Tuesday was an important day for college football fans, as the first College Football Playoff poll was released.
Some years the show in the lead-up to the release is just that: A TV show, where rankings really don't matter.
This year was the exception though for two reasons: One, where would Cincinnati, an undefeated Group of Five team with a legitimately good win (at Notre Dame) land? And would Oregon, which has a head-to-head win over Ohio State, be ranked over the Buckeyes? Or would brand recognition, and a current five-game losing streak (combined with an Oregon loss to Stanford) put the Buckeyes ahead of the Ducks.
Well first off, here is your first playoff Top 10:
Let's get right into the reaction:
1. First off, coming in we all assumed that the biggest story would be Cincinnati or the Ohio State/Oregon dynamic - who knew it would be Alabama?
With that said, it is nothing short of an abomination that Alabama is the No. 2 team in the country. Yes, they're the defending champ. Yes, they have the best players and the greatest coach in the history of the sport. And yes, they would be favored over everyone other than Georgia and maybe Ohio State on a neutral field.
And you know what, none of it matters. Because ultimately this team should be judged based on what they've done - and they neither have the resume of the second best team in college football, nor have they looked like it.
For starters, let's quickly look at that resume: They beat a bad Miami team, Mercer and Southern Miss out of conference. In league play, they beat a 4-4 Florida team by two, where they were outscored in the final three quarters 26-10. They beat Ole Miss in a game Lane Kiffin gifted them 21 points, and beat Tennessee in a game where they were in a possession game early in the fourth quarter.
Right now, Alabama has one impressive wire-to-wire victory: Mississippi State.
That's really it.
At the very least Michigan State should be ahead of them, and a legitimate argument could be made for Cincinnati too - which has a more impressive win on their resume (at Notre Dame) than anything Alabama has done so far. I'd argue Oregon is a toss up (Oregon's best win is more impressive, their loss is also worse) and if it's based on the "eye test" Ohio State has looked better for big stretches, especially against inferior teams.
Put simply, not even Nick Saban thinks this is the second best team in college football right now.
It's also hard to argue SEC bias doesn't exist when you see a ranking like that.
2. Cincinnati at No. 5 is disappointing, though not surprising.
And as we get to this, I don't really know how to react to the Cincinnati ranking.
On the one hand, starting at No. 5 is the highest a Group of Five program has ever started. So I guess, they have that going for them.
At the same time, there are a couple factors here that would have me furious if I were a Cincinnati fan.
One, we've been told for years that teams like Cincinnati needed to schedule big games to get the committee's attention. Well, they won at Notre Dame. And while this might not be a vintage Notre Dame team, they are still by the committee's own logic, one of the 10 best teams in the country. Meaning that their win is, on paper, better than anything Alabama or Ohio State has done - two teams that are ranked ahead of them, with a loss apiece.
Two, what's especially frustrating is that you can already see the scenario where, even if Cincinnati keeps winning, the committee figures out a way to drop them. Say, for instance, that Michigan State loses to Ohio State. Couldn't the committee justify keeping the Spartans ahead of Cincinnati? And with Oklahoma State and Baylor just outside the Top 10, you know if they keep winning, Oklahoma will move past them as well.
Heck, with Georgia at No. 1, there is even a scenario where you could see Alabama losing to Georgia and staying ahead of them, although I don't think that's realistic.
Whether it is or not, one thing's clear: The game is rigged, and it's going to take a lot of losses the next few weeks for Cincinnati to get a legitimate look at this playoff.
3. Since I've criticized the committee for doing some stuff wrong, let me give them credit for two things: First, credit for putting Oregon ahead of Ohio State.
Now, if Ohio State keeps winning (including against Michigan State) do I really believe that the Buckeyes won't eventually jump the Ducks? I can't say that I really trust the committee.
But at the same time, at least for one week, they got this right.
Head-to-head games have to matter, otherwise what's the point of playing them. Good for the committee for getting this one right.
4. Same with Oklahoma.
Oklahoma hasn't played the best teams in the Big 12 yet, and really, for the most part, hasn't looked good against the bad ones either.
Still, I think we all just kind of assumed they'd end up in the Top 4 somewhere.
Instead, credit to the committee for saying, "You want a Top 4 seed, you have to earn it."
5. Alabama... at No. 2... REALLY?
For more reaction to the first release of the College Football Playoff rankings, make sure to listen to the Aaron Torres Podcast. You can subscribe below for tomorrow's show: