College Football Playoff initial rankings come out with heavy SEC bias

October 29, 2014

The College Football Playoff announced the first selection committee top 25 ranking, and already the 12-person committee (temporarily without Archie Manning this season) has shown the presence of an SEC bias many feared might emerge.

“The College Football Playoff selection committee met for the past two days and we engaged in a lively and detailed discussion about who the best teams are in college football, as of October 26,” said selection chairman Jeff Long. “We debated, we reviewed facts and statistics, and we used our judgment. There are 18 one-loss teams in the FBS and the differences between many of these teams are slight. The bottom line is it’s early, it’s close and it’s going to change.”

It might be early, and yes things will change, but a few of the rankings raised some eyebrows.

Mississippi, whose close loss to LSU this past weekend apparently did not cause much of a ripple with the committee, came in at number 4. LSU has not been an elite squad by any means this season, so perhaps the only reason to justify that top-four ranking after such a loss would be the Rebels earlier win over Alabama. The Tide was ranked sixth, so one must assume the committee felt obligated to put the Rebels above them.

Unfortunately, such logic was not followed with Oregon and Arizona, both of whom were one-loss teams, although Arizona defeated Oregon head-to-head.  Apparently, that win did not hold much weight, as the Ducks came in 5th, while the Wildcats were ranked 12th. Perhaps the committee gave extra credence to Oregon's win over Michigan State.

Overall, three of the top four teams are from the SEC, with Mississippi State coming in at the top spot.

The Pac-12 had five teams in the top 25, but only Oregon in the top 10. Assuming some of the SEC schools knock each other off -- and that assumption is no given since the SEC seems to only get a boost for wins, but very little negative treatment for conference losses (see Ole Miss this week) -- Oregon should secure a playoff spot should it win out.

As good the SEC West might be, the conference overall lacks quality depth.  The SEC East this year is weak relative to much of the Pac-12 and Big 12.

Even the SEC West can be questioned somewhat, as several of those teams received an artificial boost early in the season by beating Texas A & M.  The Aggies were overrated early in the year before being exposed.

Ultimately, it is very clear that there are no extraordinary teams this season, but rather just a collection of very good teams who could each win it all.

So in a season with so much parity, why is the committee already favoring one conference over the comparably talented Pac-12 and Big 12?

The selection committee will prepare six more rankings this season, including the final one on Selection Day, Sunday, December 7. The top four teams in the final rankings will play in the semifinals on January 1, 2015, at the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl.

This was the first official meeting for the selection committee which will reconvene in person each week to review the action and issue new rankings.

The rankings are listed below:

1 Mississippi State 7-0
2 Florida State 7-0
3 Auburn 6-1
4 Mississippi 7-1
5 Oregon 7-1
6 Alabama 7-1
7 TCU 6-1
8 Michigan State 7-1
9 Kansas State 6-1
10 Notre Dame 6-1
11 Georgia 6-1
12 Arizona 6-1
13 Baylor 6-1
14 Arizona State 6-1
15 Nebraska 7-1
16 Ohio State 6-1
17 Utah 6-1
18 Oklahoma 5-2
19 LSU 7-2
20 West Virginia 6-2
21 Clemson 6-2
22 UCLA 6-2
23 East Carolina 6-1
24 Duke 6-1
25 Louisville 6-2

By Staff of and news services

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