The College Football Playoff committee unveiled its first set of rankings Tuesday night, placing three SEC teams – Mississippi State, Auburn and Ole Miss – in the top four along with defending national champion Florida State.
And with that, let the controversy begin.
“Well, I think that’s what separates college football from other sports – and I think it’s important,” CBS Sports college football analyst Gary Danielson said on The MoJo Show. “Opinion is part of college football. It always has been. And I think in the long run, it’s needed for our sport to continue to grow and hold the viewing public’s attention. It’s needed. I think it always should be there. I think it would be a mistake if we ever went to an NFL type playoff format where everything would be decided and we would all just wait for the first week of December to start watching. So it’s needed.
“However,” Danielson continued, “I also want to say this committee releasing this poll data for the next five, six, seven weeks is a big mistake. It’s like a jury after each witness leaves the jury stand voting on whether the guy’s guilty or not guilty.”
Indeed, almost half of the season is yet to be played. Is the intent of the early rankings just to create drama?
“I don’t know about that,” Danielson said. “I think it’s going to be very difficult for them at the end to have a team rated in front of another team all year – and if that team wins out at the end – leapfrog somebody over it. I’ve been involved in this since 2006. The people that are involved in this are going to find out what the heck are we in the middle of this for? And I’m not interested in it anymore and I don’t think it’s necessary at all.
“I think the polls are fun, but I think it will work itself out.”
And not just with wins and losses, either. What if, for example, Mississippi State goes unbeaten but Dak Prescott sustains a season-ending injury in the SEC Championship? Without Prescott, the Bulldogs would certainly not be the top team in the country – and probably not one of the top four teams in the country.
“But are you going to deny the other 90 players on their team an opportunity to play for a championship when they went undefeated?” Danielson asked. “It’s all meaningless.”
Oregon, Alabama, TCU, Michigan State, Kansas State and Notre Dame round out the top 10 – for now.
Danielson said he does not see a great team in college football this year. Rather, he sees a lot of good ones. In other words, nothing like some of the recent SEC national champions.
“Those teams had 10, 20, 30, 40 future NFL players playing against each other,” Danielson said. “These teams are not that well-stacked. They’re all good football teams. They all could beat anyone else in college football, but in my humble opinion, none of them is a dynamic team that would roll their helmets out and beat anybody in the country like that 2012 Alabama team. They would have beat anybody. That 2008 Florida team that played Oklahoma, that team was loaded. I don’t see that kind of excellence in any of these SEC teams.”