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by Matt Kupec

December 8, 2018

This past weekend the NCAA Division I College Bowl Subdivision Playoff selection committee got it right when they named Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma as the four teams to participate for the national championship football playoffs.

Alabama and Clemson were clearly the top two teams in college football this year.  I do not believe anybody debated that fact.  Notre Dame, as an unbeaten team, seemed to be the clear third choice of both the selection committee and the general public.

It was the fourth slot that generated the most debate and suspense.   Three teams were considered as Oklahoma, Ohio State and Georgia were in the discussion for the final slot.  Oklahoma and Ohio State were conference champions and had just one loss each.  Georgia played Alabama better than any team this year but eventually lost and finished the season with two losses.

Despite strong sentiment among some pundits, particularly ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit that Georgia was “one of the best for teams this year,” the wisdom of the selection committee prevailed as Oklahoma was selected for the fourth and final slot in this year’s playoffs.

I think Herbstreit is one of the best analysts today and I really like his insightful analysis.  But his criticism of the selection committee is not warranted.  Here are some thoughts:

  • Georgia was NOT Deserving of a Playoff Invitation. I couldn’t believe pundits like Herbstreit were arguing for the inclusion of Georgia in the playoffs!  Georgia had their chance against Alabama but needed to win.  They fell short.  A “moral victory” against Alabama was not good enough to get the playoff invitation.  A two-loss Georgia team did not merit an invite over conference champions and one-loss Oklahoma and Ohio State
  • Georgia Played a Very Weak Non-Conference Schedule. Another factor hurting Georgia was its weak non-conference schedule.  Georgia’s out of conference schedule included Samford, Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee State and Georgia Tech.  The Rambling Wreck finished 8-4 but that was competing in the extremely weak ACC Coastal Division.  Georgia had no signature non-conference win which hurt them in the final analysis.
  • Oklahoma Was a Conference Champion and Lost Only One Game. Oklahoma went 12-1 this year and defeated the only team to beat them, Texas, in a rematch in the Big 12 Championship Game.  Oklahoma beat everybody on their schedule.   Oklahoma had wins over ranked teams in #15 Texas, #16 West Virginia and #24 Iowa State.
  • Kudo’s to the Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 for Playing Nine Conference Games. These three Power 5 conferences play nine conference games each year.  They should be applauded for  scheduling an extra conference game and be given consideration by the Playoff selection committee.  For some reason, the ACC and SEC only play eight conference games!!  Of the aforementioned Georgia non-conference schedule, wouldn’t it be nice if Georgia had played say Texas A&M or Mississippi State this year instead of Austin Peay?  Please somebody explain to me the wisdom of not playing nine conference games when you have fourteen teams in the conference.  UNC will not play teams like Wake Forest and Clemson for some six years but instead the Tar Heel faithful got the chance to buy tickets to the Western Carolina game in mid-November!

Congratulations to this year’s College Football Selection committee for getting it right with the selection of Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.  The four most deserving teams are in the hunt for the national championship!  Let the games begin!!

About the Author

Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience.  He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership.  He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit.

Matt is a former record-breaking four year starting quarterback for the UNC Tar Heels.  During his career he set 19 season and career passing records.  Two of which still stand – most consecutive games with a TD pass and most wins as a starting QB.  Matt also set the ACC record for TD passes his senior year at UNC.  Matt was named MVP of the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named MVP of two bowl games.