers Saturday by Alabama (SEC), Big Ten (Penn State) and ACC (Clemson). We left out Oklahoma winning the Big 12 because, well, we just did.

The committee messed up by not dealing with this possibility weeks ago. It could have hedged on Ohio State after a loss to Penn State, a close game against Northwestern and a near-loss at Michigan State, which ended up 3-9.

It could have dropped Ohio State from No. 2, to No. 3, after a near-loss against Michigan, a game Ohio State won by an inch (maybe).

The committee is now left with a hard, ugly choice. Unfortunately, it must drop Ohio State, a team good enough but, this year, a victim of circumstances.

The four-team playoff should be Alabama, Clemson, Washington and Penn State. Four champions of the four best conferences.

Sorry, Ohio State. You won a lot, but you didn’t win anything.

The committee could have gotten away with leaving the Big Ten champion out—but only if two-loss Wisconsin won on Saturday night.

It is hard—make that unfathomable--to justify leaving the Big Ten champion that defeated Ohio State, out of the playoff.

And the only team that did that is Penn State.

The committee must suck it up and leave Ohio State out.

Send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl to play USC, another fine team that didn’t win its own division.

That’s a GREAT consolation Rose Bowl.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany is in a tough spot because he’s selfish and wants multiple teams in the playoff.

He jumped his mark, though, by saying Ohio State was a playoff lock. Maybe that’s why he was booed by Penn State fans at the Big Ten trophy ceremony in Indianapolis.

Penn State fans know that, with two losses, they may still be the most vulnerable of the playoff contenders.

Franklin played this up beautifully in post-game ceremonies.

Asked by Fox analyst Joel Klatt whether his team deserved a playoff spot, Franklin bellowed: “What I do know is we just won the toughest conference in college football."

The battle for championships brings out the hypocrite in the best of grown men.

In 2006, folks from the SEC said Michigan did not deserve a rematch against Ohio State in the national title game.

Michigan lost a close, late-November game in Columbus in a match-up of the nation’s top two teams.

The SEC said Florida deserved the chance—and got it.

Five years later, however, the SEC insisted Alabama did deserve a rematch after losing a regular-season game to LSU.

Big Ten Delany once said only the top four conference champions should make the playoff.

His opinion is different now that Ohio State is ranked No. 2. Delany, a lawyer, pointed to an arcane clause in jurisprudence commonly known as “Hey, it’s not my fault.”

Delany told ESPN on Saturday that he didn’t make the rules, so naturally he’s going to lobby his conference’s cause.

“I lost that election four years ago,” Delany said. “I argued for the four best conference champions. That was not the decision. We lost the election.”

Your witness.

So now the committee convenes to complete an impossible task.

As Franklin said: “It’s on you, now.”[/membership]

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