Opinion: Jim Kleinpeter: Final year of four-team College Football Playoff format a perfect example of “This is What TV Wants”

LSU's third-year coach Kim Mulkey are 15-1 and 2-0 in SEC after Sunday's 84-73 road win over Ole Miss. PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes

Here we are past another episode of college football’s silly season.

LSU fans are not happy with another Florida bowl after a second consecutive three-loss regular season that has left them out of the playoff loop. It’s just another one of those meaningless bowl games which will become even more meaningless when the playoffs expand to 12 teams next year.

Just think how bad Florida State and Georgia feel about it.

Florida State got hosed by the selection committee and even though that discussion has run out of shelf life, it will likely be resurrected when the final four-team playoff bracket gets underway.

There might be some justice in the results for the Seminoles in the unlikely event Alabama gets crushed by Michigan. I wouldn’t bet on it, but this is a different Michigan team which faced Washington in Monday night’s national championship game.

There’s no doubt Michigan-Alabama was a better game with the Wolverines winning 27-20 in overtime, than Michigan-Florida State would have been. It’s a shame FSU quarterback Jordan Travis got hurt and the devastating snub on top of that was simply too cruel.

I understand how tough the committee’s job is trying to build a playoff field with contradicting data. Do you value a team’s overall worksheet or find the one playing the best ball when the playoffs hit?

If I had a vote, I’d opt for the former and here’s why: fairness. You’re unbeaten, you overcame every obstacle. Florida State played a tough schedule and didn’t lose a game. Alabama lost a game. It is that simple.

But you have to wonder if the committee understands its stated purpose.

After sticking it to the Seminoles, the committee went and showed how cynical it was by ranking Florida State ahead of Georgia and Ohio State. Oh, I see, now all of a sudden Florida State deserves to be respected for its overall season. We can’t rank teams with one loss in front of them.

The Seminoles played poorly in the ACC Championship Game with a third-string quarterback. The second-string guy was due to return and although he wasn’t in Travis’ class, he was a significant upgrade over the other guy.

Florida State wasn’t a one-man team like LSU. Had the Tigers been in their position and lost Daniels, no one would believe the Tigers had a chance.

Snubbing the Noles was a slap at every other player on that team. The committee also set it up for future decisions to solve similar problems, although no one will care near as much because we’ll be talking about the No. 12 and 13 teams rather than the fourth and fifth.

Still, they set a precedent.

Will future committees penalize a team if it loses a star running back, wide receiver or defensive lineman? I know it’s apples to oranges but how far do you take these subjective decisions?

The fact the committee wants the best matchup rather than fairness is a code for “this is what TV wants.” And we all know TV gets what it wants. TV wants the SEC and the best matchup. Fairness has nothing to do with any of this.

A game that’s more likely a blowout will lose viewership by halftime if one team gets say a 28-0 lead, or maybe the ad rates won’t be as good with a perceived mismatch ahead of time.

The decision here was which of the teams would sell the most beer and cars.

All that being said, I wonder how much the cartel of the Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC that banded together to block delay the 12-team CFB playoff by one year is having any regrets?

Next year if we have a similar kerfuffle between who gets the 12th spot and who gets the 13th (you know it’s going to happen at some point when we have teams with multiple losses) hopefully the guidelines will be a little clearer and the committee less cynical.

At least the silly season will be a little less silly with 11 playoff games instead of three, which will further suck the life out of the rest of the bowl games.

Angels and Demons

The honeymoon didn’t last long for the LSU women’s basketball team, which had more than its share of negative news coming off the school’s first national championship.

As I watched it unfold, I wondered how long it would take folks to forget and it was a short answer. Once Angel Reese returned to the fold and Kateri Poole was mustered out and off the team, everything looks to be back in working order.

No. 7 LSU (15-1, 2-0 in SEC) won its 15th consecutive game in Sunday’s 84-73 road win over Ole Miss in Southeastern Conference play.

The Tigers’ depth has taken a hit with the injury loss of Sa’Myah Smith and Poole’s absence. Smith was looking like the team’s most improved player and might have won a starting job, but Mulkey will have to develop another player for that role.

Poole’s experience and defensive prowess will be missed.

Reese’s difficulties were not surprising with the off-season she had. The photo shoots, appearances and all the other love showered down upon her is a burden for any 21-year old in any situation. It’s way more than some 30-year-olds could handle.

Kim Mulkey didn’t owe anyone any explanations. Indefinite suspensions happen all the time. She knew it would blow over and she’s probably had bigger storms to manage in her Hall of Fame career.

At the same time, she could be a little more up front. There are lots of ways to tell the fans what’s going on without embarrassing the player, perhaps by saying what it isn’t rather than what it is, specifically. Coaches this late in her career and with her accomplishments are always going to trust their gut, for better or worse.

About Jim Kleinpeter 32 Articles
Jim Kleinpeter is a graduate of the LSU School of Journalism. He sportswriter for 37 years, including 33 years at the Times-Picyaune.

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