Selection Sunday: Big Ten good, but not good enough

Like Selection Sunday in college basketball, the only news that matters on Selection Sunday in college football, is the decisions by the selection committee and the bowl match ups.

Let's start with this statement. The College Football Playoff Selection Committee made the WRONG choice in selecting its four teams. But that statement is an oxymoron. There was NO way the selection committee could have made the RIGHT choice this season, since there is no way you can make five or six or even seven worthy teams fit into four slots. There was even less of a chance of having four conference champions fill the slots when you were faced with the dilemma of making the choice between the four best teams and the four most deserving teams.

In our opinion, the four best teams in college football at the end of the season were: Alabama, Clemson, USC and Michigan. The most deserving teams were: Alabama, Clemson, Penn State and Washington/Ohio State.

When the announcement was finally made on Sunday afternoon, the committee chose 1. Alabama 2. Clemson 3. Ohio State and 4....Washington.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

The debate, according to the committee, was between Washington and Penn State, two conference champions. It was not a debate over Penn State or Washington and Ohio State.

Tournament selection chairman Kirby Hocutt made it clear that the committee's mission was to put the four BEST teams into the Final Four.

Penn State did not meet that criteria, despite winning its division over Michigan and Ohio State, despite winning the head to head match up with Ohio State, despite winning the best conference in college football this season with a remarkable 38-31 come from behind win over Wisconsin on Saturday night in which the Nittany Lions overcame a 21 point deficit.

The argument against Penn State was that it lost two games, while Washington and Ohio State lost only one game. Penn State lost to a Pittsburgh team, which beat Atlantic Coast Conference champion Clemson champion this season and won eight games.

Penn State beat a Temple team, which won the American Athletic Conference championship and won 10 games. It wasn't a horrible non-conference schedule and included some quality wins and then the Nittany Lions went out and WON the Big Ten title.

Ohio State won NO titles. It got credit for beating Big 12 champion Oklahoma, an Oklahoma team that Hocutt said basically was too one dimensional (no defense) to be included in the discussion of the top 6 teams in college football.

And Yes, the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin and Michigan, but they were outplayed by Michigan and won in double overtime with the help of some controversial officials calls. They were as lucky as they were good in winning close games against Northwestern and a 3-9 Michigan State team, which Penn State crushed.

On a closer examination, the credentials of Ohio State can be questioned. And again, they didn't win their own DIVISION and received a playoff spot over a team that beat them on the field and then won the conference championship.

Call us old fashioned, call us out of touch or clueless, but the essence of football at every level is that if you compete in a conference, winning the conference is the main goal, and winning the head to head match up against your primary rival is another goal.

Penn State did both against Ohio State and it WASN 'T GOOD ENOUGH.

Why? Because Penn State lost to Pittsburgh? Because Penn State scheduled the Panthers instead of an FCS team such as Portland State, which was one of Washington's victories?

What did the Nittany Lions have to do this season?

The only item that mitigates what happened to Penn State was that the consolation prize for not making the Final Four was a trip to the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champion.

Conversely, Pac-12 champion Washington's prize for making the Final Four was a meeting against Alabama in a semifinal game in Atlanta on New Year's Eve.

When talking about Alabama on ESPN, Washington coach Chris Petersen was reminded that many contenders would claim they wanted a shot to beat the No. 1 ranked team. ""I didn't say that,'' joked Petersen to ESPN. ""Be careful what you wish for.''

Bama was quickly established as a 14 point favorite over the Huskies.

Now that it is over, the selection process will be examined and perhaps tweaked. But like the BCS. which preceded it, the system is flawed. Squeezing five teams into four slots will never work.

What happened on Sunday and this season may have been regarded as the right decision by the selection committee but it didn't solve a problem that has no solution under the current system.[/membership]