Scooter Hobbs column: CFP, Where math, logic collide
Published 9:00 am Friday, November 18, 2022
It’s nothing new, so it should be no surprise by now. Been going on unchecked for several years now.
But it still seems to catch everybody off guard. Every time. Without fail.
See, this is the week that the proud Southeastern Conference dispatches a lowly go-fer to tiptoe up to TV Network Central’s front porch, slip its weekly football schedule — known as the “slate” in the same clichéd circles that might call a season a “campaign” — under the door, whereupon he rings the doorbell and hightails it out of there before anybody answers.
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The most compelling game on the “docket” this week is, I guess, Ole Miss at Arkansas.
Nothing wrong with that. Should be competitive, spirited, maybe even entertaining. Lane Kiffin will be there, so you have to pay attention, and Fayetteville is involved so you even have a chance of getting the added oddity of a snow and/or ice game in the South.
But that’s about it.
Shoot, there are only three other conference games “on tap,” as they say.
And it takes an optimistic leap of faith to imagine any upsets among Vanderbilt-Florida, South Carolina-Tennessee and Georgia-Kentucky.
It’s hardly a must-see weekend.
Here we are approaching the regular-season finish line, interest at a fever pitch and … mostly duds.
Maybe it’s the SEC’s annual, pre-Thanksgiving reminder, a little token gesture to refute the notion that the TV networks really run everything in college football. Just because the SEC can get away with it. So take that.
The networks and their fat money bags will be passing out checks while clearing valuable air space for the likes of Alabama-Austin Peay, Texas A&M-UMass, New Mexico State-Missouri, East Tennessee State-Mississippi State and Western Kentucky-Auburn.
LSU-UAB, an afterthought on the Tigers’ schedule, might be the best of the nonconference fare here. But schedule these things and you still run the risk of getting shoved back to an 8 p.m. kickoff and you probably deserve it.
Even the SEC has to buy some occasional victories somewhere.
These games are going to pop up during the season, that’s the way scheduling works in the upper echelon. You just don’t expect to see such a mass dumping of cupcakes on the same weekend.
And, yo, SEC, don’t think we don’t see what you’re doing here.
Next week will be much better, of course, checking in with most of the traditional rivalry spats, conference and nonconference alike.
So most schools plan and schedule accordingly, you know, to be at maximum efficiency for next week’s hated blood foes.
So they pay for an open date disguised as a Governor (Austin Peay) or a Minuteman (UMass) to work out the kinks.
In LSU’s case, I think it would be a far a wiser scheduling ploy to slip this kind of pit stop in immediately
after its Alabama game rather than before Texas A&M, even when the Aggies are playing up to their talent. It could be printed on the tickets as the Hangover Remedy Special.
But this SEC weekend, as Nick Saban likes to say, is what it is.
So the poor announcers figure to be scrambling for a lot of happy talk, which means their thoughts will turn to the College Football Playoff.
The low-hanging fruit there is generally whatever theoretical can lead to the most unadulterated chaos for the selection committee.
Best I can tell, right now that would involve LSU winning out — not just getting past UAB and Texas A&M, but also pulling the big upset against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
Would that be enough to make the Tigers the first two-loss team to reach to playoff?
Honestly, I can’t make the math work on it. But smarter football minds than me think it would be not only possible, but highly probable.
Assuming Georgia is still undefeated beforehand, the Dawgs are getting in no matter what LSU does or does not do to them in Atlanta.
Putting LSU in would mean the selection committee wouldn’t possibly deny entry to an SEC champion.
Ordinarily, that thinking might work. But there’s still a big problem. How could you put in an LSU team at the expense of a one-loss Tennessee team that beat the Tigers 40-13 in Baton Rouge no less?
So do you put the Vols in too, and make it three of the four from the SEC? Surely not.
The selection committee would risk college football burning to the ground.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at email@example.com