A year after leapfrogging the Big Ten champion Penn State Nittany Lions to earn a College Football Playoff berth, the Ohio State Buckeyes are on the outside looking in on the 2017 semifinals.
The CFP selection committee ranked the Alabama Crimson Tide as the No. 4 team in the country, which sets them up with a rubber match against the Clemson Tigers in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.
The @CFBPlayoff matchups are set! Sugar: Clemson vs Alabama Rose: Oklahoma vs Georgia https://t.co/b2QHgHvmWc2017-12-3 17:35:42
Needless to say, that Alabama vaulted Ohio State—after the Crimson Tide didn’t play in the SEC title game and the Buckeyes won the Big Ten title over the Wisconsin Badgers—was among the biggest points of discussion on social media:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Nick Saban and the Tide after getting the final spot in the playoff... https://t.co/A4XPUONdGN2017-12-3 17:42:44
CFP selection committee chair Kirby Hocutt said the Buckeyes' 55-24 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes was the decisive factor in the decision to leave Ohio State out of the playoff, according to The Athletic's Chris Vannini.
Some took issue with Hocutt's logic:
Skip Bayless @RealSkipBayless
Kirby Hocutt, the committee chairman, says Ohio State's 31-point loss at unranked Iowa gave the edge to Bama. Yet Ohio State did beat Penn State and Wisconsin. Please show me Bama's impressive wins.2017-12-3 17:50:04
Bill Rabinowitz @brdispatch
What's interesting and probably disingenuous is that Hocutt said last week that there was very little separation between OSU and Alabama. OSU won and Alabama didn't play. But clearly there was more than very little separation.2017-12-3 17:50:51
Others thought the Iowa defeat was fair game as a playoff eliminator:
Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie
Yeah, I mean, Ohio State has nothing to complain about. Don’t lose by 31 to Iowa.2017-12-3 17:37:18
Ben Axelrod @BenAxelrod
Don't lose to Iowa by 31 points, don't leave your playoff odds to the committee. Ohio State has no one to blame but itself.2017-12-3 17:38:01
USA Today's Dan Wolken questioned, however, whether Alabama's past success played a role in the impression of the Tide's overall strength this year:
Dan Wolken @DanWolken
The committee judged 2017 Alabama on 2009-2016 Alabama.2017-12-3 17:39:39
The Auburn Tigers are in the same situation the 2016 Nittany Lions faced: They're out of the playoff and had to watch a team they beat earn a shot at a national title. Many sympathized with the Tigers:
Andy Glockner @AndyGlockner
I don't really care, but ... After beating Alabama, Auburn would have been better off declining the SEC title game spot. That's really freaking stupid.2017-12-3 17:53:12
Tony Barnhart @MrCFB
Auburn at home knowing they beat two of the playoff teams and played the other to a 14-6 game on the road. Wow.2017-12-3 17:47:07
Phil Murphy @Phil_Sports
Auburn reaching the SEC title game played itself out of the College Football Playoff Alabama not reaching the SEC title game allowed it to remain in2017-12-3 17:36:57
Here's how others reacted to Sunday's reveal:
Barrett Sallee @BarrettSallee
Ohio State status https://t.co/E9reLQ0quh2017-12-3 17:37:40
Congrats Clemson, you have earned the top seed and get to face the lowest seed........Alabama! #CFBPlayoff https://t.co/oLEI0wDQjq2017-12-3 18:10:31
Tom Fornelli @TomFornelli
Last week: There isn’t much difference between 5 and 9 This week: “Alabama was clearly the No. 4 team as a non-champion.” Guys, I’m starting to think we can’t take anything the CFP chair says seriously.2017-12-3 17:49:07
Chris Hassel @Hassel_Chris
I feel a lot worse for UCF than I do for Ohio State. They’re the only team to win all its games yet this format gives them no shot whatsoever. That has to change.2017-12-3 18:01:40
Jay Crawford @JaycrawfordCLE
Committee considered last year ABSOLUTELY. They had a choice between Clemson V OSU or Clemson V Alabama. NO WAY they ignored those results. The system is still flawed. No PAC 12. No BIG 10. You can’t invite 4 with 5 power conferences and call it a TRUE title. #mustbe82017-12-3 17:58:50
J.A. Adande @jadande
Once and for all let's end the talk that "the entire college football season is a playoff." In playoffs you don't advance off a loss, as Alabama just did2017-12-3 18:11:01
Before the creation of the CFP, critics of the system contended it would inevitably lead to calls for playoff expansion. The last two years are a perfect illustration of how a four-team tournament still causes some deserving schools to be overlooked.
An eight-team playoff isn't coming anytime soon, but the 2016 and 2017 semifinals could be used in the future as evidence for why expansion is needed to determine a national champion.
It's of little comfort to Ohio State fans, but Sunday's playoff reveal showed why the system is a clear upgrade over the Bowl Championship Series. Arguing whether the Buckeyes or Crimson Tide are more deserving semifinalists is far better than seeing the Georgia Bulldogs denied the opportunity to compete for a national championship.