Just yesterday, I wrote that nobody outside of LSU wants to hear us complain about things are unfairly tilted in favor of Bama. What a difference a day makes. Now, that's pretty much the talk of the college football world, and everybody wants to talk about how unfair things are in favor of Bama.
LSU has gone from just another SEC team, in contention for a national title, to the unofficial good guys of college football. It is up to us to beat Alabama and save the rest of college football from a playoff-bound, one-loss Tide. Fans of every contending team now need us to help their team, so we're about to get really popular this weekend.
The more, the merrier, I say. Come on in, everybody! The keg is out back. Delusional Optimism believes that a great party can use as many attendees as it can get. So we're not going to bar up the door, or even question the motives of those Iowa fans, even after they made a really funny video making fun of the SEC.
Now, is Alabama premiering at #4 in the college football committee poll outrageous? Of course it is. What people fail to understand about "SEC bias" is that it really isn't SEC bias, it is Bama Bias. It's Bama who gets a free pass for every misstep, and a justification for every loss as if it didn't really count.
The committee stated it stresses "Quality Wins", defined as wins over teams above .500. Now, I know this definition upsets the analytic community, but honestly, it's a pretty good starting point. In an era in which every team tries to arrange the easiest schedule possible, and the marquee cross-regional out of conference game is on life support, I think it is right to reward teams for playing good teams. It shouldn't be the end-all, be-all, but if you can't get above 500 in this era of scheduling, you probably aren't a good team.
One of the most damning things about Alabama's profile is a comparison to fellow SEC team, Florida, which ranks a far more reasonable 10th. Alabama has three Quality Wins: Wisconsin, Texas A&M, and Georgia. They also have a decent loss, at home, to Ole Miss. Florida, by contrast, only has two: Georgia and Ole Miss. They also have a better loss, a road game against LSU. So Florida is 2-0 to Bama's 1-1 against common opponents, a supposed factor. They have a better loss, and they beat the team that beat Alabama. I just don't see how, using the committee's criteria, you can rank Alabama ahead of Florida right now.
I'm not against these early rankings, as they give us an insight to what the committee is thinking. It tells us the things they value, and we adjust our expectations accordingly. Last year, it seemed they valued scheduling and conference titles. This year, it seems that the committee values the Helmet Test above all else. And that is the disturbing thing about these rankings.
Quality Wins matter the most? OK, I can get behind that. Then how is Michigan St, with its FIVE Quality Wins, ranked 7th? Particularly behind #3 Ohio St, from their own conference? If, as the committee says, we can't project future results, how can they rank the Buckeyes ahead of Sparty, using the Committee criteria?
Even the Big 12 has this problem. TCU and Baylor have combined for all of two Quality Wins between them. Oklahoma St has three, yet the Cowboys are ranked 14th, just one slot ahead of one-loss Oklahoma. If Quality Wins is the standard, or at least the starting point, how does the Committee sort the big 12 teams the way it does.
Yes, I know the rankings don't really matter at this point, but they are important as a way to look at how the committee thinks. And it seems the most important factor is a team's Q-rating. Alabama, Ohio St, and Baylor all get higher rankings than their resumes actually merit at this point because the committee "knows" they are good.
It's the Helmet Test all over again. Give Baylor Oklahoma St's resume, and their rankings would flip. Same with Alabama and Florida or Ohio St and Michigan St (or even Iowa).
Things will likely sort themselves out as the month plays itself out, but it also means that a lot of fans of a lot of teams are hoping things sort out sooner rather than later. That means they need LSU to knock off Alabama for them, to take care of the Red Menace. Sure, they aren't actually rooting for us, but they will be cheering for us this weekend, if only for their own selfish purposes.
That works for me. Enjoy the party, the grass tastes great.