College football wrapup: 2014-15

The 2014 college football season is in the books, and Ohio State is the first school to win a national championship determined by a postseason playoff system.

Beyond the usual discussion of champions and coaching legacies (quickly: Urban Meyer– three national championships at two different schools, evil; Nick Saban– four national championships at two different schools, merely soulless), one of the central season-in-review topics of conversation, at least in these parts, is whether the SEC is over. Surprisingly but also not surprisingly, Paul Finebaum, voice of the SEC, answers the question implied in the previous sentence in the affirmative. (UPDATE: PFT Commenter emphatically concurs.) Although he’s been developing his position over the course of his daily radio show since roughly the first of the year, he summed up the general point in his appearance on Keith Olbermann’s show just before the national championship game:

In short: “It was a pretty bad year for the SEC.”

Although I contemplated the notion of Peak SEC at least as early as December 2012 and later pegged the possible date somewhat more recently, I’m not sure I agree that the SEC is over.

The SEC’s bowl record was 7-5. (They were 7-3 last year.) The Pacific Twelve was 6-2 (exclusive of Oregon’s national championship loss), the Big Ten was 5-5 (exclusive of Ohio State’s national championship win), the Big XII was 2-5, and the ACC was 4-7. In other words, among the power five conferences, the SEC had the most teams playing in bowl games and notched the second-best winning percentage.

What seems to concern Finebaum, though, is a sudden lack of championships. That people think the SEC is done for because one of its members hasn’t played for a national championship in a whole year and hasn’t won one in a whole two years is a testament to the never-before-seen degree of dominance the conference produced during the BCS era. Prior to Ohio State’s inaugural CFP championship on Monday, the Big Ten had 1.5 national championships since 1970. The SEC had nine in the BCS era (i.e., since 1998) alone. The ACC had two BCS championships, the ACC had two, the (now-defunct for football purposes) Big East had one, and the then-Pac Ten had one, since vacated.

After the hunt for Mississippi October turned up empty and OSU knocked Alabama out in the semis, the SEC may need to do a little more to earn its seeds next year, but I’m not sure we can say the conference is measurably weaker simply because it failed to produce a national champion this year. If anything, the above suggests the conference is as deep as ever.

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Transitioning toward the offseason and the 2015 season, I’ll use this space to remind everyone that Michigan State’s only losses in 2014 were to Ohio State and Oregon. The Spartans face both teams again in 2015, albeit without the aid of their departed defensive coordinator, Pat Narduzzi. (Also, how about that Cotton Bowl?!)

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The AP released its final poll:

  1. Ohio State
  2. Oregon
  3. TCU
  4. Alabama
  5. Michigan State
    Florida State

The remainder of the final AP top twenty-five, in which Georgia Tech (8) finished ahead of Georgia (9) is available here.

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The defending national champs have the most interesting story of the offseason on their hands. Ohio State finds itself with a good problem to have: too many good quarterbacks. One-time Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller will be both healthy and graduated, with one remaining year of NCAA eligibility. J. T. Barrett will be healthy as well, and most expect him to be the starter next season, despite the fact that Cardale Jones just reeled off three massive wins and is a national championship-winning quarterback. Some thought Jones should capitalize on his meteoric rise and jump to the NFL, but he has said he wants to return to Ohio State.

Miller is the wild card, and, more than any other individual, he can decide to transform the competitive landscape in 2015. The rumor mill has linked Miller to Florida State, LSU, Oregon, and every other competitive team in need of a quarterback. This element of college football free agency (Notre Dame’s Everett Golson is in the same boat) will be fun to watch in the coming months.

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How will the College Football Playoff © Selection Committee react to the departures of members Oliver Luck and Archie Manning? Will anyone else leave the Committee? Will the Committee change the way it handles seeding and public comments during the season?

My view remains that the black-box Committee is an unnecessary component of a playoff system.

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For those readers who find entertainment in giving others your money, know that you can always contact us at aldland[dot]com[at]gmail[dot]com. Failing that, here are your championship odds for next year:

  1. Ohio State – 5/1
  2. TCU – 15/2
  3. Alabama – 9/1
  4. Baylor – 14/1
  5. Michigan State – 16/1
    Oregon – 16/1

For some added value, get your money down before Braxton Miller makes his decision.

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Now back to hockey, basketball, and your regularly scheduled UGA football arrest programming.

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