If you haven't been paying much attention to the College Football Playoff Committee's weekly rankings (and why should you? Only the final list matters), you may be unfamiliar with the term "game control." But according to playoff committee chairman Jeff Long, "game control" is going to play an integral part in how the final four teams are selected.
What does Long mean by "game control"? Well, let's start with what it isn't. Long has explained that the committee's version of game control is NOT what ESPN scrolls along the ticker on the bottom of your screen. That is the statistic of game control- which "reflects chance that an average Top 25 team would control games from start to end the way this team did, given the schedule." The committee will most definitely NOT be using that statistic in their evaluations.
No, Long's game control is more of a feeling, man. That vibe you get while watching a team play on Saturday. Solomon's column at CBSSports.com identifies Long's comments to illustrate the use of "game control" in reference to the Mississippi State v Alabama game last weekend... "Long ... cited Alabama as the new No. 1 team because it controlled its 25-20 victory against then-No. 1 Mississippi State, yet Long later said Mississippi State remained in the top four because, "You never felt like they were out of it" against the Crimson Tide."
And there in lies the problem. One man's nail-biter is another man's blow out. Given the Bulldog's inability to run the ball with any consistency, contain Crimson Tide QB Blake Sims outside of the pocket, or hold on to the football, I know the vibe I personally felt exuding from MSU's performance. It was more of a "we don't belong here" than a "fourth best team in the country."
But my perspective is very subjective. And so is theirs. Which is a huge problem. In that same CBS article, BigXII commissioner Bob Bowlsby likens the CFB committees' process to that of the basketball selection committee- as if the processes are one in the same. They are not.
About half the teams in the March Madness tournament field earn their place on the court by winning their conference championship. Each conference champ takes its fate from the hands of a fickle and subjective committee. There is no dispute. Of course, the committee then nominates the other half of the field based on their successes in the regular season, but everyone understands that the only way to guarantee a birth is to win the conference. WINNING = PLAYOFFS.
We in football are yet to arrive at such a sound, reasoned process. We have no objective measure that predetermines playoff bids. This, mind you, is insane. The Florida State Seminoles - the only undefeated team in the Power 5 - have fallen to third in the Playoff selection rankings because of how they have won their games (pret-tay ugly). If they can fall to third while remaining undefeated, then theoretically they could be dropped to fifth should other teams win in ways that appease the selection committee's unknown and fluctuating criteria.
Win/loss record is being viewed as a line on a resume - as something to be considered. It is no different than strength of schedule, total points, the score at halftime, and apparently the vibe you give off during the middle quarters. And please, don't reply with "win/loss holds more weight in the selection process." Either you can win your way in, or you can't. Right now, you can't. And as I mentioned - this is insane.
We've already seen what the subjectivity does to smaller schools. It bars them from the conversation entirely (unlike basketball). What it also does is take the game out of the hands of the players, which I believe is the whole gripe that started us down this path in the first place.
The solution is very simple, and not all that original. But it is the only honest way to crown a champion. Win a Power 5 conference? Playoff spot. Best team in the Group of 5? Playoff spot. Two other "At-large" bids may then be given by a committee of experts who can rank teams however they please. Because at that point, the teams who the football games won't have to worry about "game control" taking away what they've earned on the field.